Sunset In Miami: Dallas Wins The NBA Title

 ~ Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd can finally say they have one. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic can finally say it. Jason Terry can finally say it. They can all  now look at each other and say that they now have a NBA championship.The Dallas Mavericks defeat the Miami Heat to become 2010-2011 NBA Champions. Miami now heads home for what will be a very long summer vacation, especially for LeBron James.

 

The Miami Heat went into the 4th quarter of Game 6 down by 9 points to the Dallas Mav’s. If it would have been Dallas down by 9, I really wouldn’t pay much attention to it. I know the chances are pretty good they are going to put themselves right back into a position to win the game. However, it was Miami that needed a 4th quarter comeback. The way this series went, for that to happen wouldn’t have been a smart wager.

 

 

The Role Players Step Up And Then The Superstars Step In

 

Dirk Nowitzi was not spectacular, far from it. He was 1 for 12 shooting the ball in the first half. It was what happened during that stretch which ultimately led to final score of this game. While Dirk was struggling to score, the role players for Dallas were picking him up. JJ Barea found his groove once he was put into the starting lineup and Miami couldn’t keep him out the paint. It was the outstanding shooting performance of Jason Terry though that kept Dallas afloat. Terry saved his biggest performance of the series for the elimination game. 19 big points in the first half, 27 points for the game. It was Terry’s shooting that allowed Dallas to continue running their normal offense. It paid off as Nowitzki came up with big shots in the 4th quarter to help put the game away and secure a championship.

 

Everything Dallas was in this series, Miami wasn’t. The Mav’s hustled harder, they fought harder, and they flat out outplayed the Heat in every important aspect of the game. That’s hard to imagine when two elite players are on one team. It’s harder to imagine when that team has the best 3rd option in the league. It’s exactly what happened though.

 

 

Winners Must Endure Adversity

 

 

This series was basically over after the back to back 4th quarter performances of LeBron James in games 4 and 5. The Miami Heat lost this series because James did not respond to the adversity that was thrown at him. As talented as this team is, they only get this far because of the play of Wade, Bosh, and James. The moment was there for James to grab when the efforts of Wade wasn’t enough.

 

James had moment after moment to establish himself as an elite player that belonged on the biggest stage. He was nowhere near the dominant player the fans have come to expect of him. James was indecisive, passive, and too quick to defer to the next player instead of letting his natural talent take over. It cost him a championship this season. It may also cost him further damage to the global icon status he is trying to build for himself.

 

LeBron James is in his 9th year in the league. That’s hard to imagine because he’s still so young. To be a winner, facing adversity and overcoming it is a must.He took Cleveland to the Finals in 2007 and they were swept by the Spurs. He couldn’t get them back to the Finals, finishing his time there on a losing note that’s best remembered for his final home game in Cleveland against Boston. In that game it looked as if James already had one foot out of the door and ultimately led him to Miami to team with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh. 12 months worth of mostly public backlash later, James came up short again when it mattered most and when adversity is confronting him.

 

 

What happens to Miami from here on will be a point of conversation for weeks to come. Wade and James are the foundation of the team and as long as that’s the case, Miami will be title contenders. They had chemistry problems this season and that played a big part in their inconsistent play throughout the regular season. Wade and James must find a way to take the next step together as leaders of this team. Bosh has to find a way to get involved in the offense more. The supporting cast must be improved over the summer.

 

Whereas Miami took a step backwards in their pursuit of “multiple championships”, Dallas took full advantage of their time in the spotlight. This team wasn’t built for multiple championships. This was their moment. Kidd, Marion, Terry, and Stojakovic endured years of falling short in the playoffs as stars on their past teams. They embraced their role as supporting cast members while Dirk Nowitzki was the headliner. If there was any doubt left about Nowitzki being a big time superstar, it was erased in the playoffs this year. He led Dallas on comeback after comeback and dazzled everyone with his shooting. His mental toughness showed when he got hurt, sick, and eventually hit a shooting slump at the worst possible time. Dirk not only took on adversity, he embraced the challenge with the heart and determination of a champion.

