The Big D over the Big 3. How sweet it is.
With the Dallas Mavericks firing as a collective unit on Sunday night, they took Game 6 105-95 to win the NBA Championship over the Miami Heat.
Dirk Nowitzki, who was not his sharpest, stepped back and let the crew take over. Players such as Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion all chipped in to push the Mavs over the top. The team did tonight exactly what Miami could never do well: close out big games.
And that’s really the key word here: team. Dallas is a team, not a collection of All-Stars vying for a championship to massage their own egos. Who is Miami’s go-to guy? There’s no questioning the talent that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have, but who takes the big shot? Wasn’t the point of having all three stars on the floor so that any of them could knock down the dagger? It was the un-defendable team. But it didn’t work out. Instead, you saw three players playing for themselves, playing for the names on the back and not the team on the front. In Dallas, Nowitzki is unquestionably the face and captain of this franchise. Even owner Mark Cuban restrained himself from his usual outgoing personality to let his team do their thing. He didn’t need to take over because it wasn’t his game: it was Dirk’s.
Jason Terry was, in fact, so confident in his team and his abilities that tattooed the NBA Championship on his right bicep back in October, vowing to have it removed if the team failed to win it all this season. Now, he’ll get to keep the tattoo, and have the real thing. Meanwhile, head coach Rick Carlisle becomes just the 11th person in NBA history to win an NBA Championship as a player and a coach.
Dirk and Jet, both trying to escape the pain of 2006, when their Mavericks took a 2-0 lead on the Heat, then succumbed to four consecutive collapses to lose the series in six games in Miami. To add insult to injury, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James idiotically mocked Dirk prior to Game 5 of this series, pretending to cough and laugh into their jerseys as they made their way through the back. Nowitzki, of course, played through Game 4 with a 102 fever.
Now, a bit of redemption. This time around, it’s Dirk with the Game 6 win, right in the face of the Heat and their fans. They celebrate, on top of the world, just as Wade and his Heat did five years ago. Dirk now gets his title at 32, Terry at 33 and Jason Kidd at 38.
And what a win it was. Every time the Mavs won a third game of a series, a fourth win immediately followed. They entered 3-0 in knockout chances this postseason. And it was Dirk’s stature and calmness that helped this team accomplish that. After Game 2 of the second round, Nowitzki got upset about the teams’ celebration following a second straight win over the Lakers. Since then, Dallas has has been stone cold, taking each game one step at a time.
Ultimately, for Nowitzki, his Hall of Fame career is now complete following his first NBA Championship.
The same goes for Kidd, who, as usual, came in under the radar. At 38, Kidd’s career was supposed to be over. There was never a planned rejuvenation or a second act. After 17 seasons, two of which saw him lose in the NBA Finals, the third time was the charm, as Kidd finally grabbed hold of an NBA Championship.
The Mavs made a ballsy decision to acquire Kidd for up-and-comer Devin Harris and two 1st-round picks three seasons ago. A hefty price to pay, but no one reads the floor or creates plays quite like Kidd, who is arguably the most all-around point guard in history. His ability to pass, rebound, steal, score, defend and guide are unparalleled at his position. No one plays the game quite like him: he sees the game differently than anyone else in the NBA, past or present. There’s no question that this team would not be here if it wasn’t for Kidd. Without Kidd, Nowitzki still faces questions about not winning a championship.
What was his last stab at a championship, at age 38, with a potential lockout coming, with rumours of retirement, and with a new generation of point guards in the league, his time was coming to an end. Starting his career in Dallas, it has now come full circle: with his career winding down in the same place, Kidd finally won. The dream finally came true.
Meanwhile, for LeBron James, what was supposed to be the Year of LeBron, turns out to be a collosal failure. And he has no one to blame but the man in the mirror.
After saying ‘championship or failure’ when the Big 3 corroborated, the lofty expectations began. Like the arrogant, pompous personalities that they are, the Heat began calling championships in numbers months in advance of training camp. So much scrutiny and hate from fans and the media, LeBron brought this upon himself for his classless and egotistical “The Decision” program in turning his back on his hometown of Cleveland. Once one of the most beloved NBA players, the words “taking my talents to South Beach” instantly turned him into the NBA’s version of Hulk Hogan and the nWo.
