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Monday, May 16, 2011

It's a stretch to compare Pistons' and Lakers' playoff exits

(First off, I know I'm a week late on this, but I just found this story link buried in my email.)
Since we're approaching the 20th anniversary of the infamous Pistons walk-off in the Eastern Conference Finals, it's worth noting the New York Times saw a similarity between the Pistons' exit and the way with which the two-time defending champion Lakers went out - like goons - last weekend against the Mavericks.
Detroit's 1991 loss marked the end of the Bad Boy era, but was precipitated by a smattering of trash talk from Bulls star Michael Jordan in regards to the Pistons' well-noted physicality. Those comments have long been the held as the reason for the Isiah Thomas-led walkoff with seven seconds remaining.

Like Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom's frustration fueled antics, the Pistons shoved Bulls star Scottie Pippen to the ground, a tag-team effort between Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman. That was the only noted flareup of that Game 4. The fire had already been extinguished.
Thomas noted at Dennis Rodman's Pistons jersey retirement that Rodman chose to wear No. 91 during his stint with the Bulls from 1995-98 to symbolize the event.
"I bet you didn't know that," Thomas said.
Rodman said that night that former Bulls coach Phil Jackson asked Rodman prior to the Hall of Fame rebounder's time in the Windy City, to extend an olive branch to Scottie Pippen for the hard fouls Pippen, also a Hall of Famer, had to endure during the rivalry with the Pistons.
It was a different time when the hard-nosed Pistons refused to shake hands with the upstart Bulls. It's a different era where Bad Boy-type fouls are assessed with varying degrees of intent, but the Pistons and Bulls had a rivalry going back at least four consecutive years where they met in the playoffs. Lakers-Mavs doesn't convey anywhere near the same hatred. Those Laker outbursts were (mostly) unexpected and definitely uncalled for. At least the Bad Boys could claim they were going for the ball.
That's why the exits of these three-time consecutive conference champions differ. The Lakers' demise looks worse than the egress of a group of playground-style ruffians who had long played the villain. That's hard to do.


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