Monday, May 9, 2011

LOSE LIKE A CHAMPION:  Part of why I recoiled from Joe Buck's "That is a disgusting act" lambasting of Randy Moss's moon shot is that such language properly should be reserved for the truly reprehensible, and not the merely cheeky. Which of course is to allow me to say that I cannot remember a more classless, unsportsmanlike, reprehensible set of actions in a sports event quite like the fourth quarters of the Mavericks-Lakers game yesterday, in which Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum committed fouls so flagrant that next year's suspensions (on whatever franchises they join next) will not likely be severe enough. Moreover, Isiah Thomas is now off the hook for most classless exit.

That's the easy part; any hack sportswriter could have told you that. The hard part is that this also ought to taint their coach's legacy as well. It's Phil Jackson's job to instruct his players to maintain their sportsmanship even in the face of another elimination road game severe ass-kicking, and to remove from the court those players who can't comply. If his orders were that Santiago not be touched, then he shouldn't have been in any danger at all; especially after the Odom ejection, it was Jackson's responsibility to figure out who could, and could not complete the game properly. His failure to do so should be remembered along with the thirteen NBA championships which he will carry with him into this retirement, and it would not be wrong for the NBA to fine him as well, and levy a suspension upon his inevitable return to the hardwood.

Just as bad, of course, we're stuck with Mark Cuban's punim for at least one more round.


  1. Agree was a failure of leadership.

  2. Heather K10:52 AM

    I went from avid NBA fan to sometime watcher in the late 90s and stopped watching altogether a few years after that, but those clips are shocking! I cannot believe Phil Jackson let those both happen, and I would expect penalties for him as well.

  3. Matt B11:14 AM

    Granted I am not a huge follower of the LA Lakers, but do you think that any single athlete has ever ruined as much good will in a single episode as Andrew Bynum did last night? Just coming a few weeks off of a very glowing and sympathetic profile in Sports Illustrated which revealed that Bynum is basically a giant nerd that likes to build his own personal computers, and has been a bit hurt by all the unfair criticism that's come his way over the years ... to this.

  4. Alan Sepinwall11:28 AM

    If you're anti-Miami like I am, you might want Cuban's mug to stick around longer, as the Mavs seem to be the remaining playoff team best able to derail a Heat championship. They are a bad, bad matchup for LeBron and company.

  5. Odom's play was very rough, flagrant, etc.,  but did not shock-the-conscience, or at least this conscience.  Bynum's hit, on the other hand . . . Wow.  Just stupid and cruel.  And I agree that a penalty on the coach, even if he was not complicit, is the message the NBA needs to send in order to obtain general deterrence:  coaches have to be on notice that they will be accountable when things get out of hand.  Embarrassing for a supposedly "marquis" franchise.

  6. Plus there will be actual venom dripping from the ceiling in Dallas if those two meet up after 2006.  Potentially very fun.

  7. tortoiseshelly12:13 PM

    Though I love the Mavs, I think I would say this even if I didn't: Dallas handled that whole series with a lot of class and grace. They didn't get bogged down in the drama and used all the crap to fuel their desire to win. Every interview I caught (which isn't to say I watched them all) showed them to be competitive, yet humble. And Cuban kept his yapper shut for the most part. Thank God.

    As for Jackson's legacy? I'm on the fence. I don't know that he didn't warn the players, especially in light of the Game 2 foul on Barea by Artest. On the other hand, it wouldn't exactly have been difficult to predict Bynum's thuggishness, given that he did the same thing to Michael Beasley just two months ago, and sent Gerald Wallace to the hospital for a fractured rib and collapsed lung with a similar foul a couple of years ago. Personally, I'd suspend (or even ban) Bynum for a helluva lot longer than most people, given that he obviously knows how dangerous that particular hit is and throws it anyway. Obviously, players consent to some hard contact/fouls, but Bynum crossed that line a while back.

  8. <span>do you think that any single athlete has ever ruined as much good will in a single episode as Andrew Bynum did last night?</span>

    O.J. Simpson?

  9. I was actually coming to the comments to ask just this question.  As a sports know-nothing, while both seemed bad, Bynum's seemed much worst than Odom's.  I didn't know whether it was just that we had a better angle on Bynum than on Odom or whether people who knew sports would also see a difference. 

