10 Reasons Mavs COULDN'T Have Won That Title
The questions have been answered, the doubters quietened, the ritual post-season collective lamentation abandoned. But has it been replaced by a sense of euphoric relief? Not for me.
Call it a psychological affliction if you must; but my Mavs fandom has been punctuated by heartbreak too many times to totally be at peace. I actually had a dream the other night where Dwyane Wade hit that shot at the end of Game 2 and led the Heat to a sweep. I woke up in a cold sweat. It seemed all too plausible.
While it's unlikely Chancellor Stern will take our championship (note that I didn't say impossible), he has done it before. Here's a list of the Top 10 reasons Why I Find The Sentence ‘Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA Champions' To Be Utterly Incomprehensible And Why I Still Lay Awake Wondering ‘How The Heck Did We Pull That Off?"
10. You can't win with Dirk Nowitzki as your best player. Twelve years of precedent had been established. He doesn't play defense, turns into a low-percentage jumpshooter when the game is on the line, has released precisely zero rap albums, and never throws punches at people when Chris Webber thinks he should.
9. Tyson Chandler was done. The injuries rendered him useless and he didn't have Chris Paul throwing him oops. C'mon; OKC traded for him, then rescinded it as they preferred perennial All-NBA defensive first-teamer (can you check this? I might have my facts wrong) Nenad Krstic to the hobbled Chandler.
8. The Mavericks had a dearth of star power. Over the past 10 years only two championship teams had as few All-Stars as the 2011 Mavs (SA in 2003 and Detroit in 2004). What's more, only that Pistons team and this Mavs team won a championship without an All-Star starter in that period. Now you might point out the flaws in the fan-based voting system which has enabled the likes of Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter to be voted in as starters to which I respond … well, let's just move to the next point.
7. The 75-Member Staff has long claimed that the Mavs would never win anything while they remained primarily a jumpshooting team. Shooters go cold in the playoffs, cried the groupthink, and the style that beats the Indianas and Minnesotas in November leaves us struggling come May. Well, 82games.com shows the Mavs became more reliant on jumpshooting than ever. That's right. 75 percent of the team's FG attempts were jumpers -- a higher percentage than any year that has been statistically analyzed. Dallas took more 3s per game in the playoffs than the regular season.
6. There were three "Oh s%^&" moments in these playoffs.
a) Game 4 vs Portland. You know the game. Where Brandon Roy went into God-mode and the entire Dallas team resembled one of those dudes from the "Saw'' films who realizes the movie is only 15 minutes in which means he has no chance of a dramatic rescue. Be honest, you thought Portland would win Game 5. You can say it now. It's like being 85 and letting your wife know you cheated on her 60 years before, but y'all thought Roy was going to Wade us in game 5.
b) Game 1 vs Los Angeles. I'm not referring to Jason Terry's "smart'' foul on Odom to prevent the 54 foot lay in, or the 60-44 deficit while Mike Breen was incessantly blaring "Phil Jackson has won the past 13 million series after winning Game 1". The moment that still makes me shudder is the wide open look we gave Kobe on the game-winning 3-point attempt. Sure, the Andrew Bynum spear tackle did clear some space, but we gave Kobe enough time to contemplate what Jordan mannerism he would pathetically imitate after killing us. Somehow, it missed. But we all gagged just a little bit when he rose up uncontested.
c) Game vs 2 Miami. Down 88-73, Wade and Lebron were preening for the cameras, luck had ran out. We got in one too many holes, and could not count on any more 4th quarter comebacks. As it turned out, we could. And two more after that.
5. Let's look at some of the misfits on the team (and I use that term lovingly). Our starting 5'9 shooting guard was labeled ‘My pet rock' by none other than Mike Fisher; not even Jason Terry knows how to pronounce his name properly. Our starting guard for most of the year was a trade throw-in we didn't want and shot below 32 percent the previous 2 years. Luckily he got hot this postseason and got that up to 35 percent. Peja, Kidd and Marion are 1st team All-NBA ‘I wish we traded for them 5 years ago' locks, Brian Cardinal's skills are 3-point shooting and hurting people (not in that order) and some of the teenage girls I teach are less temperamental than Brendan Haywood. A patchwork quilt of declining skills, limited ability and eccentricity.
That beat the royalty of the NBA.
4. Think back to the offseason. Our hope rested entirely on Caron becoming a legitimate 2nd scorer and Roddy B being the inconsistent-yet-exhilarating complement. Neither was there when it counted. Now if you'd been told this and then had to bet your life savings on the Mavs either winning the championship or missing the playoffs, which would you choose? No need to respond verbally; I can hear you nodding along in unison.
3. Now the last two movies I've seen were "Transformers'' and "Fast and the Furious,'' so my exposure to mediocre storytelling recently must be emphasized. But it sure felt like Cinderella chucked a No. 41 jersey on and busted a mess of One-Legged Euro Fadeaways in Miami's grill all series long. Parts of the Mavs run seemingly came from the pen of a Hollywood scriptwriter; admittedly, a rather hackneyed one.
a) There was the dichotomy between the team of self-absorbed, indulgent superstars and the humble, team-oriented good guys. How many D-grade sports films have relied on this contrast? Dallas was the Hoosiers and Mighty Ducks rolled into one. And based on the amount of quirkiness on the team, let's include a Cleveland Indians from Major League reference aswell.
b) The historical criticisms of the Mavs were all emphatically obliterated. Too soft? It wasn't Dirk who wilted like a flower. Poor in the clutch? Dallas submitted the greatest clutch season and postseason of the modern era. Check this out. That's right, the four players with the highest clutch time plus/minus in 2010/11 were all Mavericks. Mentally fragile? Only Mavericks fans can wear that label.
c) The series against Miami was remarkable in its nearly perfect inversion to the 2006 predecessor. Dallas was on death's door in 2011, as Miami in 2006. The Mavs 15-point deficit with 7 minutes to play basically mirrored Miami's 13 point hole with 6 minutes to play in 2006. Our superstar was nigh on unstoppable with the game on the line; as was their's (A slight wrinkle being Dirk did his work from the field, whereas Wade hurt Dallas from the FT line. Yep, still bitching about it). Both teams clinched Game 6 on the other's home floor which created that awkward atmosphere were the players' euphoria permeated throughout the entire stunned building. This isn't the NBA, it's Hollywood.
2. A very strong argument can be made that Dallas had the most difficult schedule of any champion in the past decade, both in terms of individuals and teams they had to contend with. The Mavericks four postseason opponents had a combined 218 regular-season wins. You have to go all the way back to the 2002 Lakers to find a champion that had to go through that much quality.
The NBA is a stars league and there is a strong correlation between having star players and winning. Dallas overwhelmed the teams featuring the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th highest vote getters in the MVP race. Only the 2004 Detroit Pistons have skins on the wall that are comparable.
Whereas some teams have been gifted championships, the 2011 Mavs took on the best in the league. And beat them.
1. Sure age, strength of schedule, lack of All-Star talent, late deficits and injuries were all huge impediments. But none can compare to the life-sapping collective disrespect given to Dallas by the self-ordained Brains of Basketball; the ESPN experts. John Hollinger's playoff odds had LA, Denver, OKC and SA as more likely to win the title than your Mavericks. Science? That was just one big online bingo game and that was just from the Western Conference. None of their metrics, their reduction of basketball to quasi-science played not by human beings but by mathematical inputs and co-efficients predicted our Boys in Blue wanted it more than anyone else. The ascension of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks to the realm of NBA champions defied logic, expectation and prediction.
I hope you don't mind, but it will take some getting used to.