From Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: For the past three or four years, the Kobe-LeBron debate has been at the forefront of NBA discussions as players, coaches, experts, fans and media members have all shared their opinions on which player they thought was better. James has owned Bryant in their head-to-head regular season match-ups, whereas the Black Mamba has won the proverbial games that matter, helping the Los Angeles Lakers earn the last two NBA titles. These players have never once competed against each other in the playoffs and yet will be linked with one another for the rest of their careers. Tupac Shakur’s Hit ‘Em Up will always be mentioned with Biggie’s Who Shot Ya, much like Jay-Z’s Takeover will always be in the same conversation as Nas’s Ether. We might just have a new addition to the list that involves how we perceive and remember LeBron James and Kobe Bryant: The Decision…
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: Every once in a while, the circumstances and events of life require us all to take a good hard look in the mirror and analyze an aspect of our being that isn’t necessarily what we want it to be. Sometimes, if we’re honest, we don’t particularly like what we see. This is one of those times. Ladies and gentlemen, fine patrons of Silver Screen and Roll, we need to be honest with ourselves about something … Andrew Bynum has a bit of a mean streak. Drew doesn’t exactly qualify to be a head of state in the Axis of Evil or anything, but our young big man has a growing list of incidents in which his participation was neither innocent nor benign. Friday’s flagrant foul on Michael Beasley was the latest, and most egregiously blatant, incident, but we’ve seen similar plays out of Bynum in the past.
From C.A. Clark, SBNation: Last week, GQ released a list of the worst fans in sports. Clocking in at No. 15 were the fans of the Los Angeles Lakers, the only NBA team to make the list. Whereas all the other teams listed achieved their villainy through a combination of rowdiness and excessive vitriol, Lakers fans are apparently guilty of the exact opposite: they aren’t devoted enough to the cause. GQ calls the Lakers’ fanbase the fairest of fair weather fans, citing two separate instances (after the retirement of Magic Johnson, and again after the trade of Shaquille O’Neal) in which Laker Nation suddenly shrank, only to grow again a few years later once the Lakers managed to rebuild. Also referenced was the environment of your average Lakers game, in which a fair number of the “fans” close to the court are more interested in their phones and the people sitting courtside than in the game itself.
From Janis Carr, OC Register: By now, the Lakers (and fans) are used to Derek Fisher’s late-game heroics, whether it be a key pass or game-winning shot with mere seconds remaining. Maybe they are too used to it. Kobe Bryant said Fisher has been playing like that since the two of them entered the league in 1996 and he has come to rely on the 36-year-old guard’s sense of order down the stretch. Bryant said he realized how much he leans on Fisher during those three seasons when Fisher played elsewhere. So you missed him? “What, instead of throwing it to Smush (Parker)? Yeah. I would shoot with three (men) on me. Now I shoot with one or two (players guarding him),” Bryant said after Monday’s practice.
From Broderick Turner, LA Times: The Lakers really can’t fully quantify the value of Lamar Odom. His coach, Phil Jackson, said Odom has been “invaluable” to the team. When Odom was a free agent, Jackson urged the organization to re-sign him. The Lakers and Odom agreed to a four-year, $33-million deal in July 2009. Otherwise, the Lakers might not be back-to-back champions and be talking seriously about winning a third straight NBA championship, Jackson said. “We made a decision as an organization two years ago to sign Lamar, which put us in a difficult [salary] cap situation,” Jackson said. “Yet we’re convinced that without him, we wouldn’t win a championship again. That was a good decision by the organization.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Displaying the same aggressiveness he uses when fighting through double teams and grabbing rebounds, Lakers center Andrew Bynum rushed past the assembled media Monday after the Lakers’ practice. That left everyone else on the team to explain how Bynum’s handled his two-game suspension for getting a flagrant foul, type 2, after throwing Minnesota forward Michael Beasley with his right forearm. The assessment sounded fairly mixed. “He was frustrated,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.
Craig W. says
No matter what we are talking about humans seem to be incapable of thinking in terms of grey. Everything is black or white, good or bad. With the Lakers this is reflected in Kobe, Andrew, and even Fish.
It is too bad we don’t deal with nuance very well, because life is nothing but nuance – there is very little black and white.
About Bynum: Was it dirty? Probably. Was he frustrated and taking it out on Beasley, who, judging by the reactions of Lamar and Ron while he was still on the ground, might have deserved a hard (not dirty) foul? Absolutely–he got hacked multiple times on the other end, then got called for an offensive foul.
And, while I still feel bad for the kid, I’m increasingly disliking Beasley. He had a tough start to his career: the suicide threat, the unfortunate tweet with the pipe (or was it a bong?), playing (poorly) on a crappy Miami team, and then getting traded to the NBA’s Siberia for spare parts.
