BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The Indiana Pacers have talked the talk and when the smoked cleared they were not equipped to walk the walk. In short, the Pacers have been exposed for the soft team they are and it was by the very team they thought they were punking.
The Pacers had this idea that they would bully their way past the superior talent of the Miami Heat and into the Eastern Conference Finals. Their idea would have been genius if they were the Detroit Pistons or Boston Celtics of the early 80s, but they are not.
Or perhaps the plan would have been successful if they were equipped with someone who was built to play that role, but they are not.
Rule number one in playing a tough guy is you have to be a TOUGH GUY.
It is kind of a necessary ingredient to be taken seriously. Now respectfully speaking Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, and Tyler Hansbourgh are "I'm going to go get" guys not the guys "you go get" for a fight.
Their attempt to intimidate was tragically pathetic and resulted in an epic fail as they would finally succumb in six games to the Miami Heat. What made this so preposterous is how bad Indiana actually failed.
Beginning with Danny Granger’s attempting to get into the head of LeBron James only to receive the same treatment game in and game out by James was hilarious. Granger’s “wolfing” did nothing more than bring light to just how poorly he was playing in the series. The forward shot a paltry 38 percent on 29 of 77 shooting.
This is the epitome of writing a check your a** can’t cash. In between missing shots Granger found a way to be abused by the league MVP, who dropped 40 points in game five. With this the Louisiana native found it befitting to play the role of futile enforcer.
Then Roy Hibbert, who unlike Granger played well, was just as guilty of falsifying the tough guy role. His media battles cries of “we will be ready” and “they are responding to our physical play” were classic.
The Pacers may have even had a chance, but once Heat forward Udonis Haslem Hong Kong Phooey karate chopped Hansbrough, the jig was up.
We all smiled a little, except Charles Barkley, when Haslem chopped down Hansbrough. It was the Miami Heat’s way of saying enough with the nonsense, and we all appreciated it immensely. The banter coming from Indiana was not only un-basketball related it was comical.
Physical, even borderline cheap, basketball is fine and encouraged. However, annoying and agitating basketball is not. Constant talking about how tough you are while laying down brick after brick and getting elbow after elbow is just asinine.
The sad part about this game plan was if the Pacers just played basketball they would have remained competitive. If the focused remained on playing their game and not whining about a lack of respect, we all would not have known they were shook to death.
Instead it became obvious to everyone watching they were scarred at the thought of playing the Heat and once Miami bucked back the Pacers folded, which prompted one of the league’s all-time tough guys to speak up.
One of the game’s most notorious trash talkers called his team soft, PUBLICLY. Larry Bird announced to the world what we already knew the Pacers were sunk, and they have no one to blame but themselves.
Indiana had a chance to push the series to a seventh game, if they had just balled. The Pacers were a good team all season that played aggressive on the offensive end. This led to the group finishing third in the league in free-throw attempts. The team also remained a strong defensive unit that held clubs to the sixth worst field goal percentage in the league.
This is who they were and this is who they should have been.
Granger should have spent less time talking and more time driving. Eventually Granger’s body gave in and he was hobbled in game six when Indiana needed him most. Eventually Hibbert could not keep up the façade and had very little left in the tank when Indiana needed him most in game six.
Meanwhile, Wade and James continued to laugh at the Pacers “game”. Wade gave Granger a warning in game four that he was going to send his “Luca Brasi” to the party. Haslem upon arrival separated the real from the fake.
In the end no one believed the Pacers were who they claimed to be and sadly they lost an opportunity to announce to the world who they really were.
BY: KWAME FISHER-JONES
The good news is the Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the second round of the 2011-2012 NBA Playoffs. The bad news is they have been exposed. When the Lakers were headed to a game seven against the inferior Denver Nuggets few believed they would actually lose that game. Now after going seven rounds with a team who had no business winning more than one game LA is headed to Oklahoma City, and from there who knows.
What began as a season with more questions than answers now appears to have provided us with the answers we all have been desperately seeking.
Fans can no longer wonder who is Andrew Bynum? How will Pau Gasol rebound from a horrid 2011 post season? Who will defend the speedy dynamic point guards of the west? After a lockout shortened season and a first round playoff series it is no longer the questions that have fans bugging, it is the answers.
Bynum can best be described as a temperamental enigma, who when motivated can be dominant.
However, if not motivated can bring about memories of Benoit Benjamin. The center was a force this year but proved even when completely healthy he may never be a franchise player. The Laker big man struggles with double teams, recognizing defenses, and most of all has yet to develop a go to move.
These things can be corrected, but Bynum’s shall we say “selective aggressiveness” is indefensible. More than anything no correctional drill or facility can correct that.
He is who he is. Bynum has shown us all who he is and it is now up to Lakers brass to accept it and deal.
Meanwhile, Pau Gasol’s game seven reiterated that he is again one of the best Robins to ever play the game. However, his season of inconsistency and his playoff games of irrelevance have confirmed it is time to move the Spaniard.
The last major question was thought to have been solved with the preseason acquisition of point guard Chris Paul, yet Paul never made it to the Laker’s locker room. Instead the dynamo was redirected to Clipperville. That move provided Los Angeles with the ultimate booby prize in Ramon Sessions.
The career back-up hit LA with a bang and had the streets all a buzz. The problem was the season did not end at that point and since then Sessions has returned to who he has always been, a career backup. Sessions has always struggled to play defense is has never been a proficient outside shooter.
Now the Purple and Gold head to Oklahoma City ready to prove that the things we have all witnessed this season are not fact. They now head to OKC and fans are hoping to see a Lakers club that differs from the one that eventually showed up against the Nuggets. Therein lies the problem, the Lakers that showed up against the Nuggets are the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Lakers.
The hope is Kobe will defend Westbrook and stop his penetration, the hope is Bynum will dominate the walking hooptie that is Kendrick Perkins, and the hope is Gasol will draw Serge Ibaka from the basket and thus stifle his shot-blocking ability. The truth of the situation is hope leaves when reality walks in.
The reality is this group has struggled to consistently accomplish those things all season, so it is foolish to think they will play that way now. It is difficult to expect to LA to change their flow mid verse against a better emcee. Oklahoma City will beat the Lakers not because they hope to be something they are not, but because they are who they have been all season which is a consistently better team.