Taking the coward’s way out, he joined Miami, alongside Wade and Chris Bosh for support in the hope that he won’t need to shoulder an entire franchise night in and night out, so that he won’t have to produce 35-9-9-3-1 every night to get the team a win. The only way LeBron could’ve silenced his critics was to win an NBA Championship. But, a funny thing happened–as it turns out, it’s Miami who can’t support LeBron.
And so the nightmare begins.
“This is a big game, probably the biggest game of my life…Well, not probably, it is.”
The biggest game of his life. And the Heat lose.
To call oneself a King, or to be considered great, you need to be better than good–you need to be great and dominant. It’s something that’s demanded of you, not asked of you. And it was something that LeBron was not. As he’s done all series, James started strong and faltered in the dying minutes. The fourth quarter of Game 5 saw LeBron do absolutely nothing. His only stat on the board was a measly layup when the game was already determined. LeBron was invisible. DeShawn Stevenson, who was guarding him for much of the game, even said that LBJ mentally “checked out.”
In the palm of his hands, at his disposal, in his power and control, LeBron James had the ability to do the unthinkable and orchestrate the greatest comeback in sports history on the grandest stage of them all. It was the biggest game of his life…all over again. With the world at his fingertips, like a god looking down upon his creation, all LeBron had to do was hit the same shots that’ve made him so famous, shots that he’s made his entire life to get to this point in his career. A chance to undo what just happened, and to re-write history the way he wanted.
One for the ages, that would’ve seen so much hatred, so much adversity, so much controversy simply relieved with a pair of wins to secure an NBA Championship in the most climactic comeback of all-time. One that would’ve cemented the ‘LeBron James’ into global sports greatness. One that would’ve made him as marketable an icon as Michael Jordan. One that would’ve branded him as the greatest of all-time. Instead, he assumed the role of fourth-best player on the floor, behind Nowitzki, Wade and Terry.
That’s not great, nor iconic. Icons take over fourth quarters when championships are at stake. Icons put their head down and fight, with all their muster and might, to propel themselves and their team to victory. With Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan’s teammate, calling LeBron a better player than Michael ever was, the entire world watched to see Pippen’s words come to life, as if a prophecy was to be revealed. We would all open our eyes, and see the light that was the phenom of LeBron James.
And that’s where he dropped the ball. Rather, he quickly passed it off and faded away.
While LeBron did record a triple double in Game 5: 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, we must read between the lines. In the final six minutes of the game, with a win still within reach, LeBron missed two of his three shots, had no assists, no rebounds and a turnover. He missed an open 3-pointer while trailing 102-100, was called for a charge driving baseline, and let Terry hit a monumental 3-pointer.
With the world closing in on him, and everybody waiting to criticize his every move, LeBron’s anti-clutch performance is the sole reason why Miami is walking away with their tails between their legs. LBJ had only 11 points in the final quarter of the first five games. In Game 4, LeBron amassed just eight points, including a two-point fourth in Game 4 that cost them the game, and essentially the championship. In Game 6, LeBron got off to a great start, scoring nine of Miami’s first 14 points. He scored eight in the fourth, though none of which were truly significant baskets that impacted the game.
How, in any right, can this performance from a man as talented as he is be considered equivalent, or even greater than, somone like Michael Jordan? Michael never scored 11 points in the final quarter of the first five games. Michael never scored eight points in a playoff game. Michael never checked out of games.
Michael also earned six rings, while LeBron has yet to show the world that he deserves a second chance.
“All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”
And what happened in the real world? The Heat collapsed under the pressure and failed to win an NBA Championship after calling for multiple titles. In the real world, LeBron James took the coward’s way out and signed with the Heat, then when push came to shove and the game was on the line, he evaporated to escape the burden and pressure of having to make the big shots. In the real world, LeBron James is 2-8 in playoff elimination games. In the real world, LeBron James averaged nine less points in the playoffs than he did in the regular season. In the real world, LeBron James scored eight points in a must-win game.
In the real world, LeBron James showed just how unlike Mike he really is.
