Lakers close out the Magic in 5 to win the NBA Championship

Kobe Bryant(notes) has the NBA title, he needed most—the one without Shaq.

Bryant’s seven-year chase of a coveted championship is over. He’s got his fourth, and Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson his record 10th, a ring for each finger. One year after failing in the finals, Bryant and the Lakers have redemption, and all the rewards that go with it.

They earned their 15th title on Sunday night as Bryant scored 30 points and Pau Gasol(notes) added 14 and 15 rebounds in a 99-86 win in Game 5 over the Orlando Magic, who ran out of comebacks.

It took longer than Bryant expected, but he has stepped out of former teammate Shaquille O’Neal’s(notes) enormous shadow—at last. His fourth championship secured a strong case can be made for Bryant being the league’s best player since Michael Jordan hung up his sneakers.

O’Neal, now with the Phoenix Suns, was glad to see the Bryant win another title.

“Congratulations kobe, u deserve it,” O’Neal said on Twitter page. “You played great. Enjoy it my man enjoy it.”

Bryant’s coach stands alone.

Jackson, the chilled-out, bow-legged Zen Master who won six league titles in the 1990s with Jordan in Chicago, now has won No. 4 with Los Angeles and broke a tie with legendary Boston coach Red Auerbach as the winningest coach in finals history.

“I’ll smoke the cigar tonight in memory of Red,” Jackson said. “He was a great guy.”

Bryant and Jackson, whose relationship strained and briefly snapped under the weight of success, are again at the top of their games.


Nothing was going to stop Bryant, who spent the postseason scowling, snarling, baring his teeth and all but breathing fire at anything in his path. For weeks, the All-Star has worn his game face, and only when the victory was his in the final seconds did the finals MVP allow himself to smile.

After the final horn, he leaped into the air and was quickly engulfed by his teammates, who bounced around the floor of Amway Arena. Bryant then gave a long, heartfelt hug and shared a few words with Jackson before sweeping up his daughters, both wearing gold Lakers dresses, into his arms.