PRESUMED DYNASTY in the making was reduced Sunday into just another talented young team without a championship ring. Whatever the Lakers may yet become, this morning they wake up with only one title to their credit.
Western Conference runners-up.The team that won 61 games, the one that boasted four All-Stars, the one that tore through the Seattle SuperSonics like a locomotive through rice paper, the one prematurely anointed "Showtime II," was relegated to a mere postseason footnote, dismantled by the older, savvier, clearly superior Utah Jazz.
Los Angeles Daily News
SO HERE ARE the Los Angeles Lakers, young and quick, built around a mountain of man in the middle and some of the slickest shooters in the NBA. Shaquille O'Neal and his Generation-X pals will watch the NBA Finals from home, though, a little smarter perhaps, than they were before being swept by the Utah Jazz.
This was not supposed to happen. The Lakers came into this series with a bounce to their step after beating Seattle in five games . . . Now they know how the Supersonics felt.
THIS YEAR'S version of the Jazz is better than last year's. They can beat anyone on any court at any time - even the five-time defending champion Bulls . . .
The point is this: At this stage of the season, the Jazz are playing at a championship level with championship intensity. Defeating the Bulls in the finals would not be a surprise, whereas last year it would have been.
THE LOS ANGELES Lakers came into the Western Conference final nine days ago seemingly on the brink of greatness, an athletic collection of Showtime All-Stars bursting with the confidence of youth.
They feel rather foolish today.
The veteran Utah Jazz - a team of throwbacks that refuses to fade - completed their sweep of the Lakers Sunday, spanking them like naughty children, 96-92, and proving again that experience is basketball's ultimate teacher.
Talent was wasted on the young.
LAKERS COACH DEL Harris was wearing a black suit Sunday. Good choice.
It was something of a funeral for his team, which was swept out of the Western Conference finals by the Utah Jazz four games to none after a 96-92 loss. Now the larger question for the young, talented Los Angeles Shaqers is whether this embarrassing, one-sided loss was a death knell for this team and its coaching staff.
EARVIN "Magic" Johnson has been part of some of the proudest moments in Los Angeles history.
This series was not one of them.
Johnson stood in the bowels of the Great Western Forum Sunday, shaking his head in disgust. Utah's 96-92 victory had swept the Lakers out of the playoffs. For nine days, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport watched as the Jazz not only outplayed the Lakers, but displayed more intelligence, hustle and desire.
That, in Johnson's mind, was the most shameful thing of all.
"We're all disappointed," said Johnson, now a part owner of the club. "This is not the way we were supposed to go out."
Johnson is wrong. The ending was appropriate. This Generation X team had no business in the Western Conference finals, and the Jazz made that painfully evident.
Dallas Morning News
LAST FEBRUARY IN the NBA All-Star Game, Karl Malone, a future Hall of Famer, made the mistake of trying to set a pick for a Western Conference teammate.
The teammate happened to be wunderkind Kobe Bryant, one of four Lakers All-Stars. Bryant ignominiously waved Malone off as if the Jazz forward were some sort of B-Team scrub. Not long after that, Malone told his coach he had no interest in participating in a fashion show.
On Sunday afternoon, in the building that houses the team that likes to think it sets the basketball fashion trend, the worm turned. Malone and the Utah Jazz figuratively waved Bryant and the All-Star studded Lakers off the court, as if they were adolescents trying to play in an adult's world.
Minneapolis Star Tribune