BOSTON -- If you've never heard much about Leon Powe, you're in good company. The Lakers obviously didn't know all that much about him, which is a huge reason why the NBA Finals are heading to Los Angeles with the Celtics holding a 2-0 lead.
When Phil Jackson came to the postgame interview podium, he mispronouncd Powe's last name and called him "Pow" (or "Pau").
When Kobe Bryant took his turn on the podium, he admitted the Lakers have "got to do a better job focusing on personnel."
So who is this Leon Powe, the 24-year-old power forward who came off the bench to score 21 points in just 14 minutes Sunday night in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, leading Boston to a 108-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers?
Well, for starters, his nickname, "The Show," rhymes with his last name, and was given to him when he was in AAU ball because people talked about going to see Powe the Show.
For another thing, he was acquired by the Celtics by the very same person -- former general manager Chris Wallace -- who giftwrapped Pau Gasol and sent him from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Lakers at midseason.
"He is one of my all-time favorite players. He comes in every day with an upbeat, cheerful attitude, no sense of moodiness, no sense of entitlement," Wallace told ESPN.com by phone early Monday after getting filled in on the details of Powe's performance, which helped the Celtics build a 24-point lead that they ended up needing every bit of to hold off the Lakers' late rally. (Powe's final point, on a foul shot, made it 96-73 with 7:27 remaining.)
Powe was selected with the 49th overall pick in 2006 after his rights were acquired on draft night from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a future second-round pick, the Celtics deciding between the first and second rounds to pull the trigger on the deal because they liked their chances of landing either Powe or Paul Millsap (who went 47th to Utah).
Wallace recalled meeting Powe for the first time after Powe flew from Oakland to Boston and arrived late at night on the Fourth of July. He took Powe and his traveling companion, Bernard Ward, to a drive-thru window at Burger King, telling them along the ride how the Celtics had a pretty nice practice facility, and how the original championship banners were actually hanging at the suburban facility -- not at the arena downtown.
Powe and Ward wanted to have a look, so Wallace drove out to Waltham, Mass., unlocked the facility and watched the two of them shoot jumpers and play H-O-R-S-E for the next hour, staying until 2 a.m., "like two kids in a candy store."
Jackson mispronounced Powe's name (quickly correcting himself and apologizing, it should be noted) in bringing up the fact that Powe shot more free throws (13) in his 14 minutes of playing time than the entire Lakers team attempted all game (10).
Jackson's mispronunciation was relayed later to Powe, who chuckled at it and said his teachers used to do the same thing. ("I let them get away with it," he said.) That would have been back when Powe was growing up in Oakland, becoming homeless, then going into foster care before losing his mother to heart disease and being looked after by Ward, who is now 40.
Powe played at Cal and was a star his freshman season, but injuries to both knees knocked him out of action for a season and helped contribute to his drop to 49th in the draft -- 28 spots after the Celtics got Rajon Rondo (who was a huge part of this victory, too, with 16 assists and just two turnovers.). Powe's points and minutes per game increased every month during the regular season, and he has shown flashes -- but not much consistency -- over the course of Boston's march through the first three postseason rounds.
"I thought the first six minutes of the game, we established no post game," Boston coach Doc Rivers sad. "We actually had to go to Leon to establish a post game."
The Lakers did not front him and ended up having to foul him, and Powe ended up having his coming-out night.
From here on out, it's highly unlikely anyone is going to underestimate the player Jackson referred to as "Pow."
"I'm not worried about people not pronouncing my name right. I ain't tripping off that," Powe said.
No, he was too busy trippin' on success, a kid from Oakland whose life of adversity and air of humility led him to the NBA's biggest stage, where he put on a show. And remember, as we're sure Phil Jackson will: Show rhymes with Powe.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.