I think hard fouls are message fouls, particularly in the playoffs, and one of the biggest flaws of the early 2000s Laker squads was not signing someone like Charles Oakley to rebound, defend and lay the wood on anyone venturing into the paint. It would have cut down on the ridiculous contact that Shaq had to play through every night. Granted, three straight titles is nothing to sneeze at, but the path could have been easier. You only need one guy to hit the floor to send the message for weeks to come, or longer: Ask Gerald Wallace if he’s ever going to try to dunk on Bynum again.
So on balance, it was dirty-ish, but understandable given the situation, in the same way that Kobe picks up offensive fouls on slightly out-of-control drives to the basket after he feels he was fouled on the previous trip.
I’m relieved Beasley wasn’t hurt seriously, and it sends a clear message to the rest of the league with the playoffs starting in less than a month: This “soft” team has a big guy in the middle that isn’t afraid of contact.
@#1, Craig. Amen! That’s one of my mantras in life. It amazes me how many people like to immediately categorize into an either/or situation. That simply isn’t true most of the time. Life is infinite shades of gray.
My only problem with Bynum’s foul was how the shoulder was lowered into Beasley’s chest while they were both in mid-air. It looked liked Bynum was auditioning for NFL’s biggest hits DVD.
If Bynum had gone up with both arms extended, bumped hard with the body and didn’t bring his arms down to pull down Beasley, I would have applauded the play. It would have sent the same message as a hard foul, protecting the paint and not so subtle complaint about the lack of calls on his end.
That’s the line I would draw when distinguishing between a dirty play and hard physical playoff basketball. I love Bynum but that was just a bad play on his part. He’s shown continued maturation on all aspects of his play. I will hope for the next step in his growth, he recognizes how to retain control in delivering a hard foul without crossing the line.
I just can’t condone an outright leveling of a guy without making any kind of play on the ball. Although Wallace was hurt more, I thought the Wallace play was less egregious than this one. Bynum looked liked he reacted too late in trying to foul Wallace to prevent the layup and send him to the line. It just so happened Wallace landed hard. Bynum was out of control not realizing his strength and how the play was developing, but the intent to hurt didn’t seem to be there.
With the Beasley play, Bynum looked like he went for the foul with full intent of delivering punishment and nothing else.
I’m a bad guy… Granted, but that was a great foul by Bynum. If you haven’t noticed people have been avoiding going to the basket against the Lakers when Andrew is on the floor. Players will drive to the paint and see “The Beast” and then turn around and dribble back out in PGs case or just pass it back out in the case of most swingmen. So besides the fact that Beasely was pissing off Drew’s teammates and deserved to be put on his ass… Andrew sent a message that Shaq did so many times in Staples Center, “Come to my paint and you will be sent back one way or the other.”
off topic, but Rudy Gay is most likely out for the year.
I feel dizzy… I agree with Aaron* here… *winks*
In short, Chownoir, are you saying you are fine with a dirty foul, just so long as you don’t get caught?
I kind of prefer Bynum’s, “I am going to hit you and I don’t give a fig who sees me do it” approach…
Big men really need to have a mean streak. All of the great ones do. At some point, on the court, your job is to be a bully.
*Actually, I usually agree with Aaron, except where Mr. Fisher is concerned, but even I must admit that Aaron is a poster of their word, and has refrained from saying negative things about Fisher since last year’s Finals.
Craig W. says
I still say Andrew is only 23, and a young 23 at that. Personally, I think he is sorry he went about the foul the way he did, however, he isn’t sorry he gave the foul. I think he is learning how to be aggressive and somewhat mean under the basket – and how to do it within the rules.
What I find interesting is Phil’s comment that he was both tired and frustrated. Very young players have to be watched for fatigue, not so much for the dropoff in their performance – although that does happen – but for the fatigue affecting their mental alertness. Phil, IMO, has been careful with Andrew’s minutes as much because of his fatigue as his performance. This has been a consistent pattern throughout the last several years. Because of this, I feel this suspension leaves some fault with Phil. Phil is the one who left him in when he was tired, just because it didn’t fit his substitution pattern. I don’t try to blame too much on Phil, but he does have some culpability.
I’m a huge Drew hater, but I still think the problem with Drew’s foul was that it was a playoff foul during a meaningless regular season game. Had this occurred during the playoffs, he may have gotten off with a 1 game ban or no ban at all.
That said, I’m glad he did this now and not during game 5 of a 7 games series that is tied. He’s young, impetuous, but he will learn. I like what he’s doing so far. I may not be his biggest fan, but the kid was changing my mind game-by-game. I hope he comes back refocused and motivated so I can keep learning to like the big lug.
