The Los Angeles Lakers captured their 16th title Thursday with an 83-79 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the NBA Finals. The Lakers and Celtics have now captured more than half the championships in NBA history.
Finals MVP Kobe Bryant admitted his shooting was off Thursday night because he tried too hard and wanted to beat the Celtics “too much.” Bryant had 23 points on only 6-24 shooting but he did have 15 rebounds. The game was also redemption for Lakers crazy man Ron Artest who may be the first player in NBA history to publicly thank his psychiatrist for his championship ring. Artest manned up with 20 points in Game Seven to help pick up the slack for Bryant who had a rare bad night shooting. However, the Lakers best player Thursday was forward Pau Gasol who had 19 points and 18 rebounds, all while making numerous huge plays.
Amazingly, Lakers coach Phil Jackson may not be back with the team next season. Maybe it’s because of owner Jerry Buss’ gambling addiction or just his cheapness but no decision has been made yet to bring Jackson back next year. Jackson earned $12 million this season. He would probably want $16 million or more to stay. Buss may make the economic decision to let him go. Bryant is set to make $25 million in 2010-11. He is up for a $90 million max contract extension. The Lakers also just signed Gasol to a contract that will pay him over $74 million through 2014.
In the short term, LA will probably sell out all of their games next season anyway, even without Jackson. However, the last time the Lakers decided not to pay The Zen Master they went 34-58. The last guy who coached the Lakers in the 2000’s that was not Phil Jackson had a winning percentage of .256. That was Frank Hamblen in 2005. He went 10-29 WITH Kobe Bryant. Jackson won three NBA Championships with the Lakers before Hamblen. Same team. Much different results. Jackson has also been to the Finals three times since replacing Hamblen and just won back-to-back World Championships. Jackson has coached 10 years in L.A. since 2000. All ten teams finished over .500 and made the playoffs. In fact, seven of those ten Jackson-coached Lakers teams have gone to the Finals. Jackson has five championships with the Lakers. That’s now 11 championship teams Jackson has coached with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls, making him one of the great coaches in sports history. He even got a ring as a player with the New York Knicks in the -70s.
Why in God’s name would the Lakers even hesitate to bring Jackson back? Here’s a hint:
According to Vanity Fair, Buss has a serious gambling problem and has incurred “substantial losses.” The magazine quotes a story from the L.A. Business Journal which describes a “personal sell-a-thon” by the Lakers owner to cover his gambling debts. Buss was forced to sell his hockey team, coin collection, ranch and even his Beverly Hills mansion in order to support his gambling habit. That may not bode well for Jackson or the Lakers. Jackson says he will make his decision whether or not to return to the Lakers within a week. However, this is starting to look like a Chicgo Bulls fiasco all over again. That’s how Jackson ended up with the Lakers in the first place. Some dumbass owner thinking he and “the organization” were more important than the coaches or players.
PAU GASOL CAME UP HUGE FOR THE LAKERS