Mavericks Win NBA Championship, World Rejoices.
The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship last night, but more importantly, the Miami Heat lost the NBA championship. Aside from maybe the Bad Boy Piston teams of the early 90’s, the Heat are one of the most hated franchises in professional sports history. They’re like a villanous stable in wrestling that the fans love to boo. It’s one of the weirder situations I’ve ever seen, but it did make the season a lot more compelling. Everyone loves a good villain.
I was thrilled that the Mavericks won for a couple reasons. Yeah, “The Decision” rubbed me the wrong way, as it did most rational people. Yeah, the whole introductory party thing where Wade, Bosh, and James were lifted up to the arena via hydraulics like some goofy rock band was annoying. Yeah, the arrogance of predicting eight championships without having played a game was downright infuriating. But I think the thing that annoyed me the most about the Heat and the way they went about things was their general belief that they deserved to win an NBA championship.
Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, touched on this via his Twitter account. He wrote, “Congrats to Mark C.&entire Mavs org. Mavs NEVER stopped &now entire franchise gets rings. Old Lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.” That’s a very valid point. The idea that LeBron James thinks that the Heat, simply by putting together three very good players, are automatically entitled to multiple championships is absurd.
At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got Dirk Nowitzki, a guy who has been with the same franchise for 13 years now, has gone through all kinds of struggles but stuck it out with the team and finally brought home a championship for his team. Success tastes much sweeter when you know what failure tastes like, as they say, and Dirk definitely has had his share of failures. Obviously the 2006 Finals, when they blew a 2-0 lead to the Heat comes to mind. The debacle against Golden State a year later was another disastrous moment in Dirk’s career and it led to a slew of analysts and fans decrying him as “not a winner” and “soft.” Those labels are hopefully gone forever now.
I also think the Mavs victory was good for basketball in general. The Heat play the game like a really talented AAU team. If you ever played youth basketball, you know what I’m talking about. They have ridiculous talent and they are usually front-runners with the capability to overwhelm teams with their sheer athleticism. But they don’t run any plays and the best players will occasionally get annoyed when they’re not getting enough shots. You see this a lot with LeBron; he stands around and watches Wade do his thing and is a complete non-factor for large stretches of the game.
The Mavs, though, are a very solid team all the way through. As Rick Carlisle pointed out in his post-game press conference, the Mavs don’t jump high and they don’t run all that fast (comparatively speaking). But they play great defense despite not having many good individual defenders; Dirk, Jason Terry, and JJ Barea, three of their top 6 players, are awful defenders. They also have an actual game plan on offense, which is becoming increasingly rare in the NBA. Sure, they run a lot of their offense by just giving the ball to Dirk and getting out of his way, but they also run Jason Terry off a lot of screens, they run pick and rolls with Barrea, they’ll post up Jason Kidd. It’s just refreshing to see an NBA team that plays like a real basketball team, instead of like an All-Star team. Let’s hope other teams follow their lead.