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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Lakers poll: Did you feel sympathy?

By Brian Kamenetzky

"None. You forget who you're talking to."

That was Kobe Bryant's response Tuesday night when I asked whether at any point during the game he felt a little compassion for guys on the other bench, given the severity of the beatdown the Lakers laid on them. The Cavs scored only 57 points, and the 55-point margin of victory was the third-largest in Lakers history and their lowest point total surrendered since the advent of the shot clock more than a half century ago. Any empathy for Byron Scott? Yes, from the more macro perspective of watching a close friend suffer through what is an eight-win season unlikely to get better any time soon. But the players? No love from Kobe.
Shannon Brown was similarly unsympathetic, noting that none of the Cavs would have been if the tables were turned, particularly if given a chance to humiliate the Lakers. Nor would the guys in the locker room want it. (I suspect the Cavs don't, either.) Andrew Bynum shed no tears for the wine and gold, despite their extensive injury issues. "No, not really. The same situation with people being out can happen to any team, so we have to go out and handle our business the same way," he said.

From a player's perspective, I get it. As Bryant said, "You beat them by as many points as you can beat 'em." That's the object. No need to sweep the leg, but a good, clean beatdown is totally appropriate. But as an observer? I absolutely felt bad for the Cavs Tuesday night, an undermanned squad getting embarrassed in a very public setting. It reminded me of a time in high school I was forced to sit across the room at a friend's house while he was completely eviscerated by his dad. I couldn't leave the room (in part because my function there was to make sure my buddy wasn't killed), and needless to say, it was uncomfortable.

It's not as if the Cavs are the Celtics, right? LeBron James, the source of most/all anti-Cavaliers sentiment in years past, has moved on in famously arrogant fashion, turning the people of Cleveland and their basketball team into very sympathetic figures in the process. None of the other players on the roster has any history rubbing L.A. the wrong way. (What Lakers booster sat at home preening because Samardo Samuels was 1-for-12?)

Plus, the Cavs have a former Lakers great on the sideline.

So I'm curious: As a fan, did you feel sympathy for the Cavs?