Some could even see it coming. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, many saw LeBron “completely disengage” during the final eight minutes, when Wade ended up coming through to secure their gold medal. While Wade and LeBron came up on the rosy side of things that time, a trend is starting to develop: that version of LeBron is the same one as the one that was nowhere to be seen in the 2010 NBA Championships, and it’s the same one we saw in the 2011 NBA Championships. LeBron has proven that he’s the anti-clutch of the basketball world. He’s faked his way into becoming a global-brand and the ‘greatest’ superstar in the league.
But, it’s not all bad news for the self-proclaimed King: he did, after all, have his big Miami beach bash when he first came to Miami. Hopefully he enjoyed it, since that’s the closest thing to a Championship party that he’ll get.
Even Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert is getting in on the fun. Following the Mavs’ win, he Tweeted the following:
“Mavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings. Old Lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.”
He’s absolutely right, too. Rather than rebuilding the team, and strengthening themselves to become the best team in the NBA, LeBron bailed from Ohio and essentially took a shortcut to Miami in order to win an NBA Championship. James, as well as Bosh, know full-well that neither of them are talented enough to win it by themselves, and their only chance at winning was to create the Super Best Friends and scum and lowlife their way to the NBA Finals. It’s despicable, really–in no other sport will you see Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez play on the same team to win a World Series. You’ll never see Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin raising the Cup together. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will never wear the same jersey.
And there’s no excuse for the Heat collapse, either. This team has three of the best players in the world playing 40+ minutes a game, and simply could not get the job done in the clutch. When the game was on the line, LeBron James faltered and caved under the pressure. So what’s the moral of this story? You don’t need three All-Stars to win a championship. And no, there really are no shortcuts to championships.
Now, LeBron is back at it again on Twitter. Following their loss, he posted:
“The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time.”
Great. So the Mavericks didn’t outplay them, it was God’s fault. It’s this kind of selfish statement that sums up my exact feelings for LeBron James. There are millions of people around the world that are homeless, starving, diseased, recovering from natural disasters, yet for some reason, God found it necessary not to let him win. It wasn’t that you shyed away under the pressure and the spotlight, it was the fact that you showed exactly why you’re not the best player in the world.
But wait, there’s more!
“All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”
Wow. What an asshole. Never in a million years would I want to trade places with LeBron James. All the endorsements, all the money, all the talent, none of it is worth becoming the world’s biggest coward and sellout for.
Here’s what really puts a smile on my face.
Back in 2007, Wade had this to say to Miami reporters following their victory over the Mavs.
“Dirk says they gave us the championship last year, but he’s the reason they lost. (It’s) because he wasn’t the leader that he’s supposed to be in the closing moments. At the end of the day, you’re remembered for what you did at the end.”
Fitting, isn’t it? A cocky player making a classless and arrogant comment ends up eating his words. Dirk said nothing about the comments, or about his apparent lack of drive. He simply played his game, improved himself–as well as his team of NBA castoffs, something LeBron never did in Cleveland–and shoved it down Wade’s throat.
For the Heat, there’s no other way to look at the 2010-11 season as anything but a failure and an enormous disappointment. The same can’t be said for the rest of the NBA and its fans, however, who are cheering their brains out. Well, at least the logical and knowledgeable ones.
And now, for what could be the best part of this entire saga: the potential for an NBA lockout beginning June 30, when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. The only thing that could make this Heat loss even sweeter would be to see the NBA stop playing. It would be the league’s way, and the fans’ way, of rejecting the concept of three of the world’s best players playing on the same team to win a championship. Owners around the league are calling for hard salary caps, rolled-back salaries and the potential for breaking up current deals, which could put an end to the Super Best Friends before they get another chance at a title.
What was originally deemed a boring season, with what was expected to be a Heat championship when all was said and done, has quickly transformed into a ‘Beat the Heat’ season. Everyone is cheering for anyone who can send the Heat packing. Everyone is taking shots at the Heat, who have ridiculed and embarrassed themselves on national TV.
We now know that it was Bosh who cryed and cryed like a baby following a loss to the Bulls earlier this season, just as he did when walking back to the locker room following their Game 6 loss.
We now know that the world is a better place with the Heat losing, just as Wade insensitively pointed out:
“We enjoy the bullseye. Plus, there’s going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it’s not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games.”
And we now know that the Miami Heat are the ultimate choke artists.