Once a threat looms in the air for long enough without any real consequence doesn’t it cease to become a threat? It does in my book.
This is the story of the Dallas Mavericks.
They’ve been hanging in there, stringing along 50-win seasons for the entirety of the last decade, appearing in conference finals and even the NBA Finals once, but managed to emerge from all that success with no more rings than my out of service cellular phone.
What have they really done in the last four years to merit that kind of credit?
In that span, they’ve been eliminated from the first round three times and advanced to the second round once in 2009, only to barely avoid a sweep at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.
Yet we credit them. Over and over we say that this could be their year.
Isn’t it time to accept that the Mavericks’ window of opportunity has been slammed shut? Isn’t it time to admit that they aren’t that good?
What makes the 2011 Mavericks any more likely to win the title than the 2007 Mavericks, who posted one of the highest win totals in NBA history only to become the first No. 1 seed in NBA history to lose to an eighth seed in a seven-game series?
When we look at the Lakers we see Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, the best coach in basketball history and more than a few other notables. When we see the Boston Celtics, we see a top-five point guard in the budding Rajon Rondo and three future Hall of Famers (four with Shaq’s arrival).
What do we see in Dallas? Dirk Nowitzki….and...(Don’t even start with grandpa Kidd).
Over the last few years, Pau Gasol had proven to be a better defender and rebounder than Nowitzki and now sports two more championship rings.
The argument can certainly be made that the Lakers boast not just one player better than anyone Dallas can offer, but two.
What makes Dallas so special? Aren’t real championship contenders are defined by what their players do on the court?
Well, the Mavericks are mostly defined by the moronic things their owner says off of it.
Things like calling out LeBron James for the way he handled The Decision, calling it “the largest humiliation in the history of sports”.
While the criticisms James’ received for his actions in the past summer have been somewhat justified, doesn’t Cuban have enough to worry about with his own team?
Besides I don’t think the announcing of the potentially dynastic pairing of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh quite measures up to the Mavericks’ epic flop in the first round of the 2007 playoffs in terms of sheer “humiliation” factor.
But that’s just me.
Earlier, when Cuban was asked whether the Mavericks could beat the Lakers he answered with an emphatic “Hell yes,” and added “We’ve got a lot more depth than the Lakers. Its not even close there.”
The Lakers have had the best frontcourt in basketball for the last two years and counting, yet the Mavericks suddenly have “more depth?" Since when?
Since the Lakers added yet another perimeter defender in Matt Barnes and shot blocking specialist Theo Ratliff?
Since the Mavericks re-signed Brendan Haywood or signed Tim Thomas? Please.
But why are we even having this conversation? Since when can you compare a team with three straight Finals appearances and two straight titles with a team that hasn't even seen the conference finals in almost half a decade?
The Mavericks don't compare to the Lakers. Period.
Fact: The Mavericks have compiled a somewhat less-than-stellar 2-8 record against the Lakers since they traded for Pau Gasol.
Fact: The Mavericks failed to prove their 2009 triumph over the Spurs was more than a fluke or momentary speed bump in what has been an otherwise one-sided rivalry despite holding homecourt advantage in their 2010 rematch.
I can summarize my plea to the entire Maverick franchise in two words: Shut up.
Especially you Cuban.
Smack talk is reserved for champions, not chokers. The Mavericks have proven to be talented enough to garner a modicum of success in the regular season, but have faltered time and again in the postseason when it came time to turn up the Heat.
Someone should have told Cuban not to spit upwards. Once you miss, it has a habit of splattering right back down on your face.