We all know the story by now. After years of toiling away for the Wolves, Kevin Garnett finally manages to break on through to the other side. Watching his post-game interview, seeing just how happy and relieved he was, really gave me goosebumps. I'm not exactly his biggest fan, but it was just so sweet to see him get his ring. If not for the fact that I was at work during that moment, I bet a tear would've been shed.
It just feels so good because his victory is sort of like a validation that hard work truly pays off. I didn't always believe that, especially since I value "smart work" more than "hard work", but it works. KG just proved it.
It's inspiring because here was a guy who was mad-talented (who certainly had enough clout to influence management) but kept it classy throughout the years. He may have shown some frustration (who hasn't?) but it was always of the "get me some help" variety instead of the standard "ship my ass out". He didn't want to leave 'Sota, he always wanted to stay. Even as recently as the 2006-2007 season, he was begging for Iverson to come to his team. Only when it seemed hopeless did he finally give up on the Wolves. Yet, when he won his title, he never forgot Minnesota. Loyalty. Apparently, wolves are also familiar with the concept.
Then, here was this dude named Paul Pierce, who just wouldn't let his team lose. Here's a dude who, knowing that his window is slowly closing, just up and decided to take matters into his own hands and never let this one slip away. Remember the regret you felt when you didn't ask out that one special girl? Well, P-Double asked his out, and closed the deal to boot. The sense of urgency I saw in his every drive was phenomenal. It's called "seizing the day", and boy, did Paul ever seize.
And that's just from two players. I won't even write about Rajon Rondo playing on a broken foot, Ray Allen putting family first but still knocking down 7 treys in the series clincher, and Doc Rivers' rise to prominence after his stint in coaching hell.But on the other end of the spectrum, we have the Los Angeles Lakers, who suffered a humiliating meltdown at the hands of the Celtics. Yes, they deserve more credit than they are getting right now. After all, they did still beat the defending champions.
Still, though, you can't help but feel a little disgusted at their performances. Once again, Lamar Odom crumbled in the Finals, but it's not like the Spurs were chopped liver. I truly believe that if we are to conclude that Odom is unable to play in big games, then he would've done it way back when they were battling the Utah Jazz. As it stands, however, LO only played consistently terrible against the Celtics. And I think it has to do more with lack of effort than anything else. Same goes for Pau Gasol, who only seemed interested in playing during portions of a game.
And I think that's the biggest reason the Los Angeles Lakers lost. They didn't want it enough. Maybe they became over-confident, or maybe they quit so early into the series. I can totally see it happening, though. They must've felt like for the next 5 years or so, they will be strong championship contenders. And that they can afford to let this one slip, because -MAYBE- they believed they will be in the Finals again next year. Which is not guaranteed, at all. I'm sure Kobe Bryant doesn't feel this way, and neither does Derek Fisher. But what about the rest of this young team?
It's like all those times we say to ourselves, "there's going to be a second chance"... But what if there isn't? What if that opportunity never presents itself again? Then what are you left with? Nothing but regrets.
Of course it's unrealistic (not to mention physically impossible) for us to grab every opportunity out there. Ultimately, we will have to let some of them go. But that's where priorities come into play. We have to understand what's important, and as far as I can tell, winning a championship is probably the greatest prize in the sport. This is the time when we lay it all out there, similar to the times we worked so damn hard to get a diploma, or conquering fear just to be able to drive. It's that desire for something so great that makes us put our body and mind through so much, and somehow, that's what I felt was missing from the Lakers this year.
Apologies if this turns out to be a tad preachy, and there's probably so many more events that better show the strength of the human body and mind, but this is the most recent reminder that, should we want it enough, we can get it.
Like Kevin Garnett shouted emphatically, "Anything is possible!"
And for the first time in my life, I find myself agreeing with KG.
Thanks for reminding me what I need to do, dog. Congratulations.
Photo credit again goes to Getty Images, from Yahoo!