);
Los Angeles Lakers

This Date in NBA History (June 17): Kobe Bryant wins 5th NBA title as Lakers edge Celtics in Game 7 of 2010 Finals and more

On June 17th in 2010, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers edged the Boston Celtics 83-79 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to repeat as NBA Champions.

This was the Lakers' 16th title in franchise history, just one behind the Celtics' all-time leading tally of 17.

The was the 12th Lakers-Celtics matchup in the NBA Finals and only the third time that the former had come out on top. In fact, this was the first time the Lakers defeated the Celtics in a Game 7, having lost all of their four previous winner-take-all Finals clashes in 1962, 1966, 1969, and 1984.

In this Game 7, despite having the worst shooting game of the series (6-of-24 FG), Bryant was the game's highest scorer with 23 points - 11 of which came at the free-throw line. Playing 45 of a possible 48 minutes, he recorded a Finals career-high 15 rebounds.

"This one is by far the sweetest, because it's them," Bryant said postgame. "This was the hardest one by far. I wanted it so bad, and sometimes when you want it so bad, it slips away from you. My guys picked me up."

In the subsequent championship celebration, the Black Mamba was named Finals MVP - his second consecutive - for series averages of 28.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.1 steals.

For the Celtics, who were playing without their injured starting center in Kendrick Perkins, they had all their starters finish in double figures. Other than Kevin Garnett (17 points; 8-of-13 FG), all Celtics struggled to knock down shots efficiently.

Paul Pierce finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds but only shot 5-of-15 from the field. Rajon Rondo contributed across the board with 14 points (6-of-13 FG), 10 assists, and eight rebounds. Perkins' replacement in the starting line-up, Rasheed Wallace, who was battling a bad back, stepped up and chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds.

"We were scratching and clawing, trying to do everything we could to try to pull this out," said Ray Allen, who had 13 points on 3-of-14 shooting. "We had an opportunity to win, but it just didn't go our way down the stretch. I don't think we ran out of steam. Lady Luck just didn't bounce in our corner. ... There were a lot of tears, a lot of tears."

Both teams were struggling to make shots. In an elite-defensive game, the Celtics held the Lakers to even lower shooting percentage from the field, especially early on, and led by their largest margin of 13 (49-36) with 8:24 to play in the third quarter.

From that point, the Lakers fought back. They closed the third quarter on a 17-7 run and then outscored the C's 30-22 in the final period to win. Bryant scored 10 of his 23 points in the decisive fourth quarter.

The championship was Phil Jackson's fifth title with the Lakers and 11th overall - the most in NBA history.

Among the rest of the Lakers, there were a couple of notable performers. Pau Gasol finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds, and four assists.

Ron Artest, now Metta World Peace, gave arguably his most memorable postgame press conference after he had a great game with 20 points, five rebounds, and five steals while playing a game-high 46 minutes.

Other notable events on June 17th

  • In 1976, four former ABA teams - Denver, Indiana New York and San Antonio - were officially added to the NBA, increasingly the league's tally of teams to 22.
  • In 1992, Phoenix Suns acquired Charles Barkley from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry.
  • In 1994, Patrick Ewing tied a then-NBA Finals record eight blocks in a 91-84 Game 5 win for the New York Knicks against the Houston Rockets. He went on to be the joint leader for the record with Bill Walton, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal until Dwight Howard broke it by recording nine blocks in Game 4 of the 2009 NBA Finals.
  • In 2008, the Boston Celtics defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals for their 17th championship in franchise history and the first in 22 years. The 39-point win is the most lopsided closeout win in NBA Finals history. For averages of 21.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.2 rebounds, Paul Pierce was named Finals MVP.

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