NBA: Dirk Nowitzki Led the Mavs the Way LeBron James Should Have Led the Cavs!

Matt SmithCorrespondent IJune 14, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts behind teammate Jason Terry #31 after Nowitzki makes a jump shot in the fourth quarter while taking on the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There is a large contingent of LeBron James fans that have been vocal that he couldn't win in Cleveland because he didn't have good enough teammates.  I've always hated this argument because I felt the Cavaliers were a well built team that played great defense who were at best a championship caliber team and at worst one player away.

People scoff at the notion that the Cavs had a legitimate line-up, the non-believers would discount Mo Williams and Antwan Jamison as over-rated or ineffective.  The popular line of thinking of these people was that James had wasted the first seven years of his career carrying a franchise that would NEVER give him what he needed to win a ring.  That LeBron James was being held back by a team of mediocre role players.

I always looked at the Cavs supporting cast as a mix of veterans with All-Star credentials and athletic aggressive young players.  Each of James' last few seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs seemed to always win 60 games and were favorites to win a championship.  Once he left, his loyal apologists claimed loudly that he had to leave to get the championship he "deserved".

I may be wrong but to me it seemed LeBron felt as "King" he was entitled to a ring or rings and he did not want to risk not getting what was rightfully his, messing around with his lesser teammates in Cleveland, he'd rather guarantee his championship by joining up with Wade and Bosh.

We've seen Michael Jordan lose repeatedly in the post season until his 7th season and he led HIS team to the promised land.  Isiah Thomas was scrapping and clawing but losing in the post season until his 8th year, where he led HIS Pistons over the hump.  I thought Cleveland was LeBron's team, HIS guys, HIS city so I was shocked that he left HIS team that was so close to winning it all.

There was so much irony in this year's Finals, Dallas avenging their 2006 loss to Miami is the obvious one but equally ironic to me is how Nowitzki and his supporting cast on the Champion Mavericks bear an eerie resemblance to LeBron and his old Cleveland squad.  


2010-11 Dallas Mavericks vs 2009-10 Cleveland Cavaliers

Let's compare: first both teams have a super-star, Cleveland had LeBron and Dallas has Dirk and most people think of LeBron as the more dominant of the two.

Dirk Nowitzki (2010-11) 23.0 PPG, 7.0 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.5 STL, 0.6 BLK

LeBron James (2009-10) 29.7 PPG, 7.3 REB, 8.6 AST, 1.6 STL, 1.0 BLK 


Then both teams have solid veteran leadership from Hall of Fame level players and former All-Star forwards.

Hall of Fame leadership

Jason Kidd (2010-11) 7.9 PPG, 4.4 REB, 8.2 AST 1.7 STL

Shaquille O'Neal (2009-10) 12.0 PPG, 6.7 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.2 BLK


All-Star Forwards

Shawn Marion: (2010-11) 12.5 PPG,  6.9 REB,  1.4 AST,  0.9 STL,  0.6 BLK

Antwan Jamison: (2009-10) 15.8 PPG, 7.7 REB, 1.3 AST, 1.1 STL, 0.5 BLK


Both teams also had explosive scoring guards in Jason Terry & Mo Williams.


Shooting Guards

Jason Terry (2010-11) 15.8 PPG, 1.9 REB, 4.1 AST, 1.1 STL 

Mo Williams (2009-10) 15.8 PPG, 3.0 REB, 5.3 AST, 1.0 STL


Both teams have quality role players and specialists like Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Deshawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic Brendan Haywood and Brian Cardinal on Dallas.  While Cleveland had Delonte West, Zydrunas Illgausgas, Anderson Varejeo, J.J. Hickson, Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson.  The production of these players is quite similar.

Go to and look at each team and tell me the talent level is not similar.  The point of all of this is I don't ever want to hear again about how bad LeBron had it in Cleveland and how he couldn't stay there and ever expect to win.  Dirk made it work!  

Dirk has proven that with hard work a player can fight through adversity and LEAD their team to the promised land and not have to run to go play with "better" players.  Especially when YOUR team is winning 60+ games each year, they have a nice blend of talent and they are located in your home state, LeBron got the Cavs to the finals there is no reason to believe that he couldn't get them back there, but I guess he wanted to take the short cut.