The 2010-11 Lakers: A Fall From Grace

by Bert Beiswanger

The Lakers' Andrew Bynum epitomizes his team's pathetic performance in Game 4 Sunday.

The heart of a champion? Save that phrase for another team. The defending champions? Who knew?

Down 3-0 to the Dallas Mavericks in their second round series of the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers showed the heart of the Tin Man Sunday (pre-Emerald City, of course) as the two-time defending NBA Champions got swept in one of the most disgraceful, gutless performances by a defending champion I can think of.

I didn’t think we were going to see a Boston Red Sox-type of comeback in this series. This team had too many issues and stumbled badly down the stretch. But I certainly didn’t expect to see what I saw in Game 4.

I expected the Lakers to go down fighting. I expected to see composed urgency, the kind you see from an experienced, prideful championship team. This game was doomed from the start. And it got worse.

This wasn’t Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers. He has the heart of a champion, and his heart was full of pain after watching his storied franchise walk through a humiliating performance full of cheap-shots and missed assignments.

Long into the Game 4 meltdown, Los Angeles Lakers big man Andrew Bynum hammered diminutive Dallas guard Jose Barea with an inexcusable and downright dangerous WWE-like forearm shiver that put an exclamation mark on an already embarrassing situation. Bynum wasn’t done. Following the ensuing ejection, Bynum exited the court only after removing his jersey just so he could make sure we got glimpse of what a man he is.

Television commentator Hubie Brown described it best during the telecast when he said, “I don’t understand why this is happening. When you say Los Angeles Lakers, you’re talking about excellence. You’re talking about titles. You’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever play. And for this game to end in this manner is a disgrace.”

For his work, the NBA league office announced Tuesday that Bynum will be suspended without pay for the first five games of the regular season next year and fined and additional $25,000.

For his team’s work, the Lakers earned a disgraceful exit from the playoffs. What a way to defend a championship. What a away to represent a great, great franchise. What a way to send one of the game’s all-time great coaches, Phil Jackson, into retirement. You think he has doubts about leaving this mess?

By comparison, the defending NHL Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks were down 3-0 in their best-of-seven series to the best team in the regular season, Vancouver. How did those defending champs respond? They won Game 4 by pounding the Canucks 7-2. They followed that up by dominating Vancouver in Game 5 and winning in overtime in Game 6, before losing in overtime in Game 7.

How did the Detroit Red Wings, one of the most historic franchises in the NHL, respond to being down 3-0 in their series against the San Jose Sharks? They came back from a third period deficit in Game 6 Tuesday night to force a Game 7.

That’s how prideful champions respond. Not the Lakers, they quit. They raised the white flag before they hit the floor Sunday.

Fall from grace? It was more like a thud. Not even the “Zen Master” Phil Jackson could do what the great Oz could do and give his team a heart, courage and a brain. All of those elements were missing in Game 4.

One thought on “The 2010-11 Lakers: A Fall From Grace

  1. chuck stake

    Wait a minute, i’m not sure you quite understand just how it is that the nba operates. Basically, it exists to make carnival games look legitimate. (And, yes, i believe that ref who was jailed about fixed outcomes and predetermined winners.)

    anyway, let’s get to the point about the lakers. basically the lakers were the defending champions because:

    a. kevin garnett was not allowed to defend gasol. gasol was put in a bubble so to speak and every time he was touched he shot free throws. on the other end of the floor gasol was allowed to manhandle his man. thus grew the legend of the new tougher gasol.

    b. after ray allen plain lit derek fisher up in the first couple of games, fisher was allowed to just plain mug allen like a refugee from the wwe.

    c. with the celtics holding a lead going into the 4th quarter of game 7, i told my wife now watch what happens. there will be a lot of early calls on boston, the lakers will shoot free throw virtually the whole quarter meaning when the lakers didn’t make a basket they would be given an opportunity to score from the free throw line. voila just as i predicted.

    The Lakers shot 37 free throws to the Celtics’ 17 in Game 7, and the disparity gets even worse when you look at the fourth quarter numbers. LA shot 21 free throws in the fourth, while Boston attempted just 6.

    so what happened? why was a secret vote cast against the lakers in the office suites of the nba this year? perhaps david stern awoke from his coma to see that his poster boys included a rapist and a total wackjob. who knows.

    what i do know is that dirk was allowed to play defense against gasol, who, in turn, was not allowed to throw his weight around and became the pussy he always has been again. fisher was not allowed to play “defense” as he had last year. artest was actually suspended for doing what he normally does. kobe’s volume scoring wasn’t enough and the help from the men with the whistles didn’t materialize.

    just another day in the life of the nba. and not an isolated incident.

    and you can throw action jackson out with the rest of the garbage


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