Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thank You, Dallas Mavericks

Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks for winning the 2011 NBA championship.  This is their first in franchise history and coming off the team that beat them in '06 Finals makes this sweeter for them.  

After my Lakers got eliminated, I was rooting for the no. 8 Memphis Grizzlies to win the championship since that would be an epic underdog story-journey.  But I was not bitter at all when the Mavs were able to beat my team.  No, I saw that they have more heart than the Lakers in their series, and if the Lakers can’t have the championship this year, then the team that beat them should have it.  So, when the Grizzlies got beaten by the Oklahoma Thunder, I have no problem rooting for the Mavs next.  The Dallas Mavericks deserve this title.  They had already beaten the defending champs in the second round, thus, the championship was theirs for the taking already.  I believe my man Kobe also share the same sentiments with me.

Dirk Nowitzk will now go down in history as one of the greatest players that played this game.  He already has his All-Star and All-NBA selections.  He got his MVP.  All he needed was the validation that he’s a true winner.  And now, he’s an NBA champion and his Finals MVP is his certification that he led his team there.  One funny thing I want to point out was the different reactions between Dirk and Kobe’s game clinching performances.  Though both deserved their Finals MVP, and had been a great impact in the game-clinchers despite poor shooting performances (Dirk: 9-27 shooting, Kobe: 6-24 shooting), Dirk received praises while on the other hand Kobe mostly received criticisms when the Lakers won last year.  Comments on Dirk’s went like: “despite shooting poorly at the start, Dirk scored 10 points in the 4th quarter to lead his team to the championship.”  While on Kobe, the comments went like this: “choking in the biggest game of his career, Kobe’s teammates bailed him out and carried him to the championship.”  In spite of the fact that Kobe grabbed 15 rebounds in that game despite of being a guard and scored a game high 23 points, 10 – like Nowitzki – of which came in the 4th quarter, in the context of a gritty and epic defensive Game 7 battle where both teams shot poorly!  In Dirk’s case, it was Jason Terry who really majorly carried the offensive load in that Game 6.  Just shows how Kobe suffers from unfairness and bias of haters.

Jason Kidd, 38 years-old, and 17 years in the league finally got his title.  But he did not get it by “hitchhiking” with a good team, i.e. the Gary Payton-route.  Though past his prime, he was still a major piece and a starter in his championship-winning team.  Kidd was definitely the best point guard of the past decade (2000s).  Sorry, Steve Nash, but that’s true.  J-Kidd was better than you.  Despite of your two MVPs, you never had Kidd’s rebounding and defensive skills.  I also think that Kidd was a better passer than you, Stevie.  And now he got his much deserved ring.  Will you ever get yours?  (You might if you became a Laker next season. They really need a good point guard right now.  LOL)    

Jason “the Jet” Terry impressed me much this series.  Lamar Odom might be the Sixth-Man-of-the-Year this season, but Jet was the “Sixth-Man-of-the-Year” of the playoffs.  Coming off the bench, he was almost like a Kobe-esque gunslinger.  He was kind of badass this Finals.  He commented that the best defense he had encountered in the playoffs was Portland’s and that LeBron – an All-Defensive first team selection and who was brilliant in defending the MVP Derek Rose – won’t be able to shut him down.  And he backed those words.   Though there were times LeBron contained him, he was able to torch him most of the Finals.  I also like how Jet acknowledged God in the Mavs’ success in his interviews.

The rest of the Mavs roster was fun as well.  Tyson Chandler’s rebounding was a great help and he did some damage inside.  Former All-Stars Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic finally get their rings as well.  But I wonder why Peja never got any significant playing time in the Finals?  Could it be because his shooting expertise (he was a killer during the Laker series) couldn’t compensate for his poor defense?  But I trust Rick Carlisle had his reasons (more about him later).  Shawn Marion and Deshawn Stevenson were significant contributors in defense and also gave very important help in offense.  Along with Kidd, the three of them were Dallas’ major defensive force in slowing LeBron and D-Wade.  The starting shooting guard for the Dallas in the Finals was 5’9 J.J. Barea and the Heat couldn’t figure out how to stop the spark he gave the offense.  He was not extremely fast, but the little guy was able enough to tear up Miami’s defense.  Brian Cardinal saw some surprisingly significant playing time this playoffs.  And he was a true “garbage man”, willing to sacrifice his body in taking charges, and had the veteran smarts in how to fit in the offense.  Also take note that the Mavericks missed their starting All-Star shooting guard Caron Butler for the majority of the season and all throughout the playoffs due to injury.  This made me think how strong the Mavs could have been if Butler was healthy.  

