Never a Dull Moment
Marcy Dull is a self-described
sports-obsessed fanatic. Marcy, 23, was
DALLAS' SECRET RECIPE
There is something to be said for ‘synergy’. That is, the idea that
“the whole is better than the sum of its parts." The NBA Finals thus
far attests to this notion. When looking at these two teams on paper
(or just looking at them in general), one would think that Miami
clearly has the upper hand. After all, they have three All-Stars on
their squad, two of whom will more than likely continue to dominate in
the league for years to come. The third has the potential to do so if
he would stop posing for dinosaur look-a-like pictures and instead
spend an afternoon in the weight room. Conversely, Dallas has a 7ft
power forward, a 5’7 point guard, and a 38yr old who they rely on for
both scoring and defense. It seems like a no-brainer. So, how has
Dallas been able to ‘beat the heat’ without a beach or a cocktail…?
Dallas’ best kept secret is its ability to function at a very high
level as a team and to seamlessly filter guys through the lineup
throughout the game. After all, their second leading scorer comes off
the bench. Their not-so-best-kept secret comes in the form of Dirk
Nowitzki. For years, Dirk has been a dominant threat in the league. He
has led the Mavericks to eleven straight playoff appearances and is a
ten-time All Star (and he’s got great hair). Perhaps, the thing that
hinders Dirk’s fame the most is his consistency and disregard for the
spotlight. Our society loves volatility and flashy-ness. We love when
a superstar has an awful outing and then comes firing back with an
explosive performance. We get bored when a player consistently scores
25pts and gets 10 boards a night. Where are the windmill dunks, the
spin moves, and the alley-oops? Similarly, NBA All-Star weekend has
evolved into 1/8 basketball, 6/8 entertainment, and 1/8 Kia
advertising vehicles for freak-like specimens to jump over. No one
wants to see people stand around and knock down 18ft jumpshots.
Dirk doesn’t want his own website, his own clothing line, or his own
shoes. Dirk doesn’t want his own reality show. He doesn’t want to
attend weekend events at Dallas nightclubs in his newest Armani suit.
Dirk wants to sink jumpers. He wants to win championships. Most
importantly and perhaps most noticeably, Dirk wants the ball in his
hands in the fourth quarter – something most would hesitate to say
about anyone in Miami’s starting lineup. With a superstar like Dirk on
your team, you want him to shine during crunch time - just like I want
Ari Gold in my corner when I am negotiating a business deal.
Dirk’s finishing ability aside, Dallas’ supporting cast is unique but
surprisingly efficient. Players who most doubt would thrive as well
anywhere else the way they do in Dallas are able to blossom in Mark
Cuban land. Shawn Marion has his swagger back from his early days in
Phoenix. JJ Barea’s effectiveness continues to impress. It’s not hard
to believe that he can put up 15pts a night, but it is hard to believe
the way in which he does it - carefully selecting shots and
capitalizing on opportunities to cut through the lane. Tyson Chandler
looks like a seasoned veteran with his composure and willingness to
make the hustle plays. Have you ever seen the way Tyson carries
himself? In his mind, he is about 40lbs more muscular than he really
is, but it’s that mentality that bleeds through in his play and shows
up on the stat sheet.
The Mavericks have taught us a lot during this post-season. Maybe you
don’t need the best superstars, the best city, or the best
pyrotechnics during pre-game warm ups. Maybe forming a team of
like-minded athletes who respect one another as well as their coach
and GM is the new recipe for success. I don’t think the Mavs will
close out the series in Game 6, but I do think they will be champions
after Game 7.
And if there was ever a reason for Dirk to do a photo-shoot, maybe he
could be convinced to model his ring for a few quick snapshots.
First things first, let me just say that this year’s NBA Finals truly could not get any more exciting (unless Allen Iverson would come back from ‘retirement’ and step over Tyrone Lue en route to an upset of LA in Game 1 in 2001). Every single game has come down to the final minutes, and the intensity and talent level of both teams is nothing short of impressive. Anybody who ever doubted that Miami would be in the finals this year is either 1. Stupid or 2. A Cavs Fan. LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach was the best thing that happened to Miami since Will Smith made that timeless hit, “Welcome to Miami”, circa 1998. Dirk’s ability to take over games in the 4th quarter and to use the same move over and over again in order to set up clutch jumpers is uncanny. He could literally tell his defender exactly what he plans to do and he would still be able to pull it off. Hey, you try to guard a 7-footer with the athleticism of a shooting guard.
