In 2009, Kobe Bryant finally got a ring without Shaq. Before he could do that, he had to get past Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets. After the teams split the first two games of the Western Conference Finals in Los Angeles, the Lakers took back home-court advantage with a 103-97 win in Denver. Kobe scored 41.
Kobe went 12 of 24 from the field and 15 of 17 from the line to go along with six rebounds, five assists and two steals. It wasn't the most points he'd ever scored in a playoff game, but it was just enough. The Lakers would go on to win in six as Kobe upheld his side of the puppet bargain.
While Kobe getting a ring at Dwight Howard's expense in 2009 is nice, the real tragedy of this season is that the Magic ousted the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, robbing the world of a LeBron-Kobe Finals. Remember the Kobe and LeBron puppets? That was 2009.
The '08-'09 Lakers went 65-17 and were the top seed in the Western Conference. It is tied for the third-best record in franchise history, two wins behind the '99-'00 Lakers. Combined with the championship, it makes for one of the best Lakers teams of all time.