It’ll be a memorable night for the Lakers, for better or worse, with so many elements up for grabs, as if a Game 7 against the Boston Celtics needed to distinguish itself any further.
If the Lakers beat their hated rivals Thursday at Staples Center, Kobe Bryant collects a fifth championship ring, tying Magic Johnson and moving within one of Michael Jordan.
If Bryant can push them to one more victory, their 73rd and most important of the season, they’ll earn a 16th championship trophy, one fewer than Boston, and take some sting out of their painful Finals loss two years ago to the Celtics.
If Pau Gasol can dominate down low without Kendrick Perkins there to clog the lane, Coach Phil Jackson can pick up an 11th championship and something else he has never done — a Game 7 victory in the NBA Finals. It will be Jackson’s first attempt, and perhaps his only, if he decides later this month to retire from coaching.
Bryant, for his part, made his expectations well known ahead of Game 7, only the fifth of his 14-year career. Nothing less than a victory is acceptable.