Ballin’: L.A. Empire Comes Tumbling Down
The LA dynasty is dead. For Lakers Nation, that much became more and more abundantly clear throughout what heretofore will be known as the Dallas debacle. What remains gut-wrenchingly a mystery is if it all had to come to this now, if the empire could have somehow been better preserved?
Not many in the basketball universe— even those named Dirk Nowitzki chief among them— would have tried selling you on the notion that the Mavs were 36-points, or even four consecutive victories better than the two-time defending champs at the onslaught of this series. But that’s what it mercifully came to on national TV Sunday night, the team of the last decade reduced to spineless quitters and heartless cheap shot artists.
“I don’t know where we lost it, that certain drive, that bond we’ve had in the past, the cohesive drive in order to overcome adversity,” reflected a pensive Lamar Odom. “There was something missing for us.”
Can you say passion? The Lakers simply didn’t show much of it throughout this series, not when they lost a 16-point third quarter lead in the opener on their home floor nor when they squandered a late six-point fourth quarter lead during a must-win Game 3 meltdown.
Making things all the more ironic are rumors that at least of a measure of their dissolution could be directly traced to matters of the heart. Rumors of some sort of ongoing discord between the wife of Kobe Bryant and the girlfriend of Pau Gasol became so persistent during the series that Bryant felt the need to publicly dismiss them.
“They barely know each other,” Bryant told the Orange County Register. But ask yourself this: If Kobe Bryant, killer competitor that he is, felt the need to address such trivial matters on the eve of what could have been the last game he’s ever to play under the winningest coach of all time to convince all that there was nothing to it almost absolutely assure everyone that there was something to it?
Just how much of it we’ll ever really know remains as murky as the question of if any of it all had to be in the first place. Alas, it is what it is. -Glenn Minnis