L.A. Lakers: Are Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and Andrew Bynum Ready for a Different Kind of Drama?

On Sunday afternoon Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and the Los Angeles Lakers will face the New Orleans Hornets in Game One of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, and we will finally have an idea of what type of effect, if any, the events of last week had on the team.

The Lakers were dealing with issues on various fronts, as Bryant and Jackson's fines from the NBA and Bynum's knee injury have basically overshadowed the team's series with New Orleans.

Bynum got the drama parade started when he fell to the floor awkwardly during a game against the San Antonio Spurs, and Lakers fans everywhere held their collective breaths as their hopes for a three-peat sat grimacing on the court in pain.

In the same game Bryant was called for a technical foul in the 3rd quarter, and as he sat on the bench he uttered the two now infamous words that left his wallet $100,000 lighter and ignited the furor of civil rights groups across the country.

Not to be undone, Jackson decided to enter the soap opera himself by telling a group of reporters that he felt the NBA's collective bargaining issues would eventually lead to a stoppage in play, and that concern factored into his decision to retire after this season.

Jackson's little nuggets of wisdom led to another $75,000 fine from David Stern and the NBA, and now the Lakers must find a way to balance those issues with the drama of playoff basketball, and they are inter-related.

For instance Bryant has made all the right moves in the wake of his incident, and even went as far to say that the hateful word he spoke should be erased from our collective vocabulary.

The Lakers in turn have agreed to work with various civil rights groups in an effort to educate children on the pain that anti-gay slurs can cause.

But none of that will matter in the playoffs, because the media will continue to latch onto the story, and opposing fans will use it as a ...

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