Finals reaction

Bill Plaschke, LA Times: Bryant, the Finals MVP, becomes possibly the most unburdened player in NBA history as he finally wins a title without former teammate and nemesis Shaquille O’Neal, who had earlier won one without Bryant. “I just don’t have to hear that criticism, that idiotic criticism, anymore,” said Bryant, who ended a week of growling intensity by literally gnawing at his fingernails in anticipation of Sunday’s final horn. Sitting with a Moet-soaked T-shirt in the interview room underneath Amway Arena, Bryant shook his head, grinning and chuckling, the taut and tough leader finally admitting that the Shaq rap ripped him. “It was like Chinese water torture . . . it was just annoying . . . I would cringe every time,” he said. “I was just like, it’s a challenge I’m just going to have to accept because there’s no way I’m going to argue it.”

George Diaz, Orlando Sentinel: A flurry of turnovers, missteps and mistakes. The Magic bumbled their way through the evening, turning the Am into a roadhouse version of the Staples Center. It was an embarrassing way to say goodbye to the season. You lose, you lose. But you always play hard. Always. The Magic only did that in spurts Sunday. And that’s how you get blown out by a superior team. The Lakers deserved to be champions. They found ways to close out games in the clutch, unlike the Magic, who lost two of these matchups in overtime.

Michael Ventre, NBC Sports
: Next season the Lakers have a team returning that, theoretically, should be favored to repeat. The club has two major free agents in Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza to try and lock up, but given the history of the Lakers and the fact that both players were vitally important to this championship run, it appears that will occur. It would not be a surprise if general manager Mitch Kupchak snagged another player through free agency or the draft, either. It’s almost impossible for any coach to turn his back on that. The allure of another championship? It’s one thing if a coach is foiled time after time by the agony of the pursuit, has a relationship with the Larry O’Brien Trophy similar to the one Captain Ahab had with Moby Dick, and just decides to pack it in. It’s quite another if someone says to the reigning virtuoso, “How would you like to play Carnegie Hall one more time?”

Chris Sheridan, ESPN: Want to know why Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson sat there on the Magic bench, blank expressions adorning their faces, after that final buzzer? Why Superman and one of his All-Star sidekicks stuck around as the championship trophy podium was hastily assembled and the Lakers stood victorious atop it? Because that was what Howard wanted, and he wanted Nelson to witness, feel and share every raw, painful emotion that was tearing him apart inside. “He wanted me to sit out there and let it soak in so we could get that feeling — that bad feeling, actually, of how it feels, and not let it happen again,” Nelson said. “We don’t want it to happen again, so we stay out there to let it soak in, get upset a little bit. “A motivational thing, that’s it,” Nelson said.

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