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.

 

 

Finals: Game 6

This could rap it all up. This could roll out the curtain call. This could pop the champagne bottles. This could give Dirk his much deserved championship. Miami won’t let it slip though. If Lebron thought game 5 was now or never then wait till he is embraced by the anxious South Beach crowd.

Miami is the little boy at school being held up against the wall and robbed of their lunch money. The Mavericks are the bully.

Miami has so much pressure on them to keep the series alive that Lebron just might have to play Lebron James basketball. At least give us a little taste of what the “King” has in store. So far this “king” has played more  like a peasant locked up in the dungeon. Dwyane Wade has played like the king this series. Averaging around 28 points and showing everybody who the man in town is. Dwyane is a leader, and a captain and he knows that he needs Lebron to get involved for them to win. Dwyane can’t do it alone. Even in 2006 he had Shaq and Gary Peyton helping him out. Bosh has even played better then Lebron this series. Those two guys need to call out Lebron on every possession he is not aggressive enough. His sissy play on the perimeter is not going to win championships. Driving into the paint and attacking the rim is going to win championships. That’ll be key for the Heat to win this game.

 

The Heat as a whole have to come out on fire in game 6. Their crowd will be eager for something to cheer for, and they have to create an environment that Dallas won’t want to play in. They have been letting Dallas get the upper hand when the games have begun and they have found themselves fighting back in the first quarter. Not this game. They have to force turnovers, and get Lebron, Bosh and Wade into a rythm offensively. Then they need their role players to step up. Dallas’ depth has killed them in the past two games. The only player who is really producing is Mario Chalmers. That’s one 12 points bench player against a crew of Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J Barea, and Tyson Chandler. The supporting cast has to step up. I always say that the bench will play better at home. It proved correct for the Mavericks, let’s see if it will prove correct for the Heat.

The Mavericks know what they’re going to be up against. They know how much hype is surrounding this game. They also know how loud the Miami crowd is going to be. Which is why they have to use their veteran skills to their advantage. Most of their players have been in big game situations, for a long time in this league. When the 4th quarter rolls around they have to jump on any opportunity to silence the crowd. They have closed out games terrifically, but they have to be sure to hold the Heat when the 4th quarter arrives. Lebron will be looking for more opportunities and they have to be ready to counter that with defense and maturity.

They also need their role players to continue playing like they have. They struggled a bit in Miami in the first two games but when they got home they were on fire. Now as they step back on the road they can’t shrink out from the spotlight. Last game it was big threes from Jason Terry and Jason Kidd that won them the game. They need that production from those same guys again.

When they’re hot offensively, it spreads the floor for Dirk. Giving him room for his one legged jumper and room for him to spin to the hoop more often. Defenders have to stay with their men and Dirk gets to dominate. That only works if the Dallas supporting cast comes to play. And they must. If they do then this game will be won. If not then look forward to a tense game 7 showdown.

Game 6. See you in 1 hour.

 

 

Finals: Game 5

This will be a test of true will and effort. To win a must win game, takes concentration, 100% of effort and coming up big when it counts.

I know this game will come down to the 4th quarter. How can it not? Dwyane and Bosh are on top of their game, while Dirk keeps serving up his german dose of 30 points 10 rebounds. It’s whichever team will seal the deal when they can.

One thing I know I can look forward to is Lebron domination. Lebron domination in a roudy, road stadium, in the finals, in a must win game. I am so excited to see him go crazy tonight. He’s going to start this game going in to the paint, drawing fouls and just being classic Lebron. I see a 30 point outing for the young fella from Cleveland tonight.

The only problem I see with his mindset towards tonights game is this. With all the criticism he has taken for his underachieving 8 point game 4, he knows he has to play aggressively on offense. He needs to fill up the stat sheet and produce. His teammates know this too, they know he is going to be looking to score more then anything. Which is why I see a shy cast of Miami Heat players tonight. If Lebron is going to produce at a high rate, and look to do so, his teammates may think more about his offense then their own. They may shy away from scoring and get it to Lebron on more possessions. This i believe will cause Dwyane, Bosh and all the productive role players to lose some of their hot rythm. Tonight will be a test to see how Lebron’s aggressive mindset will be adjusted into the offense and minds of the other players.

