2010 NBA Finals: What Game 7 Means for Kobe Bryant

Nothing in the world of sports is quite like a Game 7. Game 7s indicate a hard-fought series between two evenly matched teams. It's a rare moment when a single game will determine who wins the championship. Either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics is leaving the Staples Center Thursday night with the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

Kobe Bryant has been given an opportunity to do something Michael Jordan never has: win an NBA Finals Game 7. If the Lakers win, Bryant will tie Magic Johnson for the most championships won while wearing a Lakers jersey.

Clearly, there's a lot at stake.

It's important to note that Bryant has already proven himself to be one of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. His legacy is secure. At the same time, it's highly unlikely he will ever surpass Jordan and claim the title of all-time greatest.

Bryant is playing to be the best of his generation. A win would give him five titles, breaking a three-way tie between him, Tim Duncan, and former teammate Shaquille O'Neal for most rings since Jordan.

If the Lakers win, Bryant would presumably be awarded Finals MVP. That would be his second time winning the award, putting him one behind Duncan and Shaq.

Bryant may already be the best player since His Airness. However, he cannot definitively claim that distinction. A Game 7 victory would strengthen his case.

Despite a solid postseason career, Bryant still lacks a signature playoff game. By default, Game 7 will be an event his fans or critics will use to build a case for, or against, him. Having a game for the ages would go a long way toward quieting his critics.

Great players need classic games. They need moments people can point to when a new generation asks, "Was he really that good?"

Bryant understands how legacies are constructed. He knows the history of the game. He realizes that an exhilarating performance in a Finals Game 7 can grant him NBA imm...

About the Author