The Los Angeles Lakers are champions once again, and this one will certainly be one of the most unforgettable titles this franchise will have ever earned. After the COVID-19 pandemic halted the NBA back in March, throwing the league's traditional schedule out of whack, the Lakers captured their 17th franchise championship Sunday night after a 106-93 win over the Miami Heat.
It's the first banner the Lakers will hang in Staples Center since their 2010 title, marking the third-longest timespan between two championships in franchise history. This 17th ring also ties them with the Boston Celtics for the most titles in NBA history. The bitter rivalry between the Lakers and Celtics is well chronicled, and both teams have stolen championships from one another. Now, after everything that's happened between them, they're tied atop the NBA record books.
The Lakers struggled mightily to get back to glory after that last championship in 2010 as they were unable to put together quality teams around Kobe Bryant in his later years. From 2014 to 2019, the Lakers failed to even make the postseason, bringing into question how this once-storied franchise could find its way back to the top of the mountain. The arrivals of LeBron James and Anthony Davis proved to be the answer, and with this latest championship they not only reasserted themselves as NBA royalty, took away the Celtics' biggest bragging right.
While these two franchises have storied histories, it had actually been quite some time since we'd seen them playing for a championship. Before this Lakers win, neither franchise had even been to the NBA Finals since they faced off against each other during the 2009-10 season. A big reason why -- for the Celtics anyway -- was LeBron James.
Prior to last year, LeBron had been to the NBA Finals eight straight times, and this appearance with the Lakers marked his 10th overall. He spent majority of his career in the Eastern Conference, and kept the Celtics from getting to the Finals because of it. As for the Lakers, they couldn't capitalize on Kobe's later years, and were never really even close to reaching the Finals.