This one is for the fans, who were reminded countless times that no team had lost the Finals and then won a championship the next year since the Detroit Pistons did it in 1989.
This one is for the players, who tasted the promised land only to be pushed back into the desert, and have since worked so hard to succeed where they failed a year ago.
This one is for Phil Jackson, who won his tenth ring as a coach to break his tie with Red Auerbach and take his rightful place as the greatest coach ever, not only in NBA basketball, but in all of the major American sports.
This one is for Kobe Bryant, who finally got that "big old monkey" off his back by leading his Lakers to his first championship as the unquestioned team leader and best player. For Bryant, who now has one more cookie to satisfy his tremendous hunger (if only temporarily).
This one is for you; keep reading...
This one is for Pau Gasol, who was once labeled "soft," but is now clearly one of the toughest
scrawny big men in the league. For Gasol, who was snubbed with his placement on only the 3rd Team All-NBA, but surely has a lot of voters wishing for a do-over.
This one is for Trevor Ariza, who was called "delusional" and tossed aside by Orlando, only to become a vital cog in the Lakers' championship machine, punishing team after team for disregarding him – not the least of which was the very team that foolishly let him go.
This one is for Lamar "Candyman" Odom, the magician without an assistant, who has been criticized for all of eternity for his disappearing acts, but delivered in a big way throughout the later stages of the 2009 Playoffs.
This one is for Derek Fisher, who struggled throughout the playoffs and took a lot of grief for his poor play, only to make two of the biggest shots of the entire season.
This one is for Luke Walton, who arrived on the scene just in time to lose in the Finals in 2004, and then again in 2008, but finally got his first postseason victory – and a well-earned one it was. For Josh Powell, who was told he would never play in this league, only to find his place as a solid bench player on one of the best championship teams ever. For Shannon Brown, a seemingly irrelevant afterthought in a trade made primarily to dump salary, who now shows tremendous promise as a point guard for a team whose only true weakness is the point guard position. For the first-timers, winning not their fourth or tenth championship rings, but their first.
This one is for the fans, who stuck with Kobe Bryant through thick and thin – through Shaq, Colorado, Bynum, Phoenix, and of course, Kwame Brown, Smush Parker, and Brian Cook – and who have waited with him for what felt like an eternity, longing only for a championship that none could take away from him, and one that, at the same time, would validate all the others.
This one is for all of Laker Nation, which suffered the heart-wrenching loss in the 2008 Finals, and can now bask in the glory of a truly dominant victory in five games over a formidable opponent.
This one is for you. Enjoy it; bask in the glory of the Lakers' 15th championship, Phil Jackson's 10th, Kobe and Fish's fourth, and Pau Gasol's first. Soak in this moment. And stick with us – we're going to ride this high (as I've been known to say, a better high than any drug could ever provide) as far as it will take us, and we've only just begun. Plenty of in-depth analysis of Game 5, the Finals, the Playoffs, and the Season to come.
And for now, I believe I speak for all Lakers fans when I say, "Thank you, Lakers, for an unbelievable season, and for the opportunity to share this journey with you as fans. The experience has been richly rewarding, and the result, of course, is a tremendous joy to participate in."