Ring Disrespect

We all know what kind of person Mark Cuban is. He’s a loud mouthed, cocky, and controversial owner. For the whole playoffs, we all watched in awe to see Mark Cuban say not more then about 10 words a night. Not even shouting to the refs. Just a pep talk for his players. What could he have been doing just sitting there in the NBA finals saying nothing. How can you not say anything, this is the moment he has waited for, for about 10 years.

Then when the buzzer sounded in game 6, he told Chris Webber what his plan was. The plan that kept him from speaking. No rings. He said they’re too old fashioned and i want a special Mark Cuban ring. This caused some hard feelings among the players.

Especially when he says old fashioned to a team full of veteran talent.  Jason Kidd remarked, ” I am old fashioned.”

Who to agree with, that’s the question. Is it cool to invent new rings, or make it a necklace or something. Or should we keep tradition the same.

In my mind tradition should be kept the same. Especially when one of the most loud-mouthed people in the NBA wants to change a tradition that has lasted longer then he has been alive. I would be seriously disrespected if I was the players.

I’ll tell you why. First off, he goes on TV without even telling his players what he was thinking and blurts out he wants a new type of ring. As an owner of a basketball team, it’s your job to make the right decisions and connect the team. By going on TV with a new idea without consulting his team shows not independence but neglect towards the team.

Then there’s the tradition aspect of it all. Think of Dirk Nowitzki for a second. This man came from Germany when he was 19-20 years old. For 13 years in the NBA he has dreamed of a ring, he has dreamed of holding the trophy up high. And for 12 years before his time he has seen players like Kobe, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Richard Hamilton, Shaquille Oneal, all players that came to the NBA about the same time as him. They all have rings. I think to change a ring it’s just not the same. People always say get that ring, when talking about a championship. Now to take it away from the players who have worked their asses off for 103 games is just like taking dreams away.

Take Jason Kidd for example. Growing up in the NBA he saw all these rings being flashed around, and he got jealous. He tried twice to win the NBA finals but fell short both times. There is more meaning in a ring. He is 38 years old and he is not looking to wear some big gold bling bling around his neck showing everyone who the champions are. He wants a ring. The whole Mavericks want a ring.

If I were Cuban I would apologise for starting turmoil when they should be celebrating over their championship.

The Kidd Without the Credit

While Bill Russell stood up on that stage and handed Dirk the much deserved Finals MVP trophy, the only thing anybody could do was cheer. Here he was, one of the all time greats receiving his first finals MVP from sports’ best champion. He held that trophy up high and let out a childish german smile. Surrounding him was his loyal and hardworking teammates like Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Deshawn Stevenson, but squished between all the 6-7 feet champions was the 38 year old unsung hero, Jason Kidd.

The spotlight on Dirk has never been brighter. He took a team of hungry veterans to the NBA finals and with his determined attitude he took them to a championship. Fans everywhere are glad that Dirk got the championship he’s always deserved, but we may be forgetting about the other 30 year old without a ring.

The facilitator named Jason Kidd.

In 2008 when Mark Cuban shook up the basketball world by sending his developing young point guard named Devin Harris to Dallas for the experienced veteran in Jason Kidd. Jason had had two chances at an NBA championships in New Jersey, but fell short both times. The trade was seen as a negative through the eyes of fans and analysts. Jason Kidd’s career was winding down, he was 36, he couldn’t run fast or jump high, but Mark Cuban had faith. He had faith that Jason Kidd didn’t need the athleticism of this era of basketball, all he needed was experience, maturity and a passing skill like no other. Now as the Mavericks have been crowned basketball champions of the world it seems the trade was a success.

Jason Kidd may not turn up in the stat sheet a lot. His plays may not pop out to the typical NBA fan, but he played his heart out in those 6 games. In game 5 it was his three pointer that put Dallas up 4 points with about 40 seconds remaining. In game 6 it was his control of the pace and of the game that slowed the game down in Dallas’ favour. It was his big threes that gave momentum to the silent Dallas crowds and silenced the loud Miami crowd. It was his ability to get Dirk’s offense rolling and his ability to reach the open man that won Dallas the NBA finals.

