LOS ANGELES—Reporting from Orlando -- It was a night of redemption for the Lakers.
The NBA championship the Lakers won by defeating the Orlando Magic, 99-86, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals tonight at Amway Arena redeemed so many of them. It was the Lakers' first championship since 2002, the 15th in their storied franchise's history.
It was Kobe Bryant's fourth championship, his first without Shaquille O'Neal at center. Bryant, who had 30 points, six rebounds and five assists, has always wanted to lead the Lakers to an NBA championship.
Now he has, picking up the NBA Finals' MVP award in the process. When it was over, the Lakers hugged each other as a group.
Then Bryant found Derek Fisher, the point guard that he had won three NBA titles with, the guy he had respect for, and hugged him long and hard.
It was the 10th championship that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has won, breaking the tie he held with Red Auerbach for the most as a coach in NBA history. It was Jackson's fourth with the Lakers.
The Lakers had lost year's championship series to the Boston Celtics in six games, losing Game 6 by 39 points, the second-worst defeat in a game-clincher in NBA history.
But the Lakers won this championship in five games, two victories coming in overtime.
When Bryant made a three-pointer for an 83-67 lead with 8:19 left, he knew then the championship was for him and the Lakers.
When the Magic called a timeout, Bryant balled up his fist after he had scored. He bent over and clinched his teeth before taking a seat on the bench.
As the Lakers go forward, they'll have some decisions to make.
Bryant can terminate the last two years of his $47.8 million contract this summer and sign a five-year, $135-million deal with the Lakers. Bryant has said he wants to retire a Laker.
Jackson has one more year left on his contract at $12 million. He has said his health will be a factor in whether or not he returns. But Jackson is expected back next season.
Trevor Ariza, who had 15 points and five rebounds, and Lamar Odom, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds, both will be free agents this summer.
Ariza made $3.1 million this season and will be looking for a big pay raise.
Odom was on the Lakers' books for $14.1 million, but probably will have to take a pay cut to remain a Laker next season.
But all that is for another day.
This day, this Sunday, the Lakers celebrated an NBA championship.
After Lamar Odom had made the second of his back-to-back three-pointers, the Magic called a timeout with 6:38 left in the third quarter.