You can always tell a lot more about a man following a loss than you can after a win.
Congratulations Andrew Bynum, ya big dumb animal, you have now been reduced to a punchline for the rest of your existence (people may forget - I will remind them). In your effort to prove you're a tough guy, you took out the smallest guy on the court. Maybe you didn't see the elderly woman sitting courtside? Hopefully, there were some children in the locker room for him beat on to continue his hissy fit. Although, to be fair, I guess they didn't just get done abusing your backside to the point where the police had to be called (we've got a bleeder!). I am impressed that you were able to steal the goat label away from both L'Odom (who went after The Man) and Kobe Bryant (do your scowl Kobe!). I could attach any number of characterizations to your embarrassment, however I think the most obvious might be the most fitting - Bitch.
The best part about the Lakers meltdown was that it was such a glorious sight to take in that it effectively countered watching them win the past two NBA Championships. I feel like it's almost been negated in my mind now. Dejustified. Imagine how you'd feel if you were a true, die-hard Lakers fan (are there any?) right now. Not only did your team just take a beatdown of epic proportions, but they showed their true colors in the process. And you sit back and think to yourself, "This is the team I've been supporting this whole time...?!" I can't imagine how their true fans (there's gotta be some, right?) could go on supporting this current group of players. I guess it's a long offseason though.
The weirdest part of the whole thing was how surprised everybody was. I expected everything I saw in Game 4. Magic Johnson and Mike Wilbon were shocked that the Lakers came out with a weak effort in the first half, but I fully expected a Lakers lay down. This ain't Kobe's first time either. In fact, when he loses he usually goes down with a whimper in the Playoffs (2008 Finals anybody?). So maybe they just believed in Phil Jackson? Although, he had never been in a 3-0 hole before, and anybody that heard his pre-game taped interview could easily tell that he had moved on past this series. So once the game was in hand (around mid 2nd quarter), my thoughts immediately turned to what kind of Laker meltdown we were about to see. To my surprise, people weren't expecting this either. Why did people think the Lakers exude class? Because there were no qualms during their times of success? The best part of this series is how it verified everything I had previously thought about the Lakers.
Now on to the man...
Dirk Nowitzki - How ya like me now? Can this man finally get a break when being discussed as a current superstar and/or all time great? Does publicly undressing Kobe and spanking him in front of the entire fraternity of the NBA enough? I mean he had a few bad seriesi (although it was more his team than himself) and yet he gets brushed aside when compared to rest of the league's elite. Hell, Kobe has quit on his team 2-3 times throughout his career now, yet that barely gets a mention. It's as if quitting on your team carries more street cred than going all out but falling short. That's a sad, sad state of affairs, man.
But since this is the first time they've ever met in the NBA Playoffs, I have no problem now saying that Dirk Nowitzki owns Kobe. Whatcha'll say about that?
"Yea, but Kobe is on the tail end of his career, thus lessening Dirk's accomplishment." I almost bought into this argument myself, until one quick look at Wikipedia told me that DIRK IS OLDER than Kobe!
"Yea, but Kobe has 5 rings, while Dirk has none." Well, 3 of those rings belong to Shaq. Kobe played a big part in obtaining them, but now you're walking the slippery slope of putting the likes of Rick Fox ahead of Dirk (which wouldn't shock me to hear NBA folks do). 2 of the rings are rightly Kobe's, but he needed a star in Pau Gasol to get back to that level. Remember, he doesn't even have a single series victory without Shaq or Pau. So Laker fans (crickets) might wanna reconsider that whole blaming Pau thing.
"Yea, but this series wasn't about Kobe vs. Dirk. The Mavs are just better than the Lakers. Not Kobe's fault." Tell that to Dirk's reputation of the last 10 years. But, you are right, because Kobe's Lakers have the far superior team to the Mavs. As Sports Guy tweeted last night...
On paper, LA has 4 of the best 5 players in the series. Their 4th best player (Odom) would be #2 for Dallas.So that would mean that Dirk would have to severely outplay Kobe to give his Mavs a chance at this shocking upset right? A quick look at point totals doesn't give you that impression. However, a deeper look at games 1 & 3 reveal that Dirk made the plays down the stretch, while Kobe came up empty (or was the 2nd choice behind L'Odom). Best closer in the league? Nein.
"Yea, but Kobe can just buy the Playoffs a 4 million dollar ring and it'll all go away." Now that one I cannot counter. Sometimes you just gotta tip your hat to a man that has it all figured out.
Enough about Kobe though. Like his teammates, I'm gonna give up on him. However, I remain very intrigued by what drives this perception of Dirk. As my buddy Cheebah Sheebah and I discussed the issue, we wondered if he will always remain perpetually underrated because he isn't flashy on or off the court. He rarely dunks the ball (although when he does it sounds something like this). He hardly even likes to shoot 3's anymore (even though he shot 70% for the series from deep). He DOES like to always make the right play (almost never see the Mavs take a bad shot, and that starts with Him), get all of his teammates involved (the most unselfish non-point guard in the NBA), and play smart. He's very comparable to Tim Duncan in these regards, but with one big difference: He's not boring as shit.
I'm just really glad to see Dirk rise up and make atleast one more (hopefully not last) run in the NBA Playoffs. I didn't (and never will) think that the NBA didn't intervene in the 2006 Finals, giving the Heat a hockey assist to the Championship (although I've never contended the Mavs are innocent in this injustice - I just think that title should be nullified altogether). I feel like if Dirk and I can keep feeding off the same seismic energy (huge bowling victory this week for Ze Dirkness), then he might just get his second chance.
Go Dirk, go Mavs.