At the beginning of the current NBA season, days after the South Beach nWo, also known as the Miami Heat, was formed, Kobe Bryant, the leader and top scorer of the two-time defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, said in response to their preseason championship rally "I'll see you in the Finals."
At the time, no one had any reason to doubt Bryant, especially since the Lakers had just overcome incredible odds to win their last championship (with a bit of an assist from the referees, as my brother and I, watching that game while packing to move, yelled at the screen, only in much more colorful terms).
Now I want the record to show that I am a card-carrying Commu...wait, sorry, reading from the wrong script. Ah! Here it is. Now, I want the record to show I am a card-carrying Laker-hater, and have been since 1998. My hatred was not attributable to jealousy—I was and still am a lifelong Chicago Bulls fan, and we had the greatest player ever.
Rather, my hatred was that the Lakers pretty much were always there, didn't win until they somehow managed to coax Phil Jackson into being their coach, and that Bryant, who I don't like very much, patterned his entire game after Jordan. EVERYONE who ever saw them both play sees that.
Now, all that said, I still have respect for the Lakers. Despite their overwhelming ability to want to be hated, they are a respectable foe. Or they were until Game 4 yesterday. Yesterday, I saw one of the cheapest, most classless moves an NBA player has ever made. And yes, this includes Artest's rap album. For those who haven't seen it, (and if you haven't, you either slept through the entire day and only woke up to read this article, or aren't an NBA fan) Andrew Bynum committed a flagrant foul when, making no attempt to go for the ball, he thuggishly drove his elbow into the sternum of Jose Juan Barea while Barea was in the air.
Andrew Bynum: 7'0, 285 pounds. JJ Barea: 6'0, 175 pounds. Despite what the WWE may try to pull with the Rey Mysterio thing, these are NOT great odds. As Bynum left the court to the roaring boos of the Mavericks crowd, Tyson Chandler, a man Bynum had been neutralized by in the majority of the series, had to be restrained by a teammate. If there was one funny thing in this at all, it was that Ron Artest, whose credentials as a champion agitator are unquestioned, was the man who walked Bynum out of the arena, calming him down.
The only thing this possibly compares to is the Pistons walking off the court without congratulating the Bulls who finally defeated them.Words failed me when I saw the video (I was playing MLB 2K8 so I didn't see the game live) and Bynum's attempts to justify what he had done.
Explain to me how you justify nearly injuring an opponent that is a foot shorter and 110 pounds lighter. Because you're losing? Are you joking? What I kept thinking of went back to Super Bowl XXVII, the year the Bills got mauled 52-17. Suppose Bruce Smith had caught Troy Aikman and gave him a spinebuster into the turf. Would he have justified it by saying "I was mad because I was losing?"NO! But the worst part of all is that there probably won't be any punishment at all for such a stupid act.
And it is stupid. It's not the first time Bynum has looked like a clown and a dirty player this season. Earlier Bynum attempted to bully Michael Beasley (also known as "The Guy I wanted the Bulls to take") and got absolutely nowhere. We should all be glad Barea was not injured, because imagine how much worse this would have gotten.
But somewhere in me, that old Bulls fan that went to sleep the day Elton Brand was the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, feels bad that this had to be the way Phil Jackson went out. The first sweep of his career as a head coach, and he goes out like this. To the stupidity of Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. Somewhere, Red Auerbach is laughing his rear off. I actually feel sad for him, and wish it had just been a straightforward four-game loss, instead of getting killed and a pair of morons playing playground basketball. Because despite my hatred for the Purple and Gold, I liked Phil, and always did.
Maybe one day this team will be worthy of respect again. Maybe Kobe will yell at Bynum, and remind him that stupidity like this is not what an NBA player does, and that he could have Bynum traded to the Wolves as punishment. But I don't believe it'll ever happen. Any of it. And it also means Kobe won't be seeing the nWo in the finals, unless he buys a ticket.