 

This is a team that went the second half of the season without it’s Caron Butler. Butler was a big loss on offense and defense for the Mav’s. They overcame that to make the playoffs, run through Portland, sweep the defending champion Lakers, and hold off Oklahoma City to reach the Finals.

 

The Dallas Mavericks took their talents to South Beach and now head back to Texas with the trophy. When the moment comes, you have to be prepared for it. You never know when you’ll have that moment again. Dallas confronted the moment and ran with it, Miami was confronted by the moment and ran away from it.

The Heat Is On … LeBron James Is Running Out of Time

 ~ June 9th, 2011 may go down as the most important night in the professional career of LeBron James. If it turns out not to be the most important night, for James it better come very close. One thing is for certain and that’s after his latest no show in the NBA Finals, James is once again at a crossroads.

The Miami Heat and James find themselves in a 2-2 series tie with the Dallas Mavericks after a tough Game 4 loss. Dallas did what they have been doing throughout the playoffs, hang around just enough until the 4th Quarter and then come from behind to steal the win.

The gameplan for the Mav’s has been simple and time tested. The role players step up and the superstar steps in. That superstar being Dirk Nowitzki. That’s pretty much how it goes in the NBA. Now if only someone can tell LeBron James he is a superstar and not a role player, he’d be at least 1 game from a championship instead of 2 games from either a championship or the longest summer of his life.

James has created a lot of this on himself. He went to Miami to win championships and there is nothing wrong with that. It was how he went to Miami that made him public enemy number 1. His performance throughout his career to this point has followed that route. It’s never what James does that puts him in the crossfires of critics, it’s how he does it. His Game 4 performance only fueled the fire of his critics: Read more of this post

The NBA Finals: Dallas vs Miami … Chemistry & Confidence To Be A Champion

~ The NBA grand stage is set for the final performance of the 2010-2011 season. 16 teams came in and 2 teams are now left to battle for the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks took completely different paths to get to this point. However, Miami and Dallas both have what it takes to take that final step. They both have the chemistry and the confidence to secure a championship and it didn’t happen overnight.

I could easily turn this post into a statistics-filled post that could explain why and how Miami or Dallas could win. The bottom line is that to make it to this point, it takes a lot more than the stats.

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were dismissed this year by Dallas in the 2nd round. The Mav’s then took out the young and talented Oklahoma City Thunder.

Miami took out last year’s runner up to the title, the Boston Celtics in the 2nd round. This was followed by eliminating this year’s MVP Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls.

The Heat and the Mav’s have what the Lakers, Thunder, Celtics, and Bulls struggled to maintain. Chemistry and confidence that must go along with the statistics everyone uses to justify teams needing to win.

The confidence a team needs to win does not come before the chemistry needed to turn a collection of talented individuals into a winning team.

Team chemistry does not just happen as soon as a team is put together, it takes time to develop. There is going to be conflict and egos are either going to be put aside or bruised along the way. The price to pay for bad chemistry can set a team back years in some cases.

Miami was expected to be in this position when they put LeBron James and Chris Bosh together with Dwyane Wade last summer. They learned this season through ups and downs that while talent can put a team into a conversation, it takes more to become the conversation.

 

Miami has 3 of the top superstars in the league today … 2 plus 1 really good basketball player in Bosh, depending on the conversation;  surrounded by a mix of role players either in their prime or past it. They have the potential in place to launch a dynasty. That’s just what it is though, it’s potential. Potential buys the groceries, it does not prepare the meal.

Dallas does not have 3 superstars, they only have 1 and that’s Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki has been great in this post season. His performance against the Thunder to get Dallas to the Finals should go down as nearly legendary when we look back on it. However, it’s what Dallas has done this year to surround Nowitzki with the talent he needed to get back to the Finals.