The Heat as a team have to win this game, and the way they do that is by executing in the 4th quarter. Too many times have I been absolutely disgusted by the way the Miami Heat have executed in the 4th quarter. It started with their 15 point meltdown, then Dwyane Wade dropping the ball, then Lebron not taking a shot in the 4th quarter. This isn’t so hard. You run a play for your best clutch player-(Dwyane Wade.) You get him the ball, all the other players move aside as he scores a bucket, or gets to the line. I have been disappointed more that they couldn’t finish out games because they have two superstars and future hall of famers on their team. It should be a piece of cake. That’s been the difference when you look at Dwyane Wade and Dirk in this series. One has produced in the 4th quarter with timely baskets while the other hasn’t. The finals will be a grind, they’re going to be within 3 or 4 points heading into the 4th quarter. It’s the superstars job to take care of business when it counts. And, oh boy does it count now.

The Mavericks need this game more then the Heat need it. To go back to Miami down a game is tough. The atmosphere in a game 6 in Miami with the chance to win it all will be overwhelming for any team. If they can go back up a game, then the pressure is on Miami to please their overwhelming crowd, who will be louder then if they were up a game because they know their praise will keep their team going when it counts most. They need to do exactly what they did in game 4. The Dallas bench was on fire. Chandler had 13 points and 16 boards, Terry had 17, Marion had 13, Barea had 8.

41 points from those four guys plus a healthy Dirk Nowitzki is unstoppable. If you think that they won that game with a sick Dirk, imagine all that bench production with a healthy one. Hopefully the bench doesn’t shy away because he is healthy now, they can still be a big part of the offense and not defer to him too much.

Game 5. We’ll see you in 8 hours.

 

 

Game 4: Notes

Yes, I have a fever of 101 degrees. Your point?

Dirk wasn’t going to let anything hold him back from playing in this game. Not even a 100+ fever. He knew he had to carry his team and he did so in the last 20 seconds. The same play from game 2, just against Haslem and from the other side. He backed up, span around drove to the hoop and softly laid the ball in the net.

Dwyane on the other hand was cutting around the top of the perimeter. Mike Miller tossed the ball in, he grasps it lightly but lets it go. He sprints toward half-court and dives for the ball with determination.

He tosses the ball back and into the hands of Mike Miller. He throws up a prayer and the game ends. Dallas 86-Miami 83.

That was the difference in this game. When it counted one star player showed up while the other one dropped the ball. That’s not to say D-Wade had a bad game. Besides that fumble, he had the best game on the court. 32 points, 2 blocks and 6 rebounds. He put it all out there and can be proud of how he played. Sometimes the cards aren’t drawn the way we’d like.

As soon as the game started I noticed a different energy about Dallas. There was an extra umph to their game. Some extra swagger to their step. They were going crazy on defense, waving their hands around, moving quickly, covering everybody. They looked like a new team. For the first time this series it wasn’t just Dirk who was playing well it was the whole team. Shawn Marion was knocking down shots, Deshawn Stevenson was hitting threes, Jason Terry was flying down the runway, Tyson Chandler was thumping his chest, J.J Barea was even flipping up some reverse lay-ups. All this while holding Miami to 25% from the field. The depth that was supposed to kill Miami was suddenly playing some kick-ass basketball. Some basketball that brought a smile to my face.

The momentum is with them now. Tyson Chandler got his rage back inside, Jason Terry got some flight time, J.J Barea was doing his acrobatics and the crowd is hungrier and crazier then ever. It’s going to be hard for Miami to go to Dallas play a must win game against a crowd high on energy and a team high on momentum. It’ll be hard and Dallas has set themselves up very well for this pivotal game 5.

For Miami I was impressed with their countering skills. The game started off with Dallas dominating on defense, hustle and effort yet the score was still tied. That was all due to the calm, composed minds of the Miami Heat. They could see a more aggressive team but they didn’t back away, or play any less then they could. They fought back harder and finished the half up by two points. That shows me some improvement from the game 2 meltdown. Instead of giving up when they could they fought and fought and ended up with the lead for the first half. Unfortunately they lost the game, but from a development standpoint it shows an improvement in maturity and heart.

