Thursday, May 5, 2011
Death of A Dynasty?
One of the knocks on the NBA from the pro basketball haters (of which there are many, just check out the most popular post here at the time of this writing) is that the same teams win the championship every year. As much as i like to argue in favor of America's 5th favorite sport (that's right, behind NASCAR) this one has validity. A 3 year old could tell you the Purple, Green, or silver and black teams have a good shot as long as they weren't color blind. Just take a look at this past decade: 8 titles for the Lakers and Spurs, and one each for the Celtics, Pistons and Heat. Well, the majority of those teams (Lakers, Spurs and Celtics) might want to make room for the new "same old teams" as they become just old.
The Spurs have already been exposed by a younger, athletic team, barely winning two postseason games after a great regular season, the Celtics are on the verge of losing to the hated, more explosive Heat (even if they're in a much better situation than the other two teams), and after last night's ugly fest at Staples, the Lakers are (to put it politely), in deep shit. They are the two time defending champs, so you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, and believe they'll some how make a series of this, even if they're going to be playing in front of thousands of rabid cowboys over the weekend. They've proven they're an excellent road team in the playoffs and the core of the team has been through some near disasters before, but it is definitely looking bleak for a 4th 3 peat for Phil Jackson.
Most people figured the Lakers would come out with a renewed sense of urgency and determination after New York Metsing the first game away, but last night saw more of the same. Nowitzki hit impossible shots all night, Pau Gasol looked lost against Tyson Chandler, and a 4 foot Puerto Rican ran all over the staples center like a cockroach in a kitchen. The only sign of life from the Lakers came when Artest nearly took the roach's face off in the final seconds (he better hope that doesn't mean a suspension). As many people have pointed out recently, including Steve Kerr during last night's broadcast, this is a Lakers squad that has been to 3 straight finals and is gunning for their 4th, something that hasn't been done since the Bird Celtics. Even the most mentally and physically tough team would struggle to keep the level of intensity needed to do that. The way the Lakers have sleep walked through the season, you kinda had to see this coming, though. Kobe's will and determination is usually seen as his best attribute, and the personality of a team's best player tends to rub off on the rest of the team. But Kobe and Phil have also perfected the arrogant, what me worry?, every team is beneath us attitude, which can be an asset at keeping teams calm under pressure but it may have come back to bite them here. They can get by with the hubris act against the depleted Hornets, but Dallas is an actual NBA playoff team.
There's still hope in L.A., 3 teams have come back to win series after losing their first two games at home, most recently the Hakeem Rockets in 95 (who went on to win it all after half-assing an entire season) but they were more an exception to the rule. It's near impossible to win a series after blowing your first two games at home. Lakers fans could take solace in the fact that their opponent is notorious for choking away playoff series, but this may be the end of the line for the Kobe-Phil Lakers as Jackson is serious about retiring this year. The NBA's Old guard has lost one of the three big teams thus far this playoffs, and the other two seem ready to fall. At least no one can say you know who's going to win it all this year.