By Dennis J. Freeman
The switch button the Los Angeles Lakers were looking for to catapult them to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals has officially been turned off by the Dallas Mavericks. Worse, the Lakers, who won the last two NBA championships, lost their semifinal matchup with the Mavericks like a bunch of classless chumps.
Instead of losing like champions, the Lakers pouted, lost their cool and decided to become WWE takedown artists after they got their rear ends kicked in four games. Instead of going down in defeat with class, the Lakers went down the low road as a group of sore losers, taking cheap shots and inflicting unsportsmanlike play.
Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum followed Ron Artest in the dumb-dumb department by losing their cool and taking out their frustration of getting straight-out embarrassed by mugging Dallas players with uncalled for assaults.
It’s surprising at how tasteless the Lakers went out in the second round of the NBA tournament considering the fact that the team has a reputation of being one the finest run organizations in the league with excellence and dignity as its calling card. Artest clothes lining Dallas guard Jose Juan Barea in Game 3 of the Western Conference series was simply bush league.
Odom and Bynum decided to follow up Artest’s head-scratching act with even more wacked out motives. Both players were ejected late in Game 4 after Dallas had already secured the game and series. Odom’s forearm shiver to Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki and Bynum’s elbow to Barea’s ribcage as the Dallas guard was in midair, showed what the Lakers are not about.
The Lakers are also not about guys ripping off their jerseys, showing off their pecs and daring opposing fans to do something as you are headed to the locker room after being ejected. The Lakers have always been a model organization, from player to support staff and all the way up management level.
The “in the heat of the moment” argument is no excuse for ignorance and trying to put opposing players in harm’s way, just because you decided to act like a spoiled brat.
What this shows is the unyielding arrogance that crept up in the Lakers’ psyche because those acts of violence demonstrated the team’s unwillingness to accept they are not as good as they were in the past. How many times have the Lakers put opponents under their shoes on their way to NBA dominance the last five decades? Plenty.
How many times have we seen those same opponents to go out their way to clean a player’s clock on a Lakers team when the deficit was roughly 36 points and the game nearing its end? I can’t recall any. Now Kobe Bryant and Coach Phil Jackson and the rest of the Lakers have to see their reputations smeared by a couple of thuggish-like plays.
Look, the reason why the Lakers lost the series is because Dallas was the better team-top to bottom. You don’t beat another team 4-0 without being significantly better than your opponent. There will be no back-to-back-to-back parade ceremonies this year.
Thankfully, there will be no more “Animal Kingdom” moments this year that will further embarrass a ballclub that stakes its reputation at always doing the right thing and being a pillar of exemplary behavior.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about social justice, civil rights, education, politics, and crime. He also covers the NFL, NBA, MLB as well as other sports. Based in Southern California, Dennis earned a journalism degree with a minor in criminal justice from Howard University. The real HU!!