The Los Angeles Lakers were so unamused by winning the Western Conference Finals in the 2008-09 season that Jeanie Buss used the trophy as a doorstop at one point years later, according to The Messenger’s Arash Markazi.
In the 2007-08 campaign, the Lakers also won the Western Conference, but they came up short in the NBA Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics. Clearly, the Lakers only had a championship in mind in the 2008-09 season.
“Lakers owner Jeanie Buss smiled as she welcomed me into her office, but I couldn’t stop staring at the trophy on the floor outside her door,” Markazi wrote. “This was before the Lakers moved into their current practice facility in 2017 — maybe she was in the middle of packing or redecorating — but sitting on the floor, effectively serving as a doorstop, was the 2009 Western Conference championship trophy.
“It’s an image I’ll never forget as I walked into her office where the 10 Larry O’Brien trophies the Lakers won under Dr. Jerry Buss’s ownership were displayed by a window overlooking the team’s practice court.
“I was in Denver the night the Lakers won that trophy being used as a doorstop. It was perhaps the most subdued trophy presentation in sports history. Kobe Bryant scowled and folded his arms as Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak accepted the trophy without touching it. The Lakers actually walked out of the room following the presentation and left the trophy behind. The only thing that mattered was winning a world championship and hanging another banner at the then-Staples Center.”
There clearly was a focus within the 2008-09 Lakers, with an NBA title being the one and only goal. That sort of mentality is part of what has made the Lakers franchise so historic.
In the end, L.A. won not only the 2009 NBA Finals, but the 2010 NBA Finals as well, with Bryant leading the way.
The Lakers legend won back-to-back NBA Finals MVP awards, earning his fourth and fifth NBA championships of his storied career.
The Lakers have won 17 NBA championships as a franchise, with their most recent title coming in the 2019-20 season in the NBA’s Orlando, Fla. bubble.
Now, the team is gearing up for a new championship run, as it plays the Indiana Pacers in the championship game of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament on Saturday. This is the first season that the league has introduced such a tournament, and the Lakers cruised to the title game by dominating the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night.
While NBA Finals trophies and banners seem to be the most important thing for the Lakers franchise, it’s hard to estimate what the impact of an In-Season Tournament title would be, especially since it is the first to exist in the NBA.
It’s unclear whether Los Angeles will hang a banner in Crypto.com Arena if it wins Saturday night’s championship game.
While the Lakers have historically only looked at NBA titles as the gold standard, this is uncharted territory for every NBA franchise.
Regardless, the Lakers certainly would love to win the In-Season Tournament, and if they do, maybe they’ll use that win as motivation — similar to the 2008-09 Lakers — to go on and bring home another NBA title in the LeBron James era.