 

Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and Peja Stojakovic. These are three players who have not only each had individual success in their careers, they are also into the sunset of their careers. They have stepped up and allowed for Nowitzki to play to the level he is right now.

 Dallas took a major roll of the dice to bank on three well seasoned NBA veterans to play major roles in a championship run this year. You throw Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler into the mix and the hustle of JJ Barea and the gamble has paid off to this point.

These are two teams that would not be anywhere near the Finals right now if not for how well the team chemistry has come together. When the playoffs started, how many can really say that Dallas or Miami were sure things to get to this point? The Mav’s because of their age and question marks about their roster and Miami because of their struggles to incorporate the talents of Wade and James on the court together.

Which team is going to win this series? What’s guranteed is that this will be a great one and that it’s too close to really call. Miami looks like it has figured out the proper balance of James and Wade. Bosh is now embracing his role as the 3rd weapon. The superstars are going do their part to make this a great series. Miami has the younger legs and Wade and James are the two best players on the floor.

If there ever was a key for Dallas to win this series, it will be their bench and their depth. If Miami figures out a way to deny Nowitzki enough to limit him from going off, someone else on Dallas will have to step up.

I think this series will go seven games and that would be great for the league, the fans, and definitely the media networks. What Dallas has been able to do in the playoffs has been amazing. However, Miami is peaking at the right time and I don’t see them losing a Game 7 for the championship on their home court.

Miami in 7 games over Dallas.

 If Dallas wins, it gets Nowitzki, Terry, Kidd, Marion, and Peja the championship they have chased all of their careers and have fell short to reach. If Miami wins, it could possibly launch a new sports dynasty to talk about for years to come. It also would give LeBron James the championship he needs to offically launch the discussion of where he stands among the NBA’s all-time elite.

Two teams, two different paths to get to this stage. It took talent and skill at it’s highest level. They both have that. Between Miami and Dallas, at least 4 of the players on the court are future hall of famers. The chemistry is there and because of that, the confidence is there as well.

These 2 teams met in the Finals in 2006 and even though Miami won that year, those were 2 completely different teams. This wont be the start of a new NBA rivalry for years to come like Lakers-Celtics. For this year though, we as fans get to sit back and enjoy what should be a great battle on the grand stage.

Dallas 4 Wins Away From The Elusive Goal, OKC Not Ready For Prime Time

 

~ This series had the potential to go seven games, it only went five. The Oklahoma City Thunder had the potential to make the NBA Finals, they came up three wins short. Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks for returning to the NBA Finals for the 1st time since 2006. The Mav’s knocked off the Thunder 4 games to 1 to win the series and move on. They now await the winner of the Miami-Chicago series over in the Eastern Conference finals.

For the Thunder, lessons will hopefully be learned from this series. They are a very young team that had their youth exposed in this series thanks to a series of late game mental mistakes in Games 4 and 5.

 OKC blew a 15 point lead with 5 minutes to play in Game 4 and it cost them in overtime. In game 5 they blew a 6 point lead with a little over 4 minutes left to play. They are now headed home for the summer.

What the Thunder are going to have to determine for next season is who exactly is the point guard. This team was repeatedly outplayed in their half-court offensive sets and looked lost at times on what play to run next. This played a big part in their 4th quarter collapses in Games 4 and 5.

 As good and talented as Russell Westbrook is, with the exception of his triple-double performance that helped knock out the Grizzlies, Westbrook was an enigma for this series against the Mav’s. Is he going to be a point guard? Is he a combo-guard?  He’s also still growing up and the Thunder should hope that he will only grow from this series.

 OKC has a solid 1-2 punch with Westbrook and Kevin Durant. The Kendrick Perkins trade didn’t exactly work out the way it was intended. They did though see James Harden take a step forward this season. Many said this team arrived to the big stage a year too early. If that’s the case, and it looked like it was, next season the pressure will definitely be on for this Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team.

