In Robert Rossen's great 1961 film, "The Hustler," George C. Scott tells Paul Newman that "talent is not enough to be a champion; it takes character." No one ever doubted that the Lakers had the talent. At times it seemed as if the team would relax, hoping that the talent would take over, and at times, those lapses cost them dearly.
But, this year, under the guidance of Pat Riley, the Lakers' true character emerged and these extraordinarily gifted athletes came together to play as perhaps no basketball team has in recent memory. Riley's patient tutelage and developing of the team's maturity is surely one of the least appreciated feats of this season.