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NBA Playoffs: You can’t tarnish the Lakers’ franchise legacy, but their team sure tried

May 8, 2011, 10:11 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Four Getty Images

So this is how it ends. What felt like an inevitable run to the second three-peat for Kobe Bryant, the fourth three-peat for Phil Jackson, and yet another championship for the Los Angeles Lakers, ended in nothing but misery and classlessness in Dallas, Texas. A Hall of Fame coach most known for his motivational tactics witnesses his team outright quit, then conduct themselves in a reprehensible manner, down 30.

Observe, first Lamar Odom, after getting words from Dirk Nowitzki after missing front iron on free throws. Yes, free throws.

This from a veteran, the guy who when plugged in is the difference between a Lakers win and a loss more often than not. It wasn’t the worst foul, it was just so blatantly intentional. Odom was ineffective, along with the entirety of the Lakers. But to respond with such a petty approach as he is being swept out? It’s not even outrageous. It’s just sad.

Not as sad as Andrew Bynum, though.

Classless? Check. Unnecessary? Check. Predictable? You betcha. This is Andrew Bynum, who put Gerald Wallace in the hospital, and cracked Michael Beasley on a similar play this season. He was excused for it being an accident both times, but this just reaffirms the fact that Bynum’s still emotionally volatile to the point of recklessness. It’s a shame because if there was one Laker who actually played with intensity and execution, it’s Andrew Bynum. But Bynum won’t be displaying those skills for several games next season as he’ll be serving a very well-deserved suspension.

So what was more disgusting? A champion going down in such an effortless failure or the players responding to said adversity by committing petty fouls and drawing ejections? The winner is no one.

But the lack of effort should be noted as well. Instead of fighting to the bitter end and making a simple adjustment: defending the three and forcing the Mavericks to beat them inside, the Lakers stood by and watched as Jason Terry nailed three after three after three. Derek Fisher occasionally strolled by to try and “run him off” but on several possessions, no one was there.

This is the franchise of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of Robert Horry, the .04 shot, the Shaq alley-oop, and the past two championships. And instead the Zen Master watched as his troops failed to commit, then committed an epic display of petulance to send him off. Nothing can tarnish the legacy of the Lakers, arguably the greatest franchise in the NBA, in all of sports.

But man, did they try hard in Game 4.

  1. delius1967 - May 9, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    Bynum should be suspended for a mininum of 20 games for his hit on Barea. This isn’t just about that particular hit; you have to consider the context:

    – The game was not in contention at the time, so “heat of the moment” is not an excuse.
    – Less than one minute before, he had just witnessed his teammate be ejected for a cheap shot.
    – Just two days before, yet another teammate had been ejected for a hit on the same player.
    – Barea is a foot shorter and 100+ lbs. smaller than he is.
    – Barea was in the air and in a vulnerable position (and was obviously not expecting such a hit).
    – Bynum has done this multiple times in the past.

    Given that the suspension will come at the start of the season, a couple of games isn’t going to have any sort of effect. It has to be a serious hit for the team and for him.

  2. berbes - May 9, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    to do something so ghetto, i’m thinking bynum musta had an allergic reaction to his STD meds…? if not, then maybe he’ll wifeswap with odom’s ugly kardashian in the offseason.

    la lakers = POS

  3. fouldwimmerlaik - May 9, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    It is all part of Phil and Kobe’s master plan. They knew it would be a tough transition year with Phil leaving, so they purposefully threw this series in order to make it easier for Phil to leave AND to set up yet another Championship next year by making everyone think they are done.

  4. wrubin3 - May 9, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    These cowardly fouls by the Lakers’ Artest, Odom and Bynum are detestable. Especially the two fouls against the tiny Dallas guard. And even more disgusting was the way Bynum whipped off his shirt and strode half naked away from the crime scene. These acts must be severely punished by the commissioner. WR Yonkers

  5. neeciekay - May 9, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Congrats to Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for being the only team members that actually tried!! Too bad Bynum, Artest, and Odom made all those rings look like they were given and not earned. . .Oh, well, out with the old and in with the new!!

  6. piperbill - May 9, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    Beyond classlessness, Artest’s fouling Barea in game 3 and Bynum’s fouling Barea in game 4 says a lot about their backbones … or lack thereof.
    Bynum was obviously not inclined to go after Chandler or Haywood and risk a proper butt-kicking. Artest’s lack of cohones when evenly matched was aptly demonstrated in The Malice in the Palace in Nov ’04 when he backed down from Ben Wallace after hard fouling him from behind.
    Nothing like showing your true colors – YELLOW – on national TV.

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