 The Mav’s move on and right now it is hard to pick against them winning the championship right now. Dirk Nowitzki is playing at his highest level right now and badly wants and needs a NBA title to put a stamp on his legacy. His Game 4 performance against OKC was historic and his go ahead three pointer with a little over a  minute to go in Game 5 helped put the Thunder away.

 It’s all coming together for a team that looks like a who’s who of flashbacks from post season’s past failures.Long time Phoenix Sun Shawn Marion has never been to the Finals. All his Suns teams did was make the playoffs while he was there.

 Peja Stojakovic is headed to the Finals. Peja was such a huge part of the success for those Sacramento Kings playoff teams.

 Jason Terry was with Nowitzki on that 2006 Finals team that loss to the Miami Heat.

 Jason Kidd gets a chance to add to his legacy as one of the greatest point guards in history. Kidd has emerged as a clutch shooter as well and provided Dallas with something the Thunder did not have on the floor, leadership.

 These are all players who are looking to make up for years worth of playoff shortcomings. They know that this maybe the last chance they’ll get. Thats what makes it all the more special that they are all playing so well right now at the right time. 4 wins away from a championship they have chased for so long as individuals. They have a chance to secure it as a team.

Hiring Mike Brown Is The Right Move For The Lakers

 

~ The Lakers are reportedly ready to bring in their 22nd head coach in team history. For Mike Brown, what a difference a year makes. For fans of The Los Angeles Lakers, when Phil Jackson stepped away as head coach, how many of them could have possibly seen this coming? Coming out of nowhere to emerge as the leading canidate for the job, Brown is expected to be offically named the new head coach of the Lakers. This is indeed a stunning move, however it is also the right move.

 Mike Brown isn’t going to be another Phil Jackson. He is not flashy or smooth like a Pat Riley. He does not teach the game like a Larry Brown or even a Hubie Brown for that matter. What Brown does bring to the Lakers is intangibles that none of the other canidates the Lakers targeted could bring at this time.

The 41 year old Brown led the Cleveland Cavaliers to two 60-win seasons and the NBA finals one time. Those teams were led by a superstar and elite player, LeBron James. He inherits a Lakers team that is led by a superstar and elite player, Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers are a team that’s defense was badly exposed in this year’s playoffs. They couldn’t rotate at all and at times looked completely lost while being swept out of the playoffs by Dallas. Brown is a defense-first coach.

The isssue being argued by many fans of the Lakers is that it’s Mike Brown replacing the great Phil Jackson. The saying goes that you’re only as good as your last performance. For Brown, it was a year ago that his Cav’s were bounced from the playoffs and set off 12 months of change with LeBron James leaving for Miami and Brown losing his job almost as soon as he got off the team plane back from Boston.

First of all, no one is going to replace what Phil Jackson has done. It didn’t work with the Bulls in the 90’s and Tim Floyd. It didn’t work for the Lakers either with Rudy Tomjanovich. At some point, the time comes when you have to reinvent yourself. It’s no different for a professional basketball team.

 For all the criticism that Mike Brown will get during his transition into taking this job, Brown is a good basketball coach. He went to the playoffs in every year he coached the Cav’s. (5 seasons)

Did he have an elite basketball player? Yes. He also didn’t have very much else to work with either.

In Brown’s 5 seasons as Cav’s coach, the organization didn’t exactly surround LeBron James with many 2nd or 3rd options like Kobe Bryant has had with Paul Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum. An aging Shaquille O’Neal and an inconsistent Mo Williams don’t count.

 Brown made mistakes as Cav’s coach and his rotation moves were questionable. However, he did what he could with what he had and wisely ran everything through his one star player.  He now gets a clean start, just like the Lakers get a chance at a clean start.

Brown reportedly will sign a contract for four years and $18.2 million dollars. As good a track record as Brown has a defensive minded coach, he’ll need to establish quickly what his offensive gameplan will be for the Lakers.