I also noticed that Lebron will be getting a lot more criticism from now on. After getting 8 points in a crucial game 4.

There is no elbow excuse now, even Erik Spoelstra says Lebron is physically fine. He just has to get more aggressive. He’s standing around the perimeter looking for teammates, or in the post looking for teammates. He is rarely jab stepping and getting ready for a drive or a jump-shot. Let’s not get Lechoke back Lebron, you and I both don’t want that name stuck on you. He has to be more aggressive for Miami to win this series. We’ve all seen what Lebron can do when he is at the top of his game. It’s just a matter of putting your concentration to it and dominating.

Finals: Game 2

Coaches always say forget about the bad and just focus on this possession, this play, this quarter. That’s what the Mavericks mindset must be like heading into Thursday’s game. The bench can’t dwell on their embarrassing play from last game but must focus on the task at hand.

Everyone says a series hasn’t started until someone wins on the road. The Mavericks have to try and make it a series tonight.

They are one of the best road teams in the league and with their extra ounce of desire from last game’s disappointment then they should be taking this game in Miami.

I’m looking for the Mavericks to come out strong. I suggested giving the ball to Dirk more often. I watched how Miami was playing him and they were getting Mike Miller or another perimeter player and Joel Anthony to harass Dirk as soon as he touches the ball. That did limit his offense but he has become such a talented passer that he got the ball to open men who scored a lot of points. I don’t think they realized that was working. They didn’t give it to him enough, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry played too much like a street-ball player and was trying to dribble by everyone. That won’t work. Especially not against a defense like the Heat.

Then they have to get Tyson Chandler in a more aggressive mindset.

He came to Dallas this year and instantly set off a different personality for this team’s defense. They were tougher, and put in more effort. This is not the stage to be getting soft on. He has been compared to Kevin Garnett for his instant defensive presence on a new team.

Only difference is Kevin Garnett got more than 4 rebounds in game 1 of the 2008 finals.

Then they need J.J Barea to snap out of his fantasy world and get into the game. Last game he scored 2 points, and barely dished out any assists. He was a no go in game 1. Dirk is 32 years old. When you’re superstar player is a seasoned veteran then the bench gains much more responsibility to produce when he isn’t on the floor. He was getting so much hype throughout the post-season for his fast play, his dribbling skills, and his nifty moves around bigger defenders. I know he’s a younger player, and is new to having such big role on a big stage but he has to produce. It’s that simple.

For the Heat. This is their chance to put the Mavericks in a hole. Put them in a deep 2-0 hole, cover them with dirt and fill the hole up. If they can win this game it’s going to be very hard for the Mavericks to win the next three games in Dallas. It’s a very hard task for teams. If they lose 1 game in Dallas then this series is pretty much over because we all know when Lebron and the Heat get back to Miami they’re winning. They’re 9-0 at home this post-season.

Miami won last game with lockdown defense and a huge advantage on the boards.

They only declared victory in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. That’s how close the game was. Both teams shot below 40% from the field. But the Heat only won in the last 5 minutes.

That may be too close for comfort for Erik Spoelstra and the Heat. They know that that game could’ve easily gone the other way. It just came down to the Heat having Dwyane and Lebron and Bosh on their team in the closing minutes. And the Mavericks having to depend solely on Dirk.

The Heat need to stop with the silly ball handling and careless passing. They fooled around too much in the first quarter and that prevented them from getting into a rythm. Also on one of their first possessions Lebron took a fade away jumper on Deshawn Stevenson. A 6’8 guy fading away from a 6’4 to 6’5 kind of guy.  Why is he doing that? Sure he made the shot but c’mon. I feel like Lebron settled a bit in game 1. Sure he got 24 points but most of it was from jumpers. He could score an easy 30 next game if he attacked the rim and tried to penetrate the paint especially when Tyson Chandler is off his game.

They did nothing else wrong. Nothing I could see at least. The Heat played a strong game, they let their defense win them the game and they stepped up when they needed to. Maybe with a bit more offensive production they could easily win this game in the third quarter.

Game 2. We’ll see you in 9 hours.