@#7, 3ThreeIII, no that’s not what I said. I didn’t say anything about not being caught. Again, this is a shade of grey and distinction. There’s a difference in a hard foul to stop a layup and a play to lay a guy out.
A hard foul would have been if he went up with arms up to try and block the ball and at the same time use his body to bang him hard. Same as being in low post and banging bodies.
A dirty play is if he went up with arms up and then pulls Beasley down hard to the floor or the actual play where Bynum just cross checks Beasley.
To me there is no room in the game for that. I grew up with 80’s basketball and am okay with guys throwing their bodies and weight around. But I’m not okay with wildly swinging elbows or taking guys out in mid air like the McHale clothesline..
Some people might not see the distinction between the two and classify it all as dirty play. But it is a distinction to me and the difference between a good hard physical play and a dirty play.
Bynum can be a bully by using his body to bang people off the block and blocking shots. Good big men do that. Dirty bad big men commit fouls where they hardly go for the ball and more likely to injure someone. Both may intimidate and protect the paint but I don’t condone the latter regardless of what color uniform they wear.
Chris J says
CA Clark gets the weak sauce award today, basing his Dirty Drew column entirely on a total of two overly hard fouls (on Beasley and Gerald Wallace) spanning a six-year career.
To write a sentence that states, “That’s the only other incident I can remember off the top of my head, but I vaguely recall at least two other occasions…” while forming a supposed argument is just lame.
The best way to judge whether that was a good or bad play, in terms of what it meant to the Lakers, came in the reactions it solicited from Drew’s teammates.
LO stepped up to protect him, as did Barnes. Shannon was right there too, and we heard Kobe’s thoughts on this too. Beasley had been jawing with Artest the whole game and had obviously upset the team, and Drew stepped in to support his teammates. For a guy who a year ago was being blasted for allegedly “not caring enough,” what more do some people want of the guy?
T. Rogers says
Andrew should have at least made it appear he was making a play on the ball. As it stands he looks like he simply tried to take Beasley out. He can’t expect the league to cut him any slack in that case. He knocked the guy to the floor in mid air.
This is another reason why NBA refs frustrate me. One of the reasons they should never let aggressive fouls go is because they lead to frustration on the part of the player or teams that are getting jobbed. When players keep getting elbowed or raked across the face or arms with no whistle they will eventually explode. Back in the day someone like Maurice Lucas didn’t need the refs to control that for him. He’d lay a player out and, low and behold, that player would play the Blazers straight up for the rest of the game. Now these officials will routinely allow one team to get beat up and expect the players to sit there and take it. Allowing players to lay people out every now and then without the threat of suspension would do much more to keep the game clean. Can you image how different KG’s demeanor would be if guys were allow to take him without fear of suspension and multiple thousands of dollars in fines?
I don’t advocate dirty or bordline dirty play. However, this is what results when NBA officals won’t do their jobs with consistency.
I don’t think Andrew has a mean streak. I think he is very competitive, like all NBA players, and that he has a temper. Combine those two with the fact he really cares about the team and his team mates, and you get what looks like a “mean streak” but in reality is just a desire to win and help his team. Kendrick Perkins has a mean streak. So does Kobe, Barnes, and Artest. Until I have seen more proof, I remain doubtful whether Andrew has a mean streak or not.
Also, I fully agree with Chownoir, there is a big difference between a hard clean foul, and a cheap shot. A good measure is, if someone did the same thing he just did to Lamar or Pau, would we be okay with a 2-game suspension and be willing to shrug it off with, “it’s okay, it was a play-off foul. He was just sending a message” If the answer to that question is “no”, then we probably shouldn’t defend what Andrew did. Double standards are always ugly.
To be honest, I don’t want to see anyone on my team play dirty. I don’t want to see cheap shots, attempts to cause injury, or anything other than clean ball. I can’t wait for the day the label “soft” is forever erased, but while I wait, I want labels like “thugs” and “dirty” to stay away. We’re not the Celtics… are we? 😉
dave m says
All excellent links, and from SfS, stuff about Italian punk bands, confused dogs and old school enforcers, haha. http://tinyurl.com/fwuyl
dave m says
Um, would you believe http://tinyurl.com/63fwuyl
Hanging my head in shame.
Phillip Barnett says
Lakers/Suns Preview and Chat is up: http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2011/03/22/preview-and-chat-the-phoenix-suns-5/
I am a man of my word… I didn’t care that Fisher had an awful playoffs and Finals… when he dominated the last five minutes of the most important game of the season the least I could do was stop berating him publicly. And you know what? It has been very easy to do. Whenever I have the urge to come on here and comment honestly about his play all I have to do is remember a humid night in Boston where everyone else on the Lakers got small and those giant Fisher testicles yet again just swelled up.
WOW WHAT A GAME!!!