The Los Angeles Lakers are going a little overboard in trying to shed their “soft” reputation. Against the Houston Rockets in Game 2, the Lakers lay down some serious smack talk during the game and smacked the Rockets with two vicious elbows. Both were calculated and delivered with malice.
In the fourth quarter of a hotly contested and very chippy game, Kobe Bryant sent a message to Ron Artest by swinging an elbow to Artest’s throat. It was an irony or ironies. The bully getting bullied. Ron-Ron did not like that one bit, as he stormed right to Kobe’s face to let him know about it. Artest was ejected, but Kobe brushed off the confrontation. When Bryant was asked about the incident during the postgame news conference, he said nothing. Bryant claimed he did not hear Artest. C’mon, Kobe! The guy was right in your ear. Stop playing the Obi-Wan card and just let the whole world know about your Darth Vader side.
But the biggest bow of the night was delivered by mild-mannered Derek Fisher. Just for the record, I like Derek Fisher. I think he is one of the most well-respected players in the league (he’s the president of the players’ union!) and is one of the classiest people you will ever meet. That’s why it was a total shock to me that D-Fish went to the bully tactic to deliver his message.
To recap what happened, Fisher sized up Houston forward Luis Scola and leveled him with a body check that lifted Scola off his feet and onto the floor. Fisher was assessed a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected. He tried to defend his actions, but he’s not going to convince too many people that it was just a hard, playoff foul. It was more than just a playoff foul. He wanted to hurt Scola to send the message to the Rockets forward, and the rest of the Rockets big men, that the Lakers guards are growing tired of all the illegal moving screens they have been setting for the first two games of the heated series.
Scola had been the target of many Lakers, including Lamar Odom, Sasha Vujacic and even Luke Walton, who rarely gets emotionally involved. Scola must have been really doing something shady to get almost half of the Lakers roster turn against him. Whatever it was, Fisher was going to let him feel it.
As much as I like good hard fouls and physical play in the postseason, I think the Lakers are crossing the line with some of their actions. It’s totally out of character for them. It’s one thing to play tough, it’s another to act tough. The Lakers are not what you call a “tough” team. They are a finese team. It is their greatest strength and their greatest weakness. Kobe is the only pitbull on their squad. The rest of them are puppies. The Lakers should be above all this nonsense, and should just focus on playing basketball instead of acting like a bunch of wanna-be mixed martial artists.