Toughness, Revenge, and the Pursuit of Immortality
NBA Finals Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Approximately 17,112 hours have passed since the Boston Celtics shredded the Los Angeles Lakers to bits, the 131-92 final score cemented in Celtic lore.

Exactly 713 days have gone by since Coach Phil Jackson and his staff watched an animated Paul Pierce celebrate with his Celtics teammates, a full five minutes before the final horn officially ended the series.

Nearly 24 months ago Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates were forced to sit by idly as a crowd of belligerent Bostonians pelted their team bus with rocks and insults.

Yes, it’s been two years since the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals to their arch-rival from Boston. Of course it seems like yesterday to anyone wearing purple and gold during that infamous June of 2008.

That Lakers-Celtics series exposed Los Angeles as a “soft” team unwilling to stand up to the bullies from Bean Town. This year’s matchup promises to be different, with the Lakers’ experience and newfound toughness playing a larger role in the rematch.

“You gotta be better,” Kobe Bryant explains. “You gotta be tougher. Gotta be stronger. You gotta execute better. That’s the mindset.”

That’s the mindset alright, and that sentiment is shared by an entire Lakers team with their sights set on revenge.

It’s only appropriate that Uma Thurman’s revenge-obsessed character in 2003’s Kill Bill series went by the code name Black Mamba, because ever since Kobe adopted that moniker he’s been on a personal quest for vengeance that rivals any in recent history.

It seems as if anyone who has every wronged Kobe Bryant, directly or indirectly, has lived to watch him rise to the top.

Shaquille O’Neal. Check.

Phoenix Suns. Check.

Boston Celtics… They’re up next.

Next: Learning from the past…

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