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The unexpected immaturity of the Los Angeles Lakers

Now I’m not one to criticize success. I may consistently cheer for the underdog, but I don’t equivalently cheer against the favorite. As a rule, I enjoy the game of basketball. I find it to be generally more compelling and honest than most other forms of entertainment.

And the Lakers are pretty much the definition of success when it comes to the NBA. When you’ve appeared in more than half of your sport’s championships and won more than half of your appearances, you’ve earned yourself a little respectful deference.

Also, though, when you’ve been lucky enough to be so talented and thoroughly dominant, you’re usually expected to behave like an adult, to give the respect you demand, even when things don’t go your way.

The thing that I personally appreciate most about the NBA, and sports in general, is the sincere effort that this sort of competition demands. But what has been funny (and kind of amazing) about this particular incarnation of the Lakers is that they’re so talented, they haven’t always had to try.

And, to me, that’s what the real shame of all this has been, that we’ll inevitably have to view this series as a Lakers failure and not a Mavs success. That may have been how many would have seen any scenario in which Dallas won this series, but a win like this, with ‘collapse’ written in all-caps on the Wikipedia description, with the defending champs and resident basketball virtuosos failing to even compete and pouting like spoiled school children in the final minutes, robs the Mavericks of the dignity of their hard-fought win.

As a fan of the NBA, I’m excited about the unexpected storyline of this upset, but also equally disappointed with the fact that the Lakers had so little respect for themselves and for basketball that they decided it wasn’t worth their time to show up.

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