Let’s not forget about Jason Kidd. He may not shoot off of one leg, or score 27 off the bench. But this veteran does more then that. Wasn’t it him who took over as the vocal leader during Dirk’s flu game. All these behind the scenes things that Jason Kidd did, helped win them this championship. What about guarding Lebron sometimes and guarding Mike Bibby. He deserves one just as much as Dirk, he has played longer and has been through some rough times. To win this championship means the same to him then to Dirk, although it may not be his MVP he knows what he has done is indescribable.

At an age of 38, Jason Kidd does not want to be forgotten. His performance in the Finals prove to us that the little things count in big games. A big three, a great pass, a jolt of energy on the bench. Think about how much effort and hustle Jason Kidd has to play with at the age of 38 to win a championship. Most NBA players are young, quick, athletic but here is a 38 year old man playing alongside players like Lebron and beating them.

While Dirk held up that MVP trophy, Jason Kidd wasn’t sighing with jealousy, but cheering because he knows his production can’t be measured and because he helped Dirk get to where he wanted to be.

Championship Team

6-10 championships. That’s what they said. The Big 3 boldly stated that they could win 6+ championships with the Miami Heat. Everybody including themselves called this season a failure without a championship. I guess that’s what this season was for them a big failure.

When the finals rolled around, the veteran Mavericks were the underdogs. Rick Carlisle said it best, ” We don’t run fast or jump high, but we have a great team.”

A great team. That’s what wins championships. Not the superstar power of three players and a few points off the bench. No. It takes a Hall of Famer committed since the day he was drafted, to win a championship in Dallas. It takes a 6th man who is more clutch then a two-time MVP in this league. It takes a gritty interior defender who dives for loose balls everywhere they go. It takes an underdog foreign point guard who lights up everybody unexpectedly. It takes a veteran point guard with the best passing skills in NBA history. It takes a veteran forward who dreams of championships every night when he is sleeping. It takes a coach who loves his players and will stop at nothing to get them the championship they deserve. That’s what makes up a championship team.

That also carries over into the legacy conversation. Lebron James will never have a legacy as great as Dirk. Never. He may be more athletic, and more talented, but he played 7 years and needed a championship. So he took the easy route and that was it. He was in a better position for glory. Dirk went through 12 hectic, championship short seasons, he never doubted his team, or teammates, he never thought of leaving. Even when Steve Nash left he never called out the front office or did anything to jeopardise his legacy. He stuck with Dallas for 13 years and eventually won a championship. This championship that he won yesterday will mean more then any that Lebron ever wins. He won it over Lebron, he won it with the team he was drafted by, and he did it all by himself.

  

Dirk really showed what the heart of a champion meant. He played sick and scored 21. He was the lone star of a team without his number two scorer, in Caron Butler. He outplayed everybody on the court even two top 3 players in the NBA. Dirk will be remembered as a champion, like no other. He has no bad rep on him, he has not had a bad season in 13 years. Every year has been consistent and stat filled. Up and coming players should look to players like Dirk instead of Lebron. Players who don’t let their team down when it counts most, players who don’t call themselves the king and then don’t win a championship in 8 years, players who take the easy route to a championship. Not players like Lebron but like Dirk.

When we take a look at Dirk’s career we can really see how complete it has been. An MVP, a finals MVP, an NBA championship, recreating the power forward position, developing the 2nd most unstoppable shot in NBA history, scoring 20 or more points for 10+ years, 10 time all star, leading the Mavericks in points. I mean from top to bottom Dirk Nowitzki is a prize possession for this league. When we look back at this series we won’t be looking back at Lebron’s failure but Dirk’s great and much deserved success.

 

 

Game 1: NBA Finals

Tonight we begin the finals. We begin what could be one of the most fun match-ups in NBA history. A high octane offense against a slow half-court offense. Two lockdown defenses, 4 hall of famers, and one NBA championship.

This game will start it all. It will set the tone for the series. It will set the pace. It will show the world who’s boss. It will prove to everyone that these guys are for real.  This game is more than just an NBA finals game. This is the first impression we’re going to get of how this NBA finals will taste.

What am I looking for in this game?

For the Heat i’m looking for them to set the tone. They need to come out on to the court with more swagger then Dwyane Wade’s clothing choices. They need to be confident and they need to play like they have throughout the postseason. If they can come out and dump on the Mavs as soon as the ball is tossed then they can win this game. The Heat are very good when they are in the lead. After their shaky few games with losing leads in the middle of the regular season they focused more on the 4th quarter and closing out games. Lebron took all the criticism to heart and became a clutch player, that his team can depend on when they need him.

