I don't wish injuries on any player or team. They are part of the game and they happen to everyone. When you build a franchise, you try and create as much depth as possible knowing you are likely going to have to use it, especially during the grind of the NBA season.
The Cavaliers know this well, having lost 40% of their starting lineup for a prolonged period last month. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Delonte West are a big part of what the Cavaliers do, especially on the defensive end. Losing them changes everything, from the offensive calls to the rotation off the bench. The Cavs, to their credit, have done as well as can be expected dealing with those losses and let's just say it, it's not like LeBron James is missing double-digit games.
The injury issues didn't keep the national media from taking shots at the Cavaliers after big road losses against the Lakers and Magic, however, which comes with the territory when LeBron James plays on your team. These games were considered measuring sticks for both LA and Orlando, some going so far as to say it was the "coming out party" for the Magic. Injuries to the Cavaliers be damned.
I bring this up because now it is the Lakers and Magic that have to deal with significant injuries to their starting lineup. As a basketball fan I am saddened by this, but as a bitter Cavs fan I am waiting to see if the media treats those two teams like they treated the Cavaliers.
In LA, it's Andrew Bynum that went down. Significant to be sure, but not Kobe Bryant getting hurt. Bynum looked as though he had finally arrived and the Lakers looked tough to beat. The Cavaliers were completely dominated by the size of the Lakers in LA a couple weeks ago, but were without their own big man in that game. This Sunday, the Lakers get to have the tables turned when they visit Quicken Loans Arena. Not once as the Lakers were pounding the Cavs did anyone mention the fact that the Cavs were missing two starters. Not once. Take a guess how many times we'll hear about Bynum on Sunday.
To his credit, Kobe Bryant is saying all the right things and he put his game where his mouth was last night scoring 61 against the Knicks. Sunday might be a bit different, however.
The next injury that you'll hear plenty about is to Orlando's All-Star PG Jameer Nelson, who reportedly has a serious shoulder injury. Nelson, like Bynum, is not the best player on his team(Dwight Howard), but is an important piece as the starting PG.
As Nelson was raining threes over Boobie Gibson and Mo Williams last week I kept wondering if it would have been different with the Cavaliers best perimeter defender out at the 3-point line. Delonte West has the size and ability to stay with anyone and has proved it. Of course, no one mentioned this fact, choosing to instead praise Orlando as the true test to Boston in the East.
Now, with Nelson out, let's see if everyone begins to feel sorry for Orlando, or make excuses if they struggle. They played well without Nelson earlier in the year so I think they'll be ok, but I am sure we'll hear all about it.
It might sound like sour grapes, and it probably is. I just don't have much time for double-standars in sports and they are everywhere. Perhaps now, the Lakers and Magic, two teams that enjoyed success against a weakened Cavaliers roster, will get to see what it feels like when they lose an important pience of the puzzle, even though their best players are still on the court.