Now, to the heart of the matter. The ‘LeBron’ discussion is one that I believe will continue for years to come in the sports world (as it should). Let me just say that I have always loved watching LeBron play. His game is so exciting to watch, mainly because it causes me to question over and over again whether or not he is human. Somebody his size should not be able to float around the court in the manner that he does. I had the privilege of getting to see LeBron live and up-close in quite a few games at Quicken Loans Arena when he was still in Cleveland. I saw him take on Kobe Bryant and LA twice and got to see Game 1 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against Orlando (Thanks Linny). I loved the hype, the energy of the arena, and the way the entire city ate up everything ‘LeBron’ – the way Rex Ryan would at Old Country Buffet. The atmosphere was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced and I was at Lincoln Financial Field when Michael Vick made one of his first starts as a Philadelphia Eagle.
I will always remember exactly where I was when LeBron made his ‘decision’. It is just one of those things that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Upon hearing the news, I was fairly indifferent. I wasn’t a die-hard Cavs fan (I just had a reserved seat on the bandwagon), so I wasn’t upset, and I wasn’t a Heat fan so I wasn’t excited. More or less, I was just excited to hear the news. I wonder how long it took from the time “The Decision” aired until some sports reporter wrote an article about how LeBron James had forever tainted his legacy. All of the arguments began to evolve. “He joined Dwyane Wade because he would never be able to win a title on his own," “He disrespected the entire city of Cleveland." "He is an arrogant, pompous, bleep." And the stories kept flowing and flowing.
Do I disagree with the way LeBron handled the situation and created an unnecessary media production surrounding his decision? Absolutely. Do I hate him and hope he loses every game he ever plays from now on? Absolutely not. LeBron did exactly what Cliff Lee did this past winter with the Phillies. He left his current team to earn LESS money in order to play with quality teammates and have the opportunity to win a World Series. Cliff Lee was praised and glorified for his choice, LeBron continues to be crucified for his. I understand the hurt and pain that Cleveland fans inevitably felt as a result of LeBron’s choice to leave their city. The best sports fans are emotional, loyal, and often times fanatical. However, LeBron does not “owe” you anything. He doesn’t owe you 8 more seasons in Cleveland until he can win a title and he sure as hell doesn’t owe you an apology for his choice. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the NBA is a business. And in the business world, people choose to join one corporation over another every single day for a number of different reasons. Playing basketball is LeBron’s job. It is what he is professionally trained to do. If you had no binding obligation to stay with your current company and got offered a job to work with one of your closest friends in one of the most riveting cities in the country, would you expect to be eternally reprimanded for taking it? Doubtful.
“Well, Michael Jordan didn’t leave Chicago to go to Boston and play with Larry Bird. He won them on his own." No he didn’t. He had a decent supporting cast and arguably the best head coach in NBA history. And oh yeah, in case you forgot, Michael Jordan is the best to ever play the game, so that helped him out a good deal, too. If someone asked me who was a better basketball player, Michael or LeBron, I would say Michael, without hesitation. I repeat, I would say MICHAEL JORDAN without hesitation. With that said, I HATE the Michael vs. LeBron argument. It is just stupid. Why can’t a current player be appreciated and be successful without always having to be compared to Michael? Michael has more rings than LeBron will ever have – this is true. Robert Horry also has more rings than LeBron. So do Derek Fisher and Steve Kerr. That makes them better basketball players in comparison to LeBron, got it. Michael knew how to win championships and I will never attempt to take that away from him. But LeBron doesn’t want to be Mike. He, himself, has said that he will never be Michael Jordan…and why should he be? Why can’t LeBron be LeBron? This comparison does not occur in other sports. No one knocks on LaDainian Tomlinson because his moves weren’t as crafty as Barry Sanders. No one disregards Peyton Manning because his style of play is different than that of Dan Marino. When did NBA fans mandate that only one player ever be considered ‘great’?
I am interested not only to see how the rest of the finals will unfold, but also to read every article written by every idiotic sports writer who will never credit LeBron for accomplishing anything. I am not even a huge LeBron fan. Yes, I love to watch him play, and if you fail to appreciate what he can do with a basketball then I question your appreciation for the game in general. If the Heat end up winning the series 4-2, everyone will say they should have swept them. LeBron should have averaged 35 and 10. LeBron’s shot selection was bad. LeBron turned the ball over too much. LeBron didn’t make his teammate’s better. And on and on and on and on. LeBron could average 40pts and 15 rebounds for the rest of the series and most people would find a way of accusing him of not playing hard enough to put up these numbers in the first three games. By making the decision he made, he has forever tainted his legacy. Not because it deserves to be tainted, but because everyone believes it should be. If he ends up winning 7 championships (one more than MJ), everyone will say he should have won 8. I don’t want everyone to love LeBron. I just think people are ignorant for hating him because of his decision. Hate him because you’re a Boston fan. Hate him because you are an Orlando fan. Hate him because every time he comes to your city he lights your favorite team up for 40 pts. Don’t hate him because he is doing what he loves in a city he loves with people he enjoys playing with. I should also mention that I am a Kobe fan, but we won’t go there today….