Last night I watched a good part of the Los Angeles Lakers' 99-91 overtime win against the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals.
Within minutes of the final buzzer, one of my close friends called to talk about the game.
Now to understand the mindset that he brought to the conversation, you've got to know that Cesar is a die-hard Laker fan.
One year as we were traveling in Mexico, he somehow found a family in a poor dusty village in Mexico that had cable and was able to watch Kobe and Shaq win one of their three championships together.
He lives and dies Lakers. So he was pretty upset when I said I was sick of this team.
Now those are strong words for a guy like me. I grew up with the Lakers. I cried year after year as the Celtics stuck daggers in our hearts, celebrated 33 wins, was in the arena when Magic dished off to Kareem to break Wilt's scoring record, and loved Showtime.
In sports parlance, I bleed Laker purple and gold. But not for this team.
Because they are bad sports—and it was all personified by one instance at the end of the overtime period. With the game effectively over, Laker Pau Gasol went up for a dunk and was fouled from behind by Mickael Pietrus.
Now I know this looked like a horrible foul to most, and the refs called it a flagrant violation. But Gasol was left standing.
This was little more than a playground cheap shot—certainly nowhere near as bad as the hurt former Celtic Kevin McHale or Bill Laimbeer of the Pistons used to regularly put on the Lakers and others.
My struggle comes from the response. With the game won, and the Magic's heart broken on their home court, Gasol went after Pietrus and earned a technical—essentially for bad sportsmanship.
This is my problem with these Lakers. For all the talent, ability, and their imminent championship, these guys are poor sports—and nothing disappoints me more in sports than poor winners.
It has been said that you can see the real character of a team displayed in how they respond to losing and adversity.
I think we saw this Laker team's character last night when they won.
This is a good team. They will be NBA Champions this year. I just don't like them.
They are poor sports and lousy winners.