The homepage of the Memphis Commercial Appeal is a study in overstimulation. All kinds of Grizzlies stories (great unexpected news!) commingled with all kinds of flooding stories (terrible unexpected news!). Here's hoping that a week from now basketball is the bigger of those two stories.
Marc Stein on loss of focus: "One forgetful reporter (me) asked Phil Jackson before Game 2 whether he had named this final run with the Lakers as he did in '98 with the Bulls when he hatched the Last Dance. 'No, I haven't,' Jackson said. Then he added: 'I think I did, but I forgot.' Various Lakers beat writers in the room then quickly reminded Jackson that he's been calling it the 'Last Stand' since this past summer." Related: The photographs of Phil Jackson after elimination show him looking as happy as any photos I have seen.
By this point of the season, fans of 23 teams are asking themselves: "What went wrong?" As you ponder that, I urge you to watch these amazing pictures of jello dropped from a height.
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo talking post-game about playing injured ... it's fascinating stuff. How one player can get another, literally, to breathe.
Wow. Watch Jaokim Noah and Luol Deng completely upset after they both stick to Joe Johnson, leaving Al Horford open for a crunch time dunk. Amazing thing is ... it has happened twice in this series, with the same play. (Also amusing in that video: Look how ready Carlos Boozer is to catch that jump ball.)
Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference on the NBA's "ruling class" of the Lakers, Magic and Celtics: "Over that 3-year span, the Lakers-Celtics-Magic triad went 20-1 in series against non-ruling class teams, and as a result the road to the NBA title always went through one of the three teams. The rest of the league was largely irrelevant when it came to determining the championship."
Lots of Twitter talk about what's best for the Lakers. Hard to envision anything better than bringing in a new star (Dwight Howard or Chris Paul) to lead the team as Kobe Bryant plays the role of aging support player. But it's awfully hard to picture Bryant playing a supporting role, right?
LeBron James used the word "retarded" as a synonym for "dumb." There's a good reason not to do that. Kevin Arnovitz tells the story of his aunt: "I hated these visits, from the time I was a little kid until I left for college. The severity of the residents' disabilities made me uncomfortable, and the manner in which my father tried to communicate with my aunt depressed me to no end. He was completely devoted to her welfare, yet her only capacity to return that benevolence was a series of moans. During these drop-bys, I'd bid my aunt hello, then retreat to the main sitting area where I would watch the Braves or World Championship Wrestling with the medics and a couple of patients who had minor disabilities. I regret I wasn't as generous as I should've been during those visits. Mustering the maturity to hang out a few minutes longer with my aunt would've been a nice way to honor my father. Yet I always felt a measure of pride about not using 'retarded' the way most kids did and for asking friends to lay off 'retarded,' particularly when they came over my house or were hanging out with my family. In fact, refraining from 'retarded' was probably the one and only thing I ever gave my aunt -- the dignity of not being stigmatized."
Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game: "I doubted the ability of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood to defend against LaMarcus Aldridge’s versatility, and then doubted their ability to defend against Bynum’s sheer size. I was horribly wrong, and both players have been defensive rock stars. Bynum scored six points and grabbed just six boards in Game 4, his second game in this series where he had both under 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bynum still had a pair of successful performances, but that’s the expectation. He played up to par in two games, and was held far below his expected performance in two others, including the final outing of the Lakers’ season."
M. Haubs of The Painted Area says it's time to trade Pau Gasol -- not because he's the weak link, but because Bynum is too young and full of potential. "At almost 31 years old with 3 years/$57 million remaining on his contract, Gasol really only appeals to teams on the cusp of true championship contention, and very few of those teams have a need for him, or the right assets to return. One team which stands out is Denver, with Ray Felton seemingly available, though rising young star Danilo Gallinari could be the sticking point. Felton and Gallinari seems like it might be more than Denver would be willing to give up; Felton and Wilson Chandler (a restricted free agent who would have to be signed-and-traded) might not be enough for L.A."
Statistical consultant Wayne Winston posits that Andrew Bynum's defense was a particular weak link for the Lakers, something Bynum himself suggested after Game 2.
Everyone is amazed that Mark Cuban has not made a spectacle of himself during the Mavericks' great run. I think back to 2006, when Dirk Nowitzki called Cuban out in the media for failing to control himself. Maybe Nowitzki got through?
I hear you Mavericks fans, saying this is about great Maverick play, not merely the stumbling of the Lakers. You're right on a lot of levels. However, look at this photo. Watch the highlights of J.J. Barea's big Game 2 flurry. For stretches of this season, the NBA's team of the decade was a series of grave defensive meltdowns. Your team did everything it had to and more, and turned in the performance of the 2011 playoffs, but there's also this unfolding psychodrama of the most famous team in the land. Both are real stories.
A huge fan of the Kings, but unwilling to do business with the Maloofs.