Lakers News: 2009 Finals Opponent Unpacks Kobe Bryant’s Influence
14-year NBA point guard Jameer Nelson recently chatted with Bally Sports Network’s Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson on several Lakers-centric topics. A big focal
point of the discussion centered around the influence of Bryant, whom Nelson faced off against during the 2009 NBA Finals.
During his run to the Finals, Nelson enjoyed the most productive season of his career. The six-footer out of Saint Joseph’s was named to the 2009 All-Star
team, and finished the season with averages of 16.7 points, 5.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals a night, with shooting splits of .503/.453/.887. A torn
right shoulder labrum limited Nelson to just 42 contests during the regular season. He also missed the Magic’s entire postseason romp through the Eastern
Conference, but was able to return for the team’s Finals bout with Bryant, Pau Gasol, and the rest of the Lakers.
During that series, Nelson came off the bench for the Magic to preserve the rhythm of the team’s new starting unit. Rafer Alston started in Nelson’s stead
during the series. All-Stars Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis, plus point forward Hedo Türkoğlu, served as the Magic’s team leaders throughout the playoffs.
Through the playoffs, Bryant posted averages of 30.2 points, 5.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 0.9 blocks a night, on shooting splits of
.457/.349/.883. The Lakers would go on to win their 15th title against Orlando, thanks in large part to Finals MVP Bryant’s efforts.
It turns out that Nelson, a native of Chester, PA, had always been a fan of Bryant’s, who was a local legend at rival Lower Merion High School. Nelson said, “I
got criticized by the people in Chester because when he got drafted, I had his jersey and they were like, “Why are you wearing this dude’s jersey?” and I’m
like, ‘I don’t care what y’all say. This dude’s a BAD dude!’ and my stepfather to this day, still has his jersey at their house.”
Nelson went on to mention to Robinson that Bryant’s notorious work ethic rubbed off on him, too.
“Now you’re talking about a dude that’s determined and a dude that was going to do whatever it took to win… like, that’s HIM,” Nelson said. “I heard what he
was doing, I was trying to get my work in. If he was doing it for those many hours, I GOTTA do at least something similar to what he’s doing in terms of the