    Relatedly:  I was at one of the Capitals/Rangers playoff games a few weeks ago, and this kind of behavior was rampant.  I assume that hockey, with its legacy of fist-fights etc., just has different norms?

  10. isaac_spaceman12:42 PM

    Hey, stupids:  The NBA doesn't exist any more. 

  11. Benner1:05 PM

    In hockey, if someone threw an elbow (or stick) at a player in a blindsie position while in the act the way Bynum did, they would have to look up the U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines to assess the total volume of penalty minutes.  It would at least prevent the end of the world from happening later in May. 

    I think Cuban will get to the finals.  Ironically, if it's against the Heat, the NBA might actually tell the refs to let his team win.

  12. BetsyRand1:50 PM

    As a native Dallasite, I've never been so thrilled and appalled at the same time.

    While almost synonymous with choking in the past (even last series against Portland), I couldn't be prouder of the Mavericks and they way they held themselves together. No gloating (at least not apparent), no running up the score (yes, it looked large, but see choking reference above - we've blown leads that big to lose), and an almost silent owner (who has been fined more times for opening his mouth than we dare to count).

    On the other hand the Lakers, whom I've NEVER liked as a team but always respected, were pulling school yard cheap shots on people half their size (Barea looked like a school kid compared to Bynum). The talk of what might be going on in the locker room, their coach retiring, whatever the excuse - I am taken aback that what happened happened. The saddest part of it all is that Bynum will be back (whether after 1 or 15 games and/or an amount of money large enough to put one through college) and I'm doubtful that anything will change.

    Sir Barkley was right, it's wrong to expect them to be role models, but can they at least be adults?

  13. Benner3:05 PM

    Or it was just Phil being way zen.

  14. alex s.5:16 PM

    Odom's foul was as dumb and unnecessary as it was uncharactaristic.  But it was a body check and it had almost no chance to create an injury.  That one didn't look as bad on replay.

    Bynum's foul was awful and lazy.  And looks almost exactly what he's done in the past, which simultaneously makes those incidents look worse as well.

    While those incidents were ugly, I have to think the people saying it was the worst they had ever seen were managing to forget an awful lot of basketball.  Detroit's teams were called "bad boys" for a reason.

    I don't see how you can fine coaches for split-second decisions players make in the heat of the moment.  Was Jackson supposed to call a time-out and tell his team they should quit trying?  I'm sure there would be a fine for that.  (It would be especially unusual since the league just fined Jackson $35k that morning for saying the refs should be calling more physical fouls (against Dallas, but still)).  (On an  slightly related note, I'm really, really looking forward to the first honest interview Jackson grants where he can talk about David Stern without fear of a six-figure fine.)

  15. He was supposed to tell his players to not commit flagrant fouls out of frustration, and to maintain their dignity.

  16. Adam C.5:35 PM

    On two different occasions!  (Or three, if you count his stint in the Monday Night Football booth.)

  17. Jenn.5:40 PM

    Is the other reason that you recoiled from Joe Buck's statement because he is Joe Buck?  I generally find that to be sufficient justification for a good, solid recoiling.

  18. The Pathetic Earthling5:47 PM

    I don't recoil from Joe Buck so much as drip with contempt for the man.  I am not a particularly knowledgeable sports fan, even with respect to my own teams.  Given that, I have a pretty low threshold for teachability, but I have yet to ever be given a single insight from the man.  And that's notwithstanding the fact that he never, ever stops talking.

  19. Joseph J. Finn8:09 PM

    Why yes, I am looking forward to a possible Bulls-Mavericks final.

  20. Derrick10:09 PM

    Finally some reason here.  It's as if no one has ever seen McHale clothesline Rambis or any of the other ridiculous incidents in not just NBA but sports history.  What Bynum did was ugly, but the hyperbole is getting a little overboard.  It doesn't help the optics that Bynum is 7'0 giant and JJ is about 5'2 but making him sport's greatest villain lacks perspective.

  21. Someone needs to make one of the Motivators posters that says "Nepotism," with a big photo of Joe Buck.

  22. Mr. Cosmo11:33 PM

    As someone who cried when Jack Buck died, I find it easiest to simply pretend that Joe Buck does not exist.  Kind of like Rocky V.