The Los Angeles Lakers were used to playing with their backs against the wall. Nearly every year since Kobe Bryant joined the franchise in 1996, the Lakers have bickered among each other, played below their potential and created internal drama that was on par with an award-winning Hollywood script.
But similar to most Hollywood comeback stories, the Lakers usually found ways to overcome their adversities to advance in the playoffs and win championships. In 2010, the Lakers lost seven games in the playoffs and still put forth enough effort to win the title.
However, the Lakers were undone by the arrogant notion that they could play awful and always win because they possess more talent than 95 percent of the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks made the Lakers pay for their overconfidence by eliminating them in four games and defeating them by 36 points on Mother’s Day.
During the waning moments of Phil Jackson’s last game coaching, the Lakers conducted themselves like sore losers who wanted to pick a street fight because they didn’t have enough fight on the court. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected after two hard and unnecessary fouls. It was a disgraceful end to Jackson’s illustrious career and marked the beginning of a puzzling new era for the Lakers franchise.
Another perplexing NBA team continued with their topsy-turvy play. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Bulls in game 4 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals to even the series at 2-2. When the Hawks have taken advantage of obvious mismatches against the Bulls, they appear to be a team of championship quality.
But they often lose confidence and tend to give up if their opponents attack first. NBA MVP Derrick Rose has been the only consistent Bulls player in the series and will have a difficult time advancing without more offensive help from his teammates.
The Bulls and Hawks will face off in Chicago on Tuesday evening. –amir shaw