In a few small words. The Heat need to put their foot on the gas, go 100 miles an hour and don’t stop the whole game. If they can get an early lead then they can get the crowd into it which will be extremely important considering the Mavericks are one of the best road teams in the NBA.

Then they need to show the Mavericks that they can defend Dirk. They can’t play defense like the Thunder and let him score 48 points in game 1. His confidence hasn’t been higher in his whole career and from that game on it made it hard for the Thunder to slow him down. He played the rest of the series with a certain confidence and looseness about him that brought his teammates and the crowd up with him. The Heat need, need to shut down Dirk. It’s the most crucial thing in this series. We all know what Dirk can do if he isn’t guarded properly, and the Heat can’t let that happen. Especially not in the finals where Dirk is hungrier then ever before. It might be hard to double team him, due to the skilled three point shooters that the Mavericks have. Like Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry. They have to try and force him to give the ball up. He loves the spot on the wing between the free throw line extended and the restricted area. He has so much room there. All his teammates move to the other side of the court and give him all the space he needs to sink a jumper. I would try, first of all to double him on the entry pass and not the actual possession. If he can’t get the ball then it’s harder for him to score. Then whoever is guarding him, whether it be Bosh or Haslem, they call for a double. It’s a safer way to guard him, Jason Terry and the other three point shooters won’t make the open shots consistently plus I think Lebron is fast enough or Wade is fast enough to rotate over.

You can’t stop Dirk Nowitzki, I know that. I’m just suggesting ways to limit him.

For Lebron, it’s his big moment. The whole basketball world is watching him, waiting for every tiny mistake to critique on. He can’t mess up. He has to show the world that he doesn’t give up in big playoff moments which wasn’t true in the first place. He has to show everyone that in this series he is the best player on the floor. That he is the one who deserves the ring, and that he wants it more than Dirk. It’s his chance to silence everybody and play his game. He has to use up 100% of his energy and try get Miami into a transition game. Every time he grabs a rebound it should be up the floor, the Mavs defense is too good for them to stay in the half-court.

For the Mavericks it’s a chance to silence the Heat crowd. If they can win the first game in Miami, well it’s a gift. They would easily silence the crowd. They would cause the media to pick on Lebron more and I know he says he absorbs the criticism but with all the pressure mounting, I doubt he can stay so composed for much longer. They would pick up a 1-0 lead and force the Heat on their heels. It would also give Dirk a taste of the 2006 series where the same thing happened in 2006. Where Dallas picked up the first at home but lost in 6, it will give him sickening memories and remind him how bad he wants this and make him try harder. If that’s possible. It’s their chance to spit on any memory of playoff chokes and win this series for Dallas, for Dirk, for Jason Kidd, and for the loud-mouthed Mark Cuban. The Mavericks are the underdogs in this series and they know that if they don’t come out strong that they will lose this series quicker than it takes D-Rose to run up the court.

For the defense, it’s their time to step up. They have played stellar defense up till now but this is no time to let loose. The Heat have mismatches at the small forward spot and the shooting guard spot. That’s going to take some team defense overall to stop them. They have to remember their rotations, and shift constantly to guard the open man. If Lebron and Wade dominate their man like I predict they will then it’s basically like playing 4 on 5 in favour of the Heat.

For Dirk personally. He knows what must be done. He knows how close he is, to greatness, to glory, to champagne, to the hall of fame and to an NBA championship. He is hungrier than ever before and that has clearly showed off in his play. He has shouted with adrenaline 10 times in the playoffs as a sign of a tougher, meaner player and a more confident and proud one. He has said that this is the best team he’s played on his whole career but he knows that this is his time. It’s his stage. He knows that a ring on the resumé will let him retire in peace. Lebron said it, if you want to be remembered as an all time great you win a ring. Dirk must. He has to come out of this game not unselfishly but confidently and aggressively. He has to take over as soon as the whistle blows. He hasn’t quite realized that he is unstoppable and is shooting the 2nd most unstoppable shot ever seen in the NBA. He has to take Chris Bosh into the post, take jump shot after jump shot. Jason Kidd is smart enough to know that Dirk needs to get into a rythm early for the Mavericks to have a good chance at winning this game.

Game 1 we’ll see you in 2 hours.