The DiProngs Diary: Thoughts Thus Far on the NBA Conference Finals

Michael DiProngsContributor IMay 24, 2011

Solid players - not superstars
Solid players - not superstarsMarc Serota/Getty Images

Welcome to the first entry of my diary—or rather where I publish my thoughts of the NBA, online, for you to read. Then send me angry emails about how my biased views should disappear from the face of the Earth, just like footage of LeBron James getting dunked on or the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers brawl on YouTube.

As a sports fan, I am influenced by the media and what is shown on ESPN, but in the words of the great Rasheed Wallace, “ball don’t lie.” When you watch games, certain things reveal themselves, and whether or not that is an accurate reflection of a player’s career, I frankly don’t care.

The NBA playoffs are where careers are defined; it is the games biggest stage created for the games biggest players.

In other words, this is where I write whatever crosses my mind. If you want a serious statistical or game analysis, I would probably not read on. So without further ado, I present to you my personal diary.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd deserve to win

Are you kidding me, Mike? The first entry on your diary and it’s something as uninformative as this? I know, I know, but they do deserve to win – especially Dirk Nowitzki. Not just because of the fact that he had some ridiculously efficient games, but he is doing so at this stage of his career after everyone had already written him off.

The greatest Dallas Maverick to ever play the game of basketball could have been put down in the history books as a soft Euro that would get chewed up in the era of Charles Oakley and choked big time in the playoffs.

To be honest, Nowitzki reinvented himself in the eyes of everyone in the league. How many people had faith in him during the regular season, or simply expected them to fizzle out in the first round like the Spurs?

It does not matter that they won 57 games in the regular season, or that Dirk puts up statistically insane seasons, or if he were to take less money to make the Mavericks a winner.

Dirk has always been an interesting guy, from his unorthodox yet scarily accurate step back jumper, to his quiet demeanor or the fact that he just seems like a machine created in West Germany to dominate basketball yet was never used after Germany reunited. The versatility of Dirk at his height continues to amaze me to this day.

But it seems like Dirk has finally turned the page to become the go-to-guy the Mavericks need to win. His ability to overcome slow stars and tough losses has been the defining characteristic of a guy who can score and play solid ball. To this point, however, ultimately unable to affect the outcome of the game like a legitimate superstar who—with a ring—could start making a case for being a top-20 player in the history of the NBA.

His 40-point explosion against the Thunder in game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead was the epitome of his transformation; his 60 percent shooting from the field and 93 percent free throw shooting along with mental toughness are things Kevin Durant could learn from.

And now I have come to Jason Kidd. Kidd is just flat-out magical. to the untrained basketball eye, Kidd entertains with ridiculous passes. To the trained basketball eye, Kidd entertains with ridiculous passes.

Every team he plays on instantly becomes better and more fun to watch; every all star game or team USA game he’s a part of, you know there are some unthinkable off the backboard passes that are bound to happen.

Kidd led the New Jersey Nets, of all teams, to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals only to be crushed by superior Western teams. The only reason why we even know the name Kenyon Martin from the weak-sauce 2000 NBA draft is because of Jason Kidd. Kidd led players like Keith Van Horn to the Finals.

It’s hard not to be a fan of Kidd. He brought the fancy, flashy game back to the point guard position but had the fundamentals to separate himself from Jason Williams.

Kidd's defense is also noteworthy, including smothering Kobe Bryant and keeping Durant in check. Undeniable as his terrible shooting percentage is, Kidd still hit big shots against Portland  and faked the living daylight out of Russell Westbrook to hit a clutch three in game 4. A championship for Nowitzki and Kidd would be the best way to wrap up the careers of two future Hall of Famers.

Durant lacks authority and Westbrook lacks control

Their climb into the Western Conference elite has been amazing, but Durant and Westbrook aren't superstars yet.

The Thunder was everyone’s feel good story, with Durant learning how to be the top dog at the FIBA Championships and Westbrook being his Robin.

But Durant still lacks the killer instinct and Westbrook lacks discipline. The playoffs are supposed to be where you shine, but for Westbrook it has been his downfall. From being subbed out of the fourth quarter of game 3 in favor of Eric Maynor, to driving mindlessly to the hoop in his Steve Francis imitation.

Insert Durant – there is also no leap to superstardom when you go 0-13 from downtown, including 0-8 in game 3. After you miss five shots the night before, you need to recognize it when you are not feeling it from the three. Durant is not a one-dimensional three-point shooter like Kyle Korver or Jason Kapono; he has other weapons that he needs to utilize and take over the ball game.

He also lacks the killer instinct, which he showcased when he failed to keep Westbrook in check. When Westbrook takes poor shots or fails to run the offense, the leader of the team has to get in his face and let him know. That or deliver a Michael Jordan style beat-down in the locker room.

A superstar not only has to have the ability to control and change a game, he has to make those around him better. It’s cliche, but don’t you think Jordan’s or Kobe Bryant’s competitive attitude had anything to do with their success? 

Why Durant wears a backpack after every game

Because Nowitzki just took him to school. Bam.

The Heat lived up to their reputation–of being annoying

Yeah, yeah, call me a hater. But could you really support The Decision or the WWE style rock star like introduction they had in Miami? Or LeBron’s claim that they will win multiple titles before playing a minute together?

I could’ve forgiven that if they backed it up with solid play, and at the time this article was written, holding a 2-1 lead on the best team in the NBA backs it up.

But you can’t forgive the drama that came from the Heat, from the tears in the locker room to LeBron’s little bump–literally–with Erik Spoelstra, or Dwyane Wade’s “it’s-us-(and-the-refs)-against-the-world” attitude, saying that the world is a better place because the Heat are losing. I can’t root for a team like that.

And Chris Bosh?

By all means, Bosh is a great player, a true all-star. But even thinking he is on the same level as Dwyane Wade and Lebron James is ridiculous. Wade and James are names that are going to be mentioned as some of the greatest players in the history of the NBA; Bosh is a long way off from that.

It’s a nice surprise to see Bosh put up 20 points and grab 10 rebounds but never a surprise to see LeBron do the same. These are players of two different levels and truly, as Scottie Pippen hinted, it doesn’t matter that "Two and a Half Men" is off the air, we’ve got a two and a half men show every time the Miami Heat plays.

Again, this diary lacks the usual insight and analysis of the game and is probably fueled by more emotion than fact. It touches on all different subjects and is a way of me expressing my views of the NBA on a whole host of different subjects–thanks for making it through!