So here’s what I learned from the NBA this season:
1.As good as “Superfriends” are for star value and interest in the league they do not make for a good championship team.
For all of the hoopla made about the Miami Heat and their incredible acquisitions of Chris Bosh and LeBron James who else did they add to provide a spark off of the bench and to be a beast on the inside? Spending money on 3 high-priced free agents and not adding any role players that could give them consistent play ended up killing them in the end. They added over the hill bums in Juwan Howard and Zydrunas Ilgauskus to roam the middle and neither made a dent in these finals nor did James Jones or Eddie House.
The proper blueprint to building a champion is by making your team effective and competitive one through twelve on the floor…
Just like the Dallas Mavericks.
There is nothing glamorous about the Mavs; there was no need for glamour either. They had a big dog in Dirk Nowitzki, great secondary scoring in Caron Butler and Jason Terry, a big man to handle the low post in Tyson Chandler and spark plugs off of the bench in JJ Barea and Shawn Marion.
But when injuries happened to Butler and other scoring threat Roddy Beaubois look what happened; Deshawn Stevenson stepped into the starting lineup and provided great defense and timely three point shooting, Barea became a big threat scoring the ball and driving people crazy, Jason Kidd and Peja Stojakovic knocked down timely threes, and in the case of the Finals when backup center Brendan Haywood went down little used Ian Manhimi and Brian Cardinal gave them key minutes and make plays.
One through twelve Dallas had a remedy for what ailed them, Miami didn’t.
2. The best players in the league play their best when it matters.
I’m pretty sure I’ve waxed poetically about the differences between Dirk and LeBron all postseason but here’s the last tidbit.
In game six entering the second half Dirk Nowitzki shot 1-12 (yet somehow Dallas was up by 2 at the half, thank you Jason Terry). Dirk could’ve packed it in and got hesitant… instead he finished 9-27 with 21 points including 10 in the fourth quarter that put Dallas ahead and they never looked back.
LeBron James started off great by hitting his first four shots and then he disappeared, again.
James finished with 21 points just like Dirk and shot better than Dirk at 9-15, but his aggressiveness, and heart weren’t in it after those first four shots hit. When the Heat were struggling offensively he went back to the passive, hide in the corner, “I don’t want any part of this” King James.
The most telling part about how truly unreliable James is in key moments came in the second half when Mario Chalmers (who balled out in this series by the way) had a 2-on-2 with James on his right and two Dallas defenders bearing down on him. Instead of passing to James he took it himself.
And that ends that conversation right there.
3. Good things come to those who wait.
Jason Kidd waited 17 years, was snubbed for two MVP’s and lost two finals before winning this one as a key role player.
Shawn Marion waited 12 years and changed his style from the run and gun Phoenix Suns to a more defensively minded player who shut down the games most athletic player in James.
Jason Terry waited 12 years and got over the heartbreak of 2006.
Rick Carlisle fought through being fired by the Pistons (Mike Brown style after winning 110 games in 2 years) and fired by the Pacers (couldn’t get them over the hump) and won with his least talented team.
And Dirk Nowitzki stayed in Dallas through all of the heartbreak, disappointment, let downs and watched other players win titles around him while he, arguably one of the top 10 players of all-time, stayed and stuck with Mark Cuban through it all and finally has a ring to call his own.
And he didn’t have to jump ship to do it.
4. LeBron James is a joke.
Scottie Pippen said that James could be better than Michael Jordan, Pippen should have his credentials revoked.
The truth is that James is not the best player in the league, he is not the chosen one, he is not a King, he is more Prince John from Robin Hood or Kind Richard III from Shakespeare lore, a spoiled brat who wants everything his way and wants everyone to do the work for him while he stands and watches.
After watching James shy away from late game drama, put every ounce of pressure on Dwyane Wade’s shoulders and watch him get owned by Terry on the offensive end (mind you James is 6 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than Terry) we should finally realize that he is the furthest thing from Michael Jordan. In fact Jordan should punch someone in the face if they mention he and James in the same breathe again.
Jordan wouldn’t have mocked his opponent on camera (especially if he went 3-11 with 8 points the night before. Jordan wouldn’t have done that either.) . Jordan Wouldn’t allowed his team to lose 3 fourth quarter leads en route to defeat. Jordan wouldn’t have disappeared in the Finals in four straight games. Jordan in defeat wouldn’t have blasted the haters by saying that they will go back to their miserable lives while he maintains his status as king.
James also became a running joke for his terrible play. There have been jokes about him not having a fourth when you need change for a dollar, that the people of Dallas were let out of work 12 minutes early and they called it “King James Day.”
No self-respecting superstar would’ve allowed this to happen to him and downgrade his character while he sat there and smirked.
James did. He is no King.
5. In the end everything works itself out.
Miami thought that they would waltz to the crown in a haze of wine and roses. Many thought that the Bulls and Thunder’s youth and athleticism would guide them to victory, the Lakers size, or maybe the Celtics and Spurs experience.
However, it was the Mavericks who truly had the proper tools to win it all.
They didn’t have to make a trade or acquire a big name. They had the big men, the bench and the perfect mix of experience and youth. They had the best coaching and the best closer in the game in Nowitzki.
When people were making predictions at the beginning of the playoffs the Mavs were an afterthought. They were supposed to fall to Portland’s athleticism, they didn’t have the experience or guts of the Lakers, they couldn’t keep up with the Thunder, and the Heat were on mission.
Wrong to the fourth my friend.
The Mavs had the perfect mix and stuck it to their opponents at every turn whether it was Barea mashing on the Lakers, Kidd and Marion holding down Kevin Durant or Dirk leading the Mavs back from the depths of despair.
They truly were the best TEAM in the NBA this year. As the finals seconds ticked down, the championship hats were passed around and Dirk headed to the locker to shed a few tears at the end of his long and hard journey it was clear that the best team and the right team won.
No preseason celebrations, no “Decisions” no “Superfriends,” just a great group of guys from one to twelve.
Just as it has been and just as it should be.