Dreadful. Humiliating. Embarrassing.
Those are the first three words of a “Rated G” variety that comes to mind after watching the Dallas Mavericks sweep the FORMER, two-time NBA Champion Lakers into rebuilding mode.
All the other words spilling from my mouth would have made George Carlin proud.
- The Dreadful
Let’s start with the poor defensive rotation. I’ve heard Stu Lantz say numerous times that “no player can travel faster than the ball.” Well, the Mavs were passing the ball around like they were playing a game of hot potato, while the old and slow moving Laker defense just couldn’t keep up. It appeared no matter where the Laker defenders set their feet defensively, their feet found a way to end up in buckets of cement.
I could understand giving up an open three every now and then, but to see Jason Terry spot up numerous times and take an open shot without a Laker within a country mile was frustratingly painful to watch.
The Mavs were on fire from beyond the arc and the Lakers had no answers. To see this team make it to three consecutive finals, win the last two and not have any answers for defending the pick and roll or the three point shot is going to leave many Laker fans wondering WTF happened.
- The Humiliating
After Jason Terry hit his, I don’t know, 37th 3 in a row, the Lakers, at least some of them, quit. Some Lakers who never “been there before” wilted under the pressure. Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, the two Laker signings that fans were most excited over, never made their mark on the team or provided the level of play the Lakers front office was expecting.
Ultimately, with Jason Terry’s record tying performance and the Mavs on the whole going 20 of 32 from beyond the arc, the Lakers were not merely eliminated, they were pulverized by the Mavs in a 36 point rout.
Sadly, the game was over at halftime. It turned out that Friday night was in fact, “Kobe’s Last Stand”, as the Lakers acquiesced to their fate and dialed up Nick Van Exel in search of the best travel deals to Cancun.
- The Embarrassing
Bynum and Odom. Let’s get Lamar out of the way. His hockey check on Dirk Nowitzki was out of line, and if this was a regular season game or a run of the mill competitive playoff game, the refs probably wouldn’t have ejected him. But given the score, given that LO hit Dirk and given that it was a forearm to the ribs as opposed to something that may have occurred accidently during the course of a play, the zebras had little choice.
Now let’s talk about Bynum. There were things that I liked from #17 during games 2 and 3. He played with intensity. He was aggressive. He was demonstrative on the court. For one of the few times ever it seemed like he gave a damn and he wanted some responsibility for how well the team performs. He elevated his game high enough to compete with Pau as the preferred second option.
And he threw it all away with a cheap shot. And it was not only cheap, it was against the littlest player in the series, JJ Barea. All 6’0″, 175 lbs of him was knocked to the floor when he drove to the basket, leaped for a layup and was unceremoniously knocked to the floor when his ribs met Andrew Bynum’s skillfully placed forearm.
Quick tale of the tape: We’ve already established Barea as 6’0″ ft tall and 175 lbs (after a full meal). Andrew Bynum has 13 inches and 110 lbs on him. Between Barea’s ribs and Bynum forearm, who do you think won the matchup? Right, Bynum’s forearm and he was immediately ejected.
And then he took of his jersey as he left the court.
There are several things that bothered me about this.
First, it reminded me of Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest circa 2004. No further explanation required.
Second, it proves to me that he quit. He couldn’t get off the floor fast enough. I think there was a bar of soap waiting for him at the tunnel. He must of had a full lather on by the time he reached the locker room.
If you are going to do something like that go all the way. Get in someone’s grill. It just proves that there was no purpose, nothing strategic about his foul. If you do that, be a freakin’ man about it. Don’t sprint off the court as if you are going to meet Rhianna after the game for a night cap.
Lastly, it was classless. When #$%& doesn’t go his way, when things do not turn out the way he wants to, he can’t control his emotions. Sure, he is only 23, but he’s been in the league for SIX, yes SIX years now. There is no need to act like a little bitch in front of everyone.
Win with class, lose with dignity. Apparently this fool can’t do either.
As a Laker fan I was embarrassed to see the team lose the crown with two of its pivotal players getting ejected for flagrant fouls. I was also angry that Kobe and Fisher didn’t immediately step in and tell Bynum that his hit wasn’t called for.
By this time the Lakers gave up. They tapped out. Nothing from the bench, nothing from the co-captains, nothing from Phil as he was already on his way to Montana.
- What’s Next?
Phil is gone. It’s been a great run, but the run with this team is over. Now the Lakers have to hope that there are teams in the league that are willing to help them rebuild. He will go down as the G.O.A.T. and it is a shame that his career had to end in such a blowout. His career will not be remembered for the result of this one game, but the 11 teams that he coached to championships, his unique way to motivate his players and manage large egos to fit into his system and his keen ability to find himself at the right place at the right time.
There are reports that Brian Shaw is the favorite to take over for PJ next year. That may be true, but I have a feeling that after the way this season ended, that it is possible that the Lakers may look to go in an entirely different direction to try and inject some new life, new blood and new philosophies into the Laker style of play.
Will Lamar, Bynum and Pau be back? These three guys are the only tradable assets the Lakers own. I think the Lakers SHOULD trade Bynum. One more misstep and his trade value becomes nil. Why run the risk? This is a guard driven league and the Lakers need to acquire someone who is dynamic with the ball at the point.
Teams will always be interested in Lamar’s versatility, but not his aloof nature. There are teams out there who would love to have LO as an asset on the bench and with him winning the 6th man of the year award the Lakers may get ninety cents on the dollar for him.
And as for Pau,…he’s a mystery. Are his skills diminishing? Will he ever be the 2008-2010 Pau or is this as good as it is going to get? I’d rather trade someone too early than too late, so if there are viable offers out there the Lakers have to consider unloading him.
It is likely that the next few years will be rough for Laker fans as we watch other franchises pick up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. As long as Dr. Buss is running the ship, we should feel confident and hopeful that our team will be back sooner than later.
About the Author
Written by Donovan Williams
32 year-old sports fan who has the audacity to think that he could be good at this sports writing thing. I'll be honest. I'll be snarky. I'll be sarcastic. Maybe not in that order. It is my goal to ensure that my opinions will generate a response from you, dear reader. Good, bad or indifferent, I welcome your replies.