In the span of 54 seconds, the Los Angeles Lakers season went from "disappointing" to "embarrassing". With 9:06 left in their season, Lamar Odom bull-rushed Dirk Nowitzki, lowered the shoulder, and tried to deliver a hit like a free safety on a wide receiver on a crossing pattern. Then, less than a minute later, Andrew Bynum did what you see in that video. Launching himself at a prone, airborne JJ Barea and with a clear intent to injure, Bynum embarrassed himself, and a proud franchise, on a national stage.
The Lakers went into their series with all the confidence you'd expect. They had survived an early challenge by the New Orleans Hornets, but returned to what looked like a championship-caliber form heading into the semifinals. But they had no answers for the Mavericks. They couldn't get late stops, and they couldn't find Dallas' three-point shooters. The Mavs were just better. No one knew they were that much better right now, but they clearly were.
And I understand that its embarrassing losing by 40 in the closeout game of a sweep. But my only answer to that is... play better. Try not losing by 40 instead of taking cheap shots at the other team and storming off the court in a huff. Of course, Bynum doesn't get that.
"No, I'm not disappointed in myself," he said. "We got embarrassed, so that's what happened."
..."A little bit frustrated, and they kept making layups," Bynum said, searching for an excuse for his inexcusable behavior. "I think it was more we were getting embarrassed. They were breaking us down. So I just fouled somebody."
No, Andrew, you didn't just foul somebody. This wasn't some hard playoff foul to send a message that the lane was closed for the night. This was an intent to injure. And I'm surprised Bynum doesn't know the difference since he's done it to Gerald Wallace and Michael Beasley in the past as well.
Bynum has a dirty history of taking his frustrations out on guys who are at their most vulnerable on the way to the rim. It's sad that he doesn't get that its dirty. It's sad that he hasn't gotten the message from the franchise that its dirty. And its sad that a player who can be as good as he was to end the regular season would have to resort to that kind of play. In the end, he is what he is. Andrew Bynum is a punk and a dirty player.
Don't think that goes unnoticed. The more he does it, the harsher the fines and suspensions will get. Each time he lays someone out, the league will lay him out with a longer vacation and harder shot to his wallet. The Lakers are now in a position where Bynum can be viewed as a problem. A player whose attitude can outweigh his talent. At a time where difficult decisions have to be made about this franchise's future, Bynum is now the talented yet inconsistent, injury-prone and mentally questionable young center. It may be the final straw for him in LA... but is it also enough to diminish whatever trade value he may have?
The Lakers have some soul searching to do. They have embarrassed themselves and sullied the franchise's name. The Lakers are perennial winners in the NBA. But they went out like losers last night.