It was something that was not supposed to happen. The core of the two previous championship teams - Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher was still intact. Kobe was still in his prime. The Lakers even got an upgrade at the bench with the arrival of Matt Barnes and Steve Blake. Also, this was Phil Jackson's final year of coaching. What better way to end his career than to ride off into the sunset with the Larry O'Brien trophy. Yet, it happened, the Los Angeles Lakers got swept.
This was done no less by the Dallas Mavericks - a perennial playoff team who always seemed to do well in the regular season only to flame out in the playoffs. They did it in a convincing fashion. They stole a game in Game 1. They outplayed the Lakers in Game 2. They were able to close a tight game in Game 3. They annihilated the Lakers with twenty three-point bombs en route to a thirty six point victory in Game 4.
Not only was the sweep embarrassing, the Lakers embarrassed themselves further with unsportsmanlike conduct. Ron Artest clotheslined JJ Barea in Game 2, which lead to his suspension in Game 3. Lamar Odom went after Nowitzki in Game 4 and promptly got ejected. Andrew Bynum then clobbered JJ Barea with his elbow and got ejected as well. These acts were chastised by no less than Laker legend Magic Johnson. He emphasized that you must be a champion in victory and in defeat.
The Lakers brought this upon themselves. They did not make the move to get a more servicable starting point guard. They instead relied on thirty six year old Derek Fisher.They did not upgrade the bench significantly enough and their two big bench signings turned out to be duds. They also were not able to score much in one of the richest free agent classes in recent history.
With Phil leaving, Kobe worn down by injuries and mileage and an aging line-up, this may be curtains for the Lakers. Though their current group would handily make the playoffs each and every year, a championship is out of the question. Unless they are able to swing trades or sign free agents with the caliber of a Dwight Howard or Chris Paul, the Lakers would just be in NBA limbo - too good not to get into the play-offs and not bad enough to get into the lottery.