 

Keys For The Finals

That trophy keeps them going. The thought of them crying with the prestigious trophy in their arms is enough to keep them going. The thought of having NBA champion before their name keeps them going. The thought of being at the top of the basketball world keeps them going. The thought of all their hard work paying off keeps them going. Keep going they must.

This is no time to give up. The Mavericks and Heat realize they are too close to make a mistake. Too close for comfort is the right term in this context.

With the pressure increasing within every second they must execute their game plan. I have a few keys for each team that will help them win this series.

For the Mavericks the main thing they have to do is play amazing team and interior defense. They don’t have the defenders to guard Lebron or D-Wade. Shawn Marion isn’t quick enough or strong enough to deal with Lebron. Deshawn Stevenson doesn’t have enough defensive I.Q to deal with the craft of Dwyane. Which is why it’s crucial that the Mavs look out for each other on defense. If Lebron gets by his man then the other perimeter defenders have to shift over and take him on. Besides Lebron and Wade the Heat don’t have many threats to score from midrange. They won’t have to worry too much about the other players knocking their shots down when they rotate.

Keeping Miami in the half-court game could win them this series. The Heat often get stagnant on offense and leave it to Lebron or Wade for an ISO on the wings. That’s where their offense struggles most. They score most of their points off fast breaks, and from the free throw line. If the Mavs can force the Heat into a stagnant offense then the series will be much easier.

Then there is the interior defense that needs to step up. Tyson Chandler will really be tested this series. He’s facing off against the persistent rebounder in Joel Anthony. Don’t underestimate him based on size or age. This guy definitely makes an impact. He grabs

rebounds when it matters and is always a pest down low.  Tyson Chandler will have to keep an eye on him while trying to stop D-Wade and Lebron’s penetration.

J.J Barea will be a very important piece of the puzzle for Dallas if they want to win. We all know Miami’s bench is one of the worst in the NBA, while Dallas has one of the best benches in the league. He has made players like Russell Westbrook and Brandon Roy look like inexperienced rookies with his dribble penetration and crafty layups.

He’s going to need to lay it all on the line this series when he plays against inexperienced bench players like Mario Chalmers. He’s going to have to know his mismatch at the point guard against Mike Bibby as well. He has to try and drive by him on almost every possession that will bring the interior defense out and give open shots to Jason Terry on the outside.

Then there is the three point shooting. Dallas made it clear that they are a three-point threat to be reckoned with. After knocking down 20 three pointers in the conference semi-finals against Los Angeles they made a statement to future teams that they should be scared of their three point talent. They have to keep that up this series. Miami has great perimeter defenders like Mike Miller, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. It might be hard for them to penetrate so their three point shot is going to have to be working for them to produce.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned Dirk in this. Well it’s because there is nothing different he has to do, he can’t step up anymore than he already has. He has been clutch, he has knocked down timely buckets, passed well out of the double team and led Dallas to the finals. We all know he is going to take Bosh apart. He has to do it with confidence, he has to realize this may be his last legitiment chance at a title and I think he knows what he has to do.

The Heat have keys that are a bit more simple.

Lebron and D-Wade must take over this series. Due to them being the best players on the court they have to take advantage of their match-ups.

It’s really no competition on the perimeter.

They can’t handle them, the Mavericks don’t have a Luol Deng or a Shane Battier kind of player. They need to run all over them, get them off the dribble, draw fouls. Anything to take over the perimeter.

Then they need Udonis Haslem to step up off the bench. When he produced for the Heat in game 2 against the Bulls the Heat killed in the 3rd quarter. He is such a versatile player and really stretches defenses because he has a mid range shot as well as a mean post game. If he can produce like he did in game 2 then the Heat’s bench production and confidence will go up immensely as well as their chance of winning.

Also, they need James Jones and Mike Miller’s three point production. The Heat’s three point percentage in the playoffs has been terrible their shooting around 30%. The Mavericks bench will kill the Heat’s bench if they can’t make their threes. Making their threes not only keeps the defenders on their toes more, but makes it easier for Lebron or Wade to pass out of the penetration, or when they blow by their man.

It’s these things that will separate the two teams in this series. Whoever can execute these keys the best then they’ll have the best chance of glory and pride.