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MAV-NIFICENT: Dallas clinches the NBA Title in Miami
The Dallas Mavericks were able to get the monkey of their back with a 105-95 victory over the favored Miami Heat, capturing their first championship in franchise history. After a stinging loss to the Heat in the 2006 finals, Dallas proved to be the better team in 2011.
First of all, let's not ignore the elephant sitting in the corner. Can we please stop with the comparisons? After watching the Heat rip through the Celtics and the Bulls during their impressive run in the playoffs, almost every sports media outlet, from bloggers, to Scottie Pippen to the mother ship ESPN, were proclaiming Lebron James to be the next Michael Jordan. Stop it already! The argument is getting tired and stale. Last year it was Kobe, now its Lebron, and next year when Derrick Rose wins his first, he will get the unenviable position of the comparison. Let me write this real slow, so people who either don't know basketball or maybe just started watching basketball, can understand. None of these guys are Michael, nor ever will be. Kobe is the closest in the game today, and even he is not in Michael's league. He is still Kobe Bryant, which is pretty damn good.
The same goes for Lebron. Let me emphatically state, I am not a Lebron James hater. I have admired him since his high school days at St. Vincent in Ohio, and I think he is a tremendous talent, who has many more championship finals ahead of him. Even though he will receive the brunt of the blame for this series loss, He is not the only reason the Heat lost this year. Like most basketball fans outside of the greater Miami area, I was disgusted by the whole, " I'm taking my talents to South Beach" and ," Not one, not two , not three, four, five, six championships, blah, blah, blah."
All that aside, having no dog in this fight, I was prepared to sit and watch a seven game series, that had the play of Nowitzki versus Lebron's game written all over it. Sitting here listening to the pundits foretell the coming of a new King, made me realize how silly some fans are, but it also gave me an anticipation of watching James take his place amongst the pantheon of NBA greats. Win or lose I expected to see greatness. Well, I did see greatness. I saw Nowitzki, and I saw Wade, but James' constant disappearing act, particularly in the fourth quarter of these games has me both befuddled and vexed.
I admit it, I am a selfish sports fan. I demand greatness, when the chips are down. I lust for defining moments, I live vicariously through these achievements, I know I'm sick. I am a shallow, analytical being, when it come to watching sports championships. All I want as a fan, is for you to be at your best, when the game is on the line. I know That James is better than this, and it is annoying to watch him just whither under the weight of the moment. It happened last year, in game five of the playoffs against the Celtics, and it happened again this year against Dallas in the finals. Lebron has many lessons to learn about becoming a champion.
First of all, stop it with the ridiculous grimaces and flexing when you dunk the basketball. Could you ever imagine Michael, Magic or Larry doing that? Play the game with respect and the game will respect you back. Yeah I know, that's the way of the world with these new jacks, I get it, Look at me, aint I great? Well honestly, no you're not. You are very good, just not great.....yet. Secondly, I would like to see him become more selfish, in the fourth quarter. The great ones want, NO, they demand the ball. The problem is that because of James' versatility, he seems to be unsure what to do with the ball in crunch time. I always feel like he is in a constant emotional tug of war, between being a facilitator or a scorer. Becoming one of the all-time greats, means you take the ball to the rack and score. If that isn't possible you take the ball to the rack, and draw the foul, to get your points on the foul line. You don't succumb to hoisting up jumpers and three pointers, or even worse, standing around watching Dwayne.
The good news if you are a Miami fan, is that this will probably be the worst Heat team for the next five years. It is painfully apparent that this team needs a true point guard, and some help on the bench, especially in the frontcourt. Team president Pat Riley will make the necessary adjustments to this roster, and they will only get better. The future of the franchise is bright, but James may have an even more tumultuous off-season than last year, with all of the warranted and unwarranted criticism that is sure to follow him this summer.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, it remains to be seen, whether this championship final will be remembered for Dallas' win or Miami's downfall. I find this to be as unfair to them, as comparing the new NBA flavor to Michael Jordan. There have been very few teams who have been as consistent as the Mavs, since the turn of the century.
Year after year, the Mavericks have put up the regular season wins, with nothing but early playoff exits, to show for it. The loss in 2006 to Miami for the championship, was especially painful, and many doubted if the team would ever be able to escape the shadow of the Lakers and the Spurs in the west.
The big difference between the two series was Dirk Nowitzki, then and now. In 2006, after taking a two games to none lead, Nowitzki folded like a cheap suit. My lasting image of that championship was watching Dirk, having a childish tantrum entering the teams locker room, kicking chairs. Fortunately for the chair, Dirk was so soft back then, that the chair didn't feel the love taps.
However, this is the new and improved Nowitzki, and Lebron would be smart to follow in his footsteps. Instead of deferring, Nowitzki took matters in his own hands. In game 2, with Miami on the brink of a two game lead, and seconds left on the clock. Nowitzki took the ball straight at Chris Bosh, and finished off the game with a decisive game winning shot. In the fourth quarter of games he was taking the ball to the basket, looking for the fouls and the bucket. Ahhh now there is the greatness I am looking for. He really gets it.
The Mavs, who have been lambasted for their lack of defense through the years, was tremendous throughout the series, and really seemed to bear down late in games. They reduced fast break opportunities, and contained the Heat to a half court game. Once in the half court game, they kept the Heat out of the paint, by forcing them into jump shot situations, with pressure. They will never be compared to the Bulls or Spurs championship teams when it comes to defense, but it was a successful scheme that Miami played right into, and it was very instrumental in winning the title.
The Mavericks have traveled a long and weary road, that began to change when the franchise was bought by Mark Cuban. The charismatic owner turned the culture of losing around, and suffered the growing pains along the way with Dirk. Now they sit atop of the basketball world, etched in time as champions. And no one, not even the mighty David Stern can ever take that from them. Although Cube and Stern have had their confrontations through the years, there appeared to be mutual respect, at the trophy presentation. In an act of pure class, Mark Cuban allowed the Mavericks founder and initial owner Donald Carter to be the first one to touch The Larry O'Brien trophy.
As a fan of the great game of basketball, I can only say the better team won. They played both sides of the ball well throughout the postseason. They played hard and with passion. I will remember Dirk and Jet Terry, who never forgot that sickening feeling of 2006, and were finally about to rid themselves of the stench that has followed them. Future Hall Of Famer, Jason Kidd, who was originally drafted by the team back in the laughingstock days of 1994. After a 17 year career, and two losses in the NBA Finals, is now winding down his career where it started, with a well deserved ring. Trash heap outcast like Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler. And of course Coach Rick Carlisle, who has had success coaching the Pistons and the Pacers, but always seems to come up short himself. In a nutshell, that is the story of the Dallas Mavericks. A renegade owner, with his band of unwanted coaches, unwanted players and the baddest power forward in the game.
From Dallas, Texas to Wurzburg, Germany, the Maverick faithful have much to cheer.
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