Rick “Jim Carrey” Carlisle is sure is smart.  He was a master of rotation, match-ups, and adjustment.  He was able to assemble a perfect lineup to dictate the game or to resolve a given need, respond with strategic adjustments immediately, and was able to utilize his roster’s strengths effectively as he brought the best out of them.  The Heat’s Erik Spoelstra is a good coach, but he was definitely outcoached by Carlisle in this one.  Kudos to Carlisle.  In this Finals, the man showcased how smart he really is. 

But the fact that the Miami Heat lost is more important than the fact that the Mavs won the title.  If the Finals was between the Mavs and the Bulls, I would have still rooted for the Mavs, but I would have not cared much if the Bulls did beat the Mavs.  My desire for the Heat to lose just increased the intensity of my desire for the Mavs to win. 

This Finals, the Dallas fans were not alone in cheering for their team.  Those that rooted for the Mavs to win (or more so for the Heat to lose) was a coalition of, in addition of Mav fans, Laker fans like me (who didn’t want to see their Heat rivals to win a championship), Bulls fans, Celtic fans, Miami Heat-haters, LeBron-haters, Bosh-haters, Wade-haters (if there are such.  But this was the season we saw some of LeBron’s doucheness rubbed off on Wade, so there are probably Wade-haters now), the Federal Republic of Germany, gamblers who bet for Dallas, and – probably most important of all – the Cleveland Cavalier fans and the residents of Cleveland and Ohio.

It’s natural for good teams to be hated by others.  When a good team gets success, it would have defeated other teams to get there, breaking hearts of the fans of those teams in the process, thus, it will be hated by those teams’ fans.  Especially if that team wins over and over again throughout the years (e.g. the Los Angeles Lakers).  There will be plenty of raging, jealous hearts emerging as time passes.  Heat is a good team, it can’t be denied.  They have two of the top 5 players in the NBA, and their third option is in the top 15 or 20.  They have an awesome defense (I was really impressed by their team defense and Wade and LeBron’s individual defensive performances).  On paper, indeed, winning a championship seems easy with their talent.    But the hate for the Heat is different.  The hate for the Heat is not because of any jealous animosity for being a greatly talented team and how successful they become.  Prior the 2010-11 Season, before any success can be earned, the Miami Heat had already become the most hated team in the NBA (and probably in all of sports).  And the hate for them grew as the season progressed.  Why are they hated like this?  They are hated because it is only a natural response for an audience to hate the villains of a drama.  And that is what is happening here.  They have made it clear that they are the villains.  Consider these things: their coming together seemed to be something deviously contrived, and it didn’t help that Pat Riley, the orchestrator of this, looks and acts like Gordon Gecko;  LeBron James’ “The Decision” circus; the extravagant celebration party they threw before the season started as if they had already won the championship; the infamous and arrogant “Not 1… Not 2… Not 3… Not 4… Not 5… Not 6… Not 7…” proclamation of how many titles they will win; the sudden emergence of more Miami Heat fans (which spells B-A-N-D-W-A-G-O-N-E-R-S); the ridiculous “Fan-Up” campaign (you have 3 superstars and, still, it’s hard to fill up your arena?!  This just proves that Miami is the worst NBA team fanbase there is); crying like immature babies when they started losing during the regular season; they made ESPN their worshippers and media puppets, i.e. the Heat Index (to be fair, this is ESPN’s fault as well); their continuous display of arrogant and narcissistic behavior throughout the season and playoffs during games and interviews… plenty of reasons to hate the Heat. 

If the Heat had won, ridiculous revisionist history will be written, the arrogance and narcissism of this team will be fed instead of punished, the bandwagoners would be unjustly rewarded, and the Heat nation will have the last laugh – and an evil one that is.  Thus, the Mavs prevented all of this.  Like an epic “good vs. evil” story, the heroes won, proving that good will always triumph over evil.

And for that, along with my congratulations, I also give my heartfelt thanks to the Dallas Mavericks.  Thank you very much.  Bask in the glory and joy of this championship.  And take good care of the Larry O’Brien trophy.  The Los Angeles Lakers would be taking it back next season.   

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