Lessons Learned Propel Kobe Bryant, Lakers To New Heights

I admit, it's incredibly cliche to go around quoting the late, great John Wooden, as everyone seems to be doing in the wake of his passing.  The man's legacy is as much the product of wisdom as winning.  Perhaps, then, it's more difficult than anything to avoid invoking the words of the Wizard of Westwood, especially when talking about the game of basketball.

My chosen nugget of wisdom for the day: "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts".

After spending the last two weeks observing and musing about an NBA Finals series rife with twists, turns, performances incredible and incredulous alike, and a never-ending string of statistical and historical story-lines, concluded by a most improbable Game 7 in which the Lakers came away with a victory despite one of the absolute worst offensive displays ever captured on video, it is clearer than ever that there will always be something to surprise, something to shock, something to make you scratch your head before you realize that it hasn't all been done before, even if you've seen and done most of it.

Even if your name is Kobe Bryant.  Even if you've played in seven NBA Finals, winning four, on the verge of capturing a fifth.  Even if you've won MVP awards for the regular season, the All-Star game, and the Finals.  Even if you've won an Olympic gold medal as the go-to guy on your team.  Even if you've scored eighty one points in a single game. Even if you know you're the best player - on your team, in the series, on the planet, etc.

There's always something you haven't done, something new to experience.

For Kobe, Game 7 of the Finals was just that.  He'd never truly been in a situation like this - one game for all the marbles.  Sure, Kobe's dealt with intense pressure before, but nothing like this.  On this night, it wasn't just Kobe against Ray Allen or Tony Allen or Paul Pierce or whoever else the Celtics...

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