What a year. What a playoffs. For so many reasons. Great players. Great teams. Great matchups. Great games. It had it all. With legacies on the line, some players came up huge. And some not so much.
Looking back at this NBA Finals, the wealth of media attention will be about LeBron James and the Miami Heat. What they did before the season started. How they didn’t get it done when they needed to. And that’s already a bit of a tired story. I’ll admit, I’m not a Miami Heat apologist by any means. But let’s not confuse what the real story should be from Sunday night.
The Dallas Mavericks played as a team. And they won the championship. They deserved it. And they earned it. Jason Kidd is certified. Tyson Chandler is certified. Jason Terry is certified. Oh, and they have this Dirk guy. He’s certified too.
And what’s most notable about it; is how they won as a team. Sure Dirk is the closer and go-to performer, but without guys like Kidd, Barea, Terry, Chandler, Marion, and Haywood and Butler (before they got hurt); this was a team effort. They played defense as a team. They moved the ball as a team. And they won as a team.
So mad props to the Dallas Mavs. It was a fitting finish to an outstanding NBA Playoffs from beginning to end. And I’m happy for them and their fans.
As for the Heat…
Maybe we can pump the brakes a little bit with the hate now. Look, we know this team is going to eventually figure it out and win championships. In my opinion, a lot of that falls on LeBron James figuring things out, but that’s a topic for another column. The point is, we as fans can take it easy now just a little bit. “Not five, not six, not seven.” It’s not gonna happen. They’ve been humbled now.
I think a lot of the public outcry about this team, besides the obvious philosophical discrepancies (like taking the easy way out instead of competing against your peers), had to do with the arrogance from the get go. The Miami Heat Welcome Party. This notion that they were going to win right away pissed a lot of people off, myself included. Well, they didn’t win right away. And Chris Bosh was in tears in the tunnel.
POINT WITHIN A POINT: Speaking of Chris Bosh, you can’t help but feel bad for this guy. Just watching his demeanor this entire season and listening to his interviews; it seems to me that he really didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he made the Miami move. The pressure to win completely aside: how about the pressure from all the media people calling him out constantly. Wade and LeBron are Top 5 players in this league. Bosh is not. And he had to hear about it all the time. Show me a player that says they don’t care what the public and the media says and thinks and I’ll show a you player that is lying to you. They care. Oh my God, they care.
Bosh is my case. He couldn’t handle it. He’s not cut out for this kind of media scrutiny. And I feel for him. He actually played pretty well in Game 6 and should have probably got more shots. He walked into the tunnel after the game in tears with Erick Dampier helping him along the way. I don’t care how tough you are, if you can’t feel at least a little bit of compassion for him, you’re not human. He’s not like Wade and LeBron. Not only is he wired differently. But he also doesn’t really say and do stupid things like Wade or LeBron. Like mock Dirk Nowitzki for being sick. Bosh is the third wheel in the relationship. And he’s by all accounts taking it the hardest.
The overall point that I’m trying to make is that while I completely condone still rooting against the Heat, and believe me I will, it’s okay to let up a little bit. They got beat. And now they have to live with it until basketball starts again.
Which transitions nicely to my last point.
If you’re an NBA fan, I hope you soaked it in. I know I did. We can’t take for granted how awesome this whole year was and specifically the playoffs. There are some great storylines that will carry over into next season; whenever it is. Between rooting for underdogs like the Memphis Grizzlies or even the Indiana Pacers who played the Bulls tough in those early games, or rooting for the young studs like Derrick Rose or Kevin Durant, or rooting for the Villains in Miami, or the old-timers in San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Boston; this playoffs had something for everybody.
It had comebacks, it had overtimes, it had upsets, and it had last-possession victories seemingly every night. Most important maybe: it had parity. Sure the Heat are going to be good for a while. But outside of that, this league is totally up for grabs. You can pick 5 teams on paper that can realistically contend for titles. And you have a handful more that you could easily talk yourself into.
So I hope this lockout situation gets figured out. Interest is at the biggest high it’s been at since MJ retired. Merchandise sales are up. Ratings are outstanding. And attendance is great too. The product is too good right now to go to waste.
So please, NBA, don’t waste it. Because I want next year to start already. And I’m not the only one. Don’t make us wait until 2012.