The 2010 NBA Finals was not only a memorable for the Los Angeles Lakers because it was Kobe Bryant’s fifth championship, but it also was the organization’s 16th and most recent title.
Additionally, there was a revenge factor involved as well as they defeated the Boston Celtics to win it after losing to them in 2008. Two years later it took seven games for the series to be decided, and the decisive Game 7 at Staples Center was one of the most nerve-wracking contests of all-time.
In what was a defensive battle, the Lakers trailed for most of the game, even finding themselves in a 13-point deficit in the middle of the third quarter.
Behind the leadership of Bryant and outstanding play from key contributors like Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest, the Lakers battled their way back to an 83-79 victory.
Gasol recently had the chance to re-watch the game for the first time in a decade, and he said that he felt nervous like he was back out there playing even though he knew the outcome, via Brad Turner of the L.A. Times:
“It was the first time I had watched Game 7 in 10 years and I felt like I was playing the game,” he said. “I felt like I was in it, like I was there and I was suffering with every missed shot or ‘Oh — we’re down.’ Even though I know the outcome of the game and it has been 10 years. Everyone really did a magnificent job. The fans, they pushed us through that game and they helped us win that championship. It was so much into that.”
Gasol was especially huge in that Game 7 against the Celtics, scoring 19 points to go along with 18 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 42 minutes.
With Bryant tragically being killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year, watching that game couldn’t have been easy for Gasol, who was one of his closest friends.
The Bryant and Gasol duo combined to win back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010, leaving a legacy in the Lakers organization that can never be disputed. The Lakers have not yet retired his No. 16 jersey, but it may soon be up in the rafters at Staples Center next to Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24.