Let’s dial it back to the last time LeBron James missed the NBA Finals:
2010 NBA Finals. Game 7. Staples Center.
Championship #16 for Los Angeles or Banner #18 for Boston.
The Lakers had everything going for them coming into this winner-take-all Game 7.
Before being known as a Shaqtin a Fool legend, Kendrick Perkins was a vital cog on defense for the Celtics as he would be tasked to act as an interior deterrent, especially against bigs like Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom.
He was doing a splendid job all throughout this series, until he was carted off with a knee injury in Game 6 — where the home team promptly blew out the Celtics, capped by a bunch of high-flying Shannon Brown dunks:
But as Game 7 went underway, things were starting to look up for Boston.
Kevin Garnett was having his way against Gasol, Rajon Rondo’s making Kobe pay from sticking close to him by attacking the basket, and the rest of the Celtics were hitting their shots.
Meanwhile, two of the Lakers’ all-stars in Kobe and Pau were struggling mightily in shooting, as if a lid was put on top of the basket. However, the game was still close with Ron Artest (of all people) leading the charge. At the end of the third period, Boston was clinging to a four-point lead.
From there, the Lakers came out relentlessly attacking, drawing numerous fouls, putting Boston in the penalty early.
The game would go back and forth in thrilling fashion, but in the last minute with the shot clock winding down, Ron Artest would hit this clutch three-pointer, effectively winning the game for Los Angeles:
As Odom would throw an outlet pass to Bryant in the last few seconds, Bryant would come running, raising his hands in victory as the Lakers would win back-to-back championships.
With the championship trophy being raised in front of the LA faithful, Kobe Bryant would be named as the Finals MVP, averaging 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists, while claiming his fifth ring.
“This (fifth championship) one’s by far is the sweetest because it’s against them (Boston Celtics), and because it is the hardest one by far, ” said Bryant when asked on what this championship meant to him.