When can we start calling Dirk Nowitzki "Gandalf" and the Heat the "Nazgul"? All right, I got the idea of calling LeBron, Wade, and Bosh the Nazgul from one of Bill Simmons’ mailbags on ESPN.com. But there are some interesting parallels when you compare Nowitzki to Gandalf.
For those who don’t know, Gandalf and the Nazgul are characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The Nazgul were once honorable and respected men who were corrupted by the One Ring (i.e. the championship ring). Gandalf is a rump-wrecking, nearly unstoppable wizard who proved this by destroying the Balrog, a fiery demon many believed to be unbeatable (which I guess would be the Lakers if we’re keeping up the comparison).
In the book, Gandalf was one of the few people who could stand their ground against the Nazgul (guess this makes Derrick Rose Aragorn, a warrior who's learning about his strengths and successfully fought the Nazgul—not to mention Aragorn ends up being the MVP, I mean king).
Sure, Nowitzki hasn’t played the Heat yet in the playoffs, but he won both times when they met in the regular season. And in the playoffs, so far Nowitzki’s proving LeBron James wrong. James’s decision was based on the fact that no one can win a championship on his own anymore. This is where Nowitzski comes in.
So far, he’s single-handedly brought the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals. Even back in the regular season, his importance to the team was seen when he missed all those games in late December and early January.
In the playoffs, he’s been nothing short of amazingly spectacular. He’s been the one truly un-guardable player thus far. Kevin Durant was stopped by Tony Allen in Game 5 and 6 in the second round. James and Dwayne Wade were slowed by Chicago in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals when they had 15 and 18 points, respectively.
Nowitzki, on the other hand, scored 48 points last night. No body could stop him. Not even the usually good defender Serge I-Block-a, I mean Ibaka. He was hitting his jumpers and attacking the basket. He was perfect at the line going 24 for 24. That’s unheard of. You’d be hard pressed to do that by yourself at the gym.
In the past two series, he’s averaged at least 25 points—27.3 in the first round and 25.3 in the second. James had 24.2 in the first while Wade had 22.2 in the same round. Sure, both of them stepped up against Boston, but don’t you want your best players performing consistently and giving off that aura of invincibility?
Now let’s look at his team. Don’t try to tell me he’s had help. Dallas doesn’t have a Big Three. They have Nowitzki, what used to be Jason Kidd and a bench. Kidd’s not that same player he was all those years ago. Nowitzki, arguably, might even be better now than he was in his younger years.
Just watching last night and some of the previous games, he has an un-guardable fadeaway, can draw the foul and hit the free throws, not to mention he can spot up with a jumper that's downright impossible to properly defend. Being seven-feet tall with a jumpshot like that is kind of unfair. He just can't miss. It's like he's magical or something.
Sure, Dallas has an insanely scoring bench, but the argument last summer was that you needed at least two stars to win a championship. It was shown when Kobe Bryant and Gasol won again. It was shown when James and Bosh joined Wade in Miami.
That theory’s trickled down to New York and even to Chicago, to an extent. Teams are looking for at least two stars, maybe even their own Big Three, to win. Dirk’s proving them wrong. He’s going against that notion and he’s saving old-school basketball on his own.
Old teams had one dominant star who was surrounded by a good cast. See Jordan, Bird, Magic, even Duncan once Tony Parker and Ginobili got going. Nowadays, GMs and owners are trying to shore up on big-name talent for the tickets as well as the rings.
If Nowitzki ends up winning the whole thing, the whole Big Three notion goes out the window.
While it should be the player’s decision where he wants to go and play, I’d like to see a little more loyalty from the players. At least, no repeats of the Cleveland scenario.
Last night, Gandalf, I mean Nowitzki, used some magic to overcome the young Thunder team. And if things keep going the way they’re going, it won’t be long until Nowitzki’s in the Finals. The only question that remains is will he face the Nazgul once he gets there.