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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Laker are 2009 NBA Champions

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—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.

His 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.

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

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