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NBA Playoffs 2011: WTF Just Happened?!

Andrew Bynum’s flagrant foul on JJ Barea may signal the end for Bynum as an LA Laker. Andrew Bynum’s flagrant foul on JJ Barea may signal the end for Bynum as an LA Laker.

It was the flagrant foul heard ‘round the world. When 7-foot, 285 lbs Los Angeles Laker center Andrew Bynum threw a crushing forearm into the foot shorter and one hundred pounds lighter Dallas Maverick guard JJ Barea, it represented more than just pride meeting frustration. The crushing blow symbolized a rapidly fading era of professional basketball tradition lashing out at the new breed of faster, fresher faces that are en route to redefining the NBA elite.

Boasting even newer marquee names like Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and fresh from winning the first playoff series in franchise history, Memphis look to be cultivating a dynasty of their own.

Ironic, since the fresh-faced Bynum is one of the youngest members of the Lakers and the Mavericks are more of an expensive and very successful “science experiment” to create a team specifically designed to defeat the back-to-back champions. But while the Lakers crashed and burned in fashion that even overshadowed the inglorious first round exit of the aging and formerly dominant San Antonio, the real action in the Western Conference has been going on between Memphis and Oklahoma.

Easily the most exciting series since the now-legendary first round tussle between the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics in 2009, these young bucks of the hardwood are showing the kind of passion and desire that defines champions. Their triple overtime slugfest in Game 4 of this year’s Eastern Conference Semi-Finals was an instant classic that’s sure to be talked about for years to come. Led by emerging superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma Thunder were able to wrestle the game away from the Grizzlies. Boasting even newer marquee names like Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and fresh from winning the first playoff series in franchise history, Memphis look to be cultivating a dynasty of their own. The Grizzlies were even picked by none less than league commissioner David Stern as a team to watch this post-season.

Those aforementioned Boston Celtics, looking aged and haggard, are barely holding onto their playoff lives against the power trio of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh AKA the Miami Heat, down 3-1 in the seven-game series. Despite a few flashes of their former glory, the Celtics have looked almost as hapless as the Lakers this post-season. Without some sort of miracle, the Heat will be meeting either the Chicago Bulls (led my league MVP Derrick Rose) or the Atlanta Hawks, another team not expected to be around at this stage of the playoffs. With nine-year vet Joe Johnson putting up impressive numbers, they’ve given the Bulls a much tougher fight than anyone expected.

While it’s still much too soon to predict how this is all going to end up (although many pontificators both professional and amateur with certainly try), the NBA playoffs this year have already provided plenty of engaging drama and quality basketball, with the promise of much, much more.

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Andrew Bynum apologizes for his flagrant foul on JJ Barea
Last modified on Thursday, 30 August 2012 14:04

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