The final score was 106-93 and years from now some may look at that and envision it as a close game. It was not a close game. In fact, the Miami Heat never led in this game. Not once. The Lakers took the lead and never relinquished it. Think about that. This was a total domination by the Los Angeles Lakers.
There was some concern going into this game. The Lakers wanted to close things out in Game 5, but Jimmy Butler, with help from Duncan Robinson, extended the series. In Game 6 you saw the impact that game had on the Heat. They looked slow, a step behind and somehow – not engaged. The Lakers came out ready to avenge a very tough loss and not miss a close-out opportunity again. Anthony Davis was a concern, but he gamely played through pain. He wasn’t 100% but still managed to contribute 19 pts, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks. Could the Lakers bounce back from a disappointing loss? Was Anthony Davis going to be a factor? Yes, there were concerns going into Game 6.
Answers to both concerns though were a solid Yes, they bounced back and Yes, AD was a factor!
The player of the game for the Lakers was not Davis however. It wasn’t LeBron James. No, the player of Game 6 for the Lakers was Rajon Rondo. The same Rondo that took a lot of heat from Lakers fans for lackluster play throughout the season. The same Rondo that made a name for himself as a Boston Celtics player, that affiliation making it rough for some Lakers fans to embrace him. That Rondo was the catalyst that took the game from the Miami Heat in the second quarter. He was crafty, looking one way as he barked out orders to a teammate as a Heat defender dropped his guard. As soon as Rondo saw an opening, he would fly by whoever was guarding him for layup after layup.
He made the right pass when it was needed. He allowed LeBron James to get some rest without impacting the playmaking on the court. He finished the game with 19 pts, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. The Lakers punched the Heat in the mouth in the second quarter putting the game, effectively, out of reach. Rondo was the fist.
The player of the series however was undoubtedly LeBron James. He is the closest player to Magic Johnson we have ever seen. He makes passes only Magic could make. He defends the other teams best player and locks him down when its needed. He shoots threes, he dunks with authority, he is… amazing. Now, he is a 4 time Champion and a 4 time Finals MVP after winning his third Championship with his third different team.
Rajon Rondo is the only player to win a Championship with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. Clyde Lovellette played for the Boston Celtics and Minneapolis Lakers winning Championships with both franchises, but only Rondo has done it for LA and Boston. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a Champion in his seventh season. Dwight Howard in his 16th! Alex Caruso, who was a two-way G-League player and started in an NBA Finals tonight, is a Champion in season #3.
This team won because they dedicated themselves to being a team. They played inspired defense and were led by two forces on offense in AD and LBJ. They also won for Kobe Bryant. Losing Bryant at the start of 2020 was a precursor for the type of year we have had. That tragedy impacted so many Lakers and basketball fans throughout the world. It also impacted each and every player wearing the purple and gold. He was a friend and/or mentor to some, a big brother to others; he was an inspiration to all.
In a very real way Championship #17 is for #24/#8.
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!