- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Lakers center Andrew Bynum started off his exit interview on Tuesday with an apology for the hit he made on Mavericks guard J.J. Barea late in Los Angeles' Game 4 loss to Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.
"My actions ... don't represent me, my upbringing, this franchise or any of the Laker fans out there that want to watch us and want us to succeed," Bynum said. "Furthermore, and more importantly, I want to actually apologize to J.J. Barea for doing that. I'm just glad that he wasn't seriously injured in the event and all I can say is, I've looked at [the replay], it's terrible and it definitely won't be happening again."
With 8:21 left in Game 4 Sunday and the Lakers down by 32 points, Barea beat Steve Blake off the dribble, drove the lane and soared to the basket for what looked like an uncontested layup. But the 7-foot, 280-pound Bynum closed in and threw a right elbow into the 6-foot Barea's ribs. Barea flew sideways to the court and remained there writhing in pain.
Bynum received a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected. He removed his jersey as he walked off the court and through a tunnel to the visitors locker room at American Airlines Center.
Tuesday represented a change in tone for Bynum, who was unrepentant immediately following Dallas' sweep of the Lakers on Sunday, when he said he committed the foul out of embarrassment.
"We were getting embarrassed, they were breaking us down. So I just fouled somebody," he said after the game Sunday. "I was just kind of salty about being embarrassed. ... For me, it was embarrassing to have the smallest guy on the court keep running down the lane and making shots."
Bynum, who has received a lot of criticism in the national media following the incident, said watching the game tape made him realize how serious the foul was.
"I saw it," Bynum said. "I went in and I watched it, it was terrible. The whole sequence, taking off of the shirt and everything. Sometimes you just have to man up and own it. That's what happened and it's unacceptable. ... It looks bad. It just looks bad."
The sixth-year center's initial attempts to contact Barea and apologize personally have gone unfulfilled, but he plans on continuing to try to get in touch with him.
"I think he has bigger and better and more important things to do, so I don't know if I'll get a response back, but I will [try to reach him]," Bynum said.
Bynum said he expected to be suspended for the infraction. The team expects a decision to come down from the league office by the end of the week.
"I believe I will be suspended. I don't want to be suspended," Bynum said.
Bynum was suspended for two games in March for committing a similar foul on Minnesota's Michael Beasley. The NBA weighs a player's discipline history when doling out a subsequent suspension, so it is likely Bynum's hit on Barea will be for more than two games.
Lakers forward Ron Artest, who was suspended for Game 3 after hitting Barea in the face late in Game 2, seemed to have more problems with the league's decision to ban him a game than his decision to foul Barea.
"What are you going to do? You got a guy who's 5-2," Artest said, poking fun at Barea's height. "I extend ... and his face was in my palm. When it happened I was like, 'Oh boy, are you all right, young fella?' ... Reaching out for a foul and the guy is 5-2 and I'm reaching down, there's only so much more down I can go."
Artest said his suspension was not the reason the Lakers lost the series, but dubbed it "uncalled for."
"It was unfortunate, the ejection and the suspension," Artest said. "It wasn't right. It should not have happened."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
10hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins