The Game: 2010 Finals, Game 7
The Series Situation: Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics tied, 3-3
The Play: With Kobe Bryant struggling through a horrid 6-for-24 shooting performance in what was shaping up as the defining moment of his career, Ron Artest rescued him by sinking a 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of Paul Pierce with a minute to play. That shot pushed the Lakers' lead to 79-73 with a minute to go, providing the breathing room needed to hold off the Celtics and secure the Lakers' second straight championship.
The Significance: This wasn't just a rematch of the series the Celtics two years earlier. This was yet another Lakers-Celtics Finals battle ... and one that Kobe was desperate to win to both exorcise his personal demons, to show that he could win it all (again) without Shaquille O'Neal and to also stick it to the hated Celtics. The only thing more entertaining than the frantic finish to the game was Artest's postgame media session, where he was at his maniacal best trying to explain his emotions during the crowning moment of his tumultuous career. He saved Kobe from one of the most deplorable performances by an all-time great player in a game of this magnitude.
Artest also reshaped the narrative of his own career, resurrecting his image, in the eyes of many, after being the central figure in the brawl between Detroit Pistons fans and the Indiana Pacers at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004. This was Artest singing redemption's song in the sweetest way, by playing hero on the biggest stage of his career, with a shot no one in the building would have predicted he'd take or make given his struggles from deep throughout the series. Who knew that it would prove to be the last time Kobe, Artest and the Lakers would see The Finals for years?
-- Sekou Smith
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