On June 14, 2009, Kobe Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to a Game 5 win over the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals to capture the organization’s 15th championship.
Bryant and the Lakers came into the 2008-09 season extra determined after being embarrassed by the rival Boston Celtics in the Finals the season before. Bryant had still yet to win a championship without Shaquille O’Neal and was on a mission to leave no doubt that he could accomplish the feat.
The Lakers finished the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference at 65-17. They then defeated the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets in the playoffs to set up a date with the Magic in the Finals.
Orlando had beaten LeBron James and the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers as well as the Celtics without Kevin Garnett in the Eastern Conference side of the bracket.
After taking care of business in the first two games at Staples Center, then splitting the next two in Orlando, the Lakers took the court in Game 5 with an opportunity to win the championship on the road.
Orlando jumped out to a hot start, taking an early 15-6, although it was all Lakers from there as they battled back and led by as many as 18 points, cruising to a 99-86 victory.
As was the case all series long, Bryant led the way for the Lakers, scoring 30 points on 10-of-23 shooting to go along with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks in 43 minutes.
Pau Gasol also had a solid game, posting 14 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and four blocks while Lamar Odom had a double-double off the bench with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Bryant was named the Finals MVP for the first time in his career after averaging 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists in the series. The Lakers would go on to repeat the next season, getting their revenge with a Game 7 win over the Celtics to capture their 16th championship.