The North Carolina Tar Heels capped off a long season with another championship on their belt. Roy Williams got a step closer to greatness while his players got a taste of what being a champion felt like. But this championship came with a chip added on to their shoulders. The Tar Heels labeled this season “Redemption” due to how their last season ended.
If you didn’t know, UNC was in this same position last season but they fell victim to a devastating buzzer beater. It was a crushing way to end a season but that taste of almost winning pushed them to get back to this very place and writing their names in the history books. Watching the North Carolina Tar Heels complete their redemption push inspired me to bring up some of the best redemption moments in basketball history.
2010 Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics
Many thought it was the year of the Los Angeles Lakers and that Kobe Bryant was going to get his first NBA Championship without Shaq by his side in 2008. However, the Boston Celtics had other plans. The first year of the “Big Three” in Boston, they asserted their dominance as the best defense in basketball and that defense played a huge factor in the series against the Lakers. While the matchup was pretty balanced between these two teams, the Boston Celtics ended the series in 6 games with a 131-92 victory.
However, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers would get their redemption in 2010 as they faced the Boston Celtics again in the Finals. Similar to 2008, it was an evenly matched contest but this time the Lakers would not be denied. They matched the energy of the Celtics and after gaining growth and maturity over the past two years, they were able to come out on top this time around. This gave Kobe Bryant his fifth title and after getting embarrassed by the Celtics in the last game in 2008, there was no question which of his titles felt the best.
Fast forward to the 1:51 mark to hear why Kobe Bryant calls 2010 his favorite championship.
2014 San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat
In 2013 the San Antonio Spurs almost added their 5th championship to the rafters. They were minutes away from winning the NBA Finals in game 6 on the Miami Heat’s court but a Ray Allen three-pointer ended that narrative. The Miami Heat went on to win game 6 and 7 making them back-to-back champions.
That very next year, we were witnesses to another rematch between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. After facing that 2013 loss, the Spurs were out for blood. They handled LeBron James and the Heat winning the series 4-1. Each victory for San Antonio came in double digits making Finals history with the greatest point differential of 14.0. It was redemption at its finest as the Spurs came back and answered after the 2013 devastating Finals loss.