Los Angeles Lakers 2019-20 NBA Champions

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Evan Correa, Student Journalist

This NBA season has been nothing short of absurd, given that all games paused on March 11 due to the growing outbreak of COVID-19. This hiatus continued for around five months until it officially restarted on July 30, albeit in a bubble, where no fans nor family members could join the players. 

In what can certainly be called a fitting end to one of the most obscure NBA seasons in recent history, the Los Angeles Lakers bested the Miami Heat 106-93 to win the Best of 7 series 4-2. 

This championship is especially significant, considering the tragic passing of Lakers legend and pop culture icon Kobe Bryant, in January of this year. In a post-game interview, LeBron James, the Finals MVP for the Lakers, did not hold back the significance of winning this title for Bryant. 

Speaking of Bryant’s death, James said, “It brought the whole basketball world close as well, but when you’re internal and it hits home, it just means that much more and we locked in from that very moment and said, ‘This is bigger than us.'”

Anthony Davis, another Lakers superstar, also said, “Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him. I know he’s looking down on us proud of us. I know Vanessa’s proud of us, the organization’s proud of us. It means a lot to us. It’s a tough moment, man. He was a big brother to all of us. We did this for him”

The series itself was one of the most thrilling and competitive series in recent history despite the fact that the fifth-seeded Miami Heat were heavy underdogs in this series. There was a bit of storyline coming into the series, considering that LeBron James once played for the Miami Heat and their coach Erik Spoelstra.  Here is a short recap of all the games that were played:

Game 1 (Series 1-0): For the first game of the 2020 NBA Finals, the Lakers met their lofty expectations and manhandled the Heat to win the game 116-98. Anthony Davis put up a well-rounded statline with a game-high 34 points, going 11-21 from the field and 2-4 from 3-point range, nine rebounds, five assists, and three blocks. LeBron James contributed with 25 points, 13 rebounds, and nine assists. 

Game 2 (2-0): The Lakers put on another offensive clinic in this game, putting away the Heat 124-114. LeBron James led the game in scoring with 33 points while shooting 14-25 from the field. Anthony Davis was not far behind, with 32 points while going 15-20 from the field. 

Game 3 (2-1): Likely realizing that the momentum was heavily against them, the Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, built off a small halftime lead to beat the Lakers 115-104. Butler shouldered much of the offensive load for these Heat; scoring 40 points on 14-20 shooting, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out 13 assists. Anthony Davis was practically invisible during this game, scoring only 15 points on 6-9 shooting. 

Game 4 (3-1): Coming off of a tough loss in Game 3, the Lakers came back with discipline and determination to beat the Heat 102-96. LeBron James led the game in scoring with 28 points on 8-16 shooting. Anthony Davis was close behind with 22 points on 8-16 shooting. By the end of this game, the common consensus was that the Lakers would finish off the Heat in the upcoming Game 5. 

Game 5 (3-2): In what can easily be considered the most thrilling game of this season, the Miami Heat edged past the Lakers 111-108. This game was tightly contested throughout, with a total of 16 lead changes. The duel between James and Butler came to a climax in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter where the respective superstars exchanged baskets on three straight possessions. While down one with 16 seconds left in the game, the Heat triple-teamed James forcing him to dish it out to a wide open Danny Green at the top of the key.  Despite his shooting struggles in the playoffs, nobody watching expected him to miss off of the front rim. Even though Markieff Morris pulled down the offensive board, he squandered the opportunity with a bad pass that led to a turnover. 

Jimmy Butler and young sharpshooter Duncan Robinson led all Heat scorers with 35 and 26 points respectively. LeBron James led all Lakers scorers with 40 points on 15-21 shooting. 

Game 6 (4-2 Lakers win series): With a chance to clinch a victory in the Finals, the Lakers outplayed the Heat in practically every category on route to a resounding 106-93 victory. The final score doesn’t tell the entire story either, as the Lakers held a 29 point lead entering the fourth quarter. LeBron James put on a clinic with a 28 point, 14 rebound and ten assist triple-double. After the game, he was named Finals MVP for the fourth time in his storied career. 

Despite the amazing accomplishments of all players involved, the biggest victory was conducting over 200 games without a single positive test for the Coronavirus. This is no doubt due to the masterful planning by league executives alongside the obedience and consideration of the players and staff in the bubble. Thanks to the dedication of the players, coaches, and league executives, an NBA season that no one could have possibly  imagined is now ending in its usual fashion with a champion crowned.