I'm happy for the Dallas Mavericks, for Dirk Nowitzki, and for Mark Cuban, the most entertaining owner in the NBA (who behaved with unexpected decorum last night). No, I actually am. It's not just the They Beat The Evil Spoiled Brat Empire-in-the-Making of Miami, although that is a huge part of it. I'm happy to see another hard-working foreign star finally get the credit he's due. I'm glad the "choker" mantle has been lifted from Dirk, because I'm not sure if God Himself, or Michael Jordan, could have beaten Dwyane Wade AND the refs in 2006. Last night, despite starting 1-12, despite Miami shooting 17 more FTs, despite a narrative that demanded a 7th game, Dirk and Dallas closed Miami out. They took their team to South Beach and left The Talent reeling, defeated and petulant.
Of course Dallas fans will be insufferable when we play the Mavs next season. Of course they will. But ask yourself, how much more insufferable can they be? The decent ones will still be decent, the jerks will still be jerks and the bandwagon fans will say things like "Houston has never won a championship!" so you'll know to ignore every single word they say for the rest of their blighted, sad, existence.
Also, as much or little as it pains me, can we get this "No dominant team in the NBA, that's why Dallas won" BS out of the way and never speak of it again? The NBA had 7 "dominant" teams, and between Dallas and Miami they defeated all but one of them. First, Miami had home court because they were one game better than Dallas in terms of record. Miami was one game better in the Eastern Conference, the conference that would have seen the stay-at-home Rockets as a 6th seed. Dallas didn't even have the best record in their own division. Let me repeat that, Dallas, one game "worse" than Miami in the regular season, was 2nd best in the Southwest. What does that tell you? It tells you the Western Conference is, as if you didn't know, a meat grinder of excellent teams.
The Mavs dispatched Portland, the most resilient team in the playoffs in the same time it took to beat Miami. They swept Los Angeles. Let's stress that, they swept the former NBA Champions, who put basically the same team on the floor as last year. Except Kobe was wearing down. Well, he should, he's played 20 seasons or something, worth of hoops already. Then the Mavs beat OKC, the darlings of the press, with two rising young stars, and a fine supporting cast. Then they beat a team that took care of the best of the East, Boston and Chicago. Chicago could have won, but didn't have the ability to close. Dallas closed everything at the first opportunity, 4-0 in close out games. They never faltered in tight games, came back from miles back in several, and Nowitski was deadly in the 4th. As predicted, (somewhere or other) Miami got its "Jason Terry Game" last night. Sucks, doesn't it, Heat "fans"? Sorry pundits, there IS a dominant team in the NBA. It's Dallas, and they proved it on the court.
Will this change the narrative of "You must have superstars to win!!!!!!". No, probably not. After all, it's easy to see how the superstars might have won it all. They were in the Finals, after all.
But, What Does It All Mean? Well, what does it all mean for the Rockets anyway? As I see it, this is an extremely hopeful result. This is a result that shows that excellent team play, unselfishness, coaching, defense and a good bench can carry the day against the biggest stars in the game. And Dallas didn't miss many stars on their trip, did they? Kobe, Gasol, Durant, Westbrook, Aldridge, Wade, James, Bosh - Dallas and their one star brought them all low.
Does Dallas have any stars other than Nowitzki? Is their roster miles ahead of what the Rockets are, or can become in short order? I don't think so. Only Dirk is ahead of his Rocket counterparts, and that's not from his shooting, but from his ability to finish through contact at the rim, something Houston profoundly lacks (until Patterson and Williams get it going anyway). If anything, Dallas, with its aging stars, show that sheer veteran bloody-mindedness has value, that chemistry and consistency has value. Dallas choked nothing away, they stole games instead, and I'm not sure young players can do that so well. But that brings us to another point about Dallas - they've been grinding out 50 win seasons seemingly forever, with no titles until now. That may be the price of not having all the stars, of not being a destination for entitled young superfriends. Dallas has showed that the result needn't be failure, and Rockets fans should take heart.
[Note by Xiane, 06/13/11 2:12 PM CDT ] I'm in the chilly wilds of Oregon, so posts may be fewer, but make no mistake, I'm still around. Have a great summer.