 This is a team that definitely wants to get back to running up and down the court and entertaining the fans. A lot will depend on what the Lakers do this summer to rebuild around Bryant. Does Gasol, Odom, and Bynum stay with the team? Do they begin to make plans to go after Dwight Howard?

 This Laker team needed to turn the page after bowing out to Dallas this year. The team needed a facelift and Mike Brown will help provide them a new idenity on defense as well. For both sides, it’s the right move at the right time.

The NBA Should Have Suspended Joakim Noah For Anti-Gay Slur

 

~ Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls has been fined $50,000 for directing an anti-gay slur towards a fan during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat. Noah did admit to the use of the slur and apologized for it as well. Clearly, he knew an expensive fine from the league was on the way. What Noah should’ve gotten along with that fine was a 1 game suspension.

Throughout the playoffs, the NBA has produced PSAs about the use of slurs regarding race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.  Kobe Bryant of the Lakers in a game towards the end of the regular season was caught on national television using a gay slur in the direction of an NBA referee.

 NBA players all saw what happened, and agree or disagree with it, they know what the punishment is going to be if they get caught.

Bryant was fined $100,000 for his actions, so Noah didn’t even get punished to that extent. The fact that Noah’s incident occured so soon after Bryant’s though clearly shows a lack of discipline just as much as it showed a lack of professionalism on his part.

I understand this is basketball and trash talk on and off the court is apart of the game. It’s a very emotional game. Professional athletes have to endure the bad from the fans just as much as they love the good from them. Those bad times can be a test of ones composure. The reality of the situation though is these are also professionals that we are talking about. They are being compensated a lot of money to play this game and should be held accountable for their actions.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) wasted no time to reach out to the NBA about the Noah incident. It did the same with Kobe Bryant.

 Everyone knows going up against GLAAD is not a battle any image-conscious multi-million or multi-billion dollar business would want to take on. It’s a pubilc relations nightmare.The league wasted no time and handed out fines to Bryant and Noah the next day after their incidents.

Giving players a fine for rule violations is one thing, however when it becomes a repeat offense is when it gains the potential to become a pattern. Thats an expensive risk to take for the player, that player’s team, and the league that the team and the player represent. If the message did not get across the first time, what do you do next? Fine the player again? These are multi-million dollar athletes we are talking about!

Eventually a message has to be sent from employer to employee that clearly gets across that certain things just can’t be tolerated. Most fans who have regular 9 to 5 jobs would have been terminated by their employers for that type of conduct. The punishment has to be one where other employees know that such behavior will never be accepted.

I’m not saying Joakim Noah should lose his job. Professional Sports operates a little differently than Corporate America. The tolerance lever is higher. However in this case, the punishment did not fit the crime and a strong enough message was not sent out to the rest of the league.

Fighting had become such a major issue in the league to the point where the Commissioner implemented a stronger punishment for players who were seen leaving the bench to involve themselves. Leave the bench …  it’s now an automatic 1 game suspension … not up for debate. It’s now time for the league to make another major statement. If a player is seen on camera making anti – gay slurs or gestures, don’t just fine them for it anymore … suspend them from their next game.

In the case of Joakim Noah, the punishment would have cost him not only $50,000 it would have also cost him the next playoff game. Noah would have realized that because of his unprofessionalism the team would be punished right along with him.

Here is the reality of the situation as it stands now …

The cameras are always watching the players. They are watching as soon the players step onto the court. Noah is young, however that’s no excuse. The use of Anti-Gay Slurs has been a hot topic across the country for years now. The NBA is realizing just how hot a topic it really is.

NBA Playoffs > ( Video) Kevin Durant With The Monster Dunk On Brendan Haywood!

~ Kevin Durant Leaves Peja Stojakovic Standing And Proceeds To Throw Down What Could Be The Dunk Of The 2011 Playoffs So Far. Not One of Brendan Haywood’s Better Moments In The League … Throw It Down KD!!

%d bloggers like this: