Looking back now, the utter silliness of the Miami “pep-rally” last summer rings louder than anyone could have imagined.
I think what struck me the most was why only three guys were introduced. Where’s the rest of the team and how exactly did that resonate in the Heat locker room? Not that Mike Bibby on down to Erick Dampier would admit it publicly, but how exactly does a team really come together when this is the starting point? We can only wonder I suppose.
The 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks will be remembered for all time, finally. Sunday night’s 105-95 victory in Game 6 of the NBA Finals was a mere continuation of how this series has unfolded since the closing minutes of Game 2.
The Dallas Mavericks both could not and would not be stopped. While the national media chose to often highlight virtually all other aspects of the NBA Playoffs and Finals, the message was clear.
The Mavericks are the best team in the NBA and there is no debate. Not anymore.
Those who thought that Dallas could not win a title have learned something. The Mavs have been through horrors that far precede the 2006 NBA Finals loss to Miami or any of early exits from the playoffs since then. This goes all the way back to the year following 1988’s heroic push to 7 games against the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Remember the name Roy Tarpley? How long ago does that seem now? A 6'11" power forward that was rapidly pushing the Mavericks towards title contention way back until their momentum was destroyed because of Tarpley's drug addiction.
The Mavs bad luck did not stop there.
The early 1990’s saw numerous bad Mavericks teams that never could land any of the NBA’s young “big men” coming out of college with huge promise. Shaquille O’Neal. Alonzo Mourning. Larry Johnson. Joe Smith for cryin’ out loud. Nobody!
A guy named Jason Kidd arrived in 1994 but even that did not seem to add enough to get Dallas back into the playoffs. And don’t get me started on Jim Jackson.
Much more a football fan myself, I could tell you much more about the Chicago Bulls ride to six NBA titles in just eight years than I can about what it was like to see Kidd traded or Dennis Rodman acquired for a very brief stint that meant absolutely nothing, just like pretty much everything else pertaining to the Mavericks that I have ever known, at least since 1988.
I do recall the 1998 draft day trade of the late Robert “Tractor” Traylor to Milwaukee to Dallas for some guy named Dirk “Something”.
Boy was I clueless.
I just happened to be following the draft with obviously nothing better to do seeing as how the Mavericks really gave no reasons to watch too closely. After all, Jordan and the Bulls were finished.
Obviously the duo of Steve Nash and Nowitzki turned things around for the Mavericks in a hurry and by 2002 I was actually witnessing playoff basketball with the Mavericks playing for the first time in well over a decade. Call me a fair-weather fan but I could not get too close to a team that just couldn’t buy a break in the NBA. Neither could Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh who grew up in Dallas / Ft. Worth just like me.
So suffice it to say that this Dallas victory is as sweet as it can be for any Dallas Mavericks fan. This might not be quite as true had Dallas defeated Chicago, for example. No, there were both demons for the Mavericks to exorcize and also lessons to be learned.
Dwayne Wade: 2006 Finals beneficiary of an NBA record number of free throws which killed Dallas.
Pat Riley: Wade’s head coach in those 2006 Finals that won his first championship since his days with the Lakers in which he won four more.
Michael Jordan would certainly agree, but that’s a different sermon.
Since Lebron James skipped college to go directly to the NBA in 2003, nobody has spent more than Nike trying to anoint this player as the successor to Michael Jordan. I have never understood why seeing as how James has already lost more championship opportunities than Jordan and it’s not like these two players even play the same position. I guess the fact they can both dunk from the free throw line is enough.
James created a circus of publicity and hype not previously seen in any sport I can think of when he announced his intentions to leave Cleveland on national television. Joined by Bosh and Wade, it was assumed that Miami would win the next several NBA titles without so much as a fake cough from the rest of the league.
They had yet to play a game.
The included footage of the ensuing pep rally introducing these clowns to the Miami fan base is probably no big deal by itself. Fans should be excited about new acquisitions to their team and especially when it appears that they might reach the top. But when those same additions, the players I mean, buy into the hype then there’s a problem.
See, the NBA Finals, as far as the Mavericks were concerned were never about the Heat or any of their players. The Mavs were only concerned about getting four more wins. Obviously series count or the scoreboard, at any given time during the post season never mattered either.
Parties, fog machines and laser lights do not win anything but a good time, at least for some. For others, victory is all that matters.
In how many instances can we site examples of how arrogance leads to short term success but eventually much greater failure? As I watched that silly pep rally which only included three guys from Miami amidst the chants of “Let’s Go Eat”, as though South Florida’s fans just can’t find a good burger anywhere, I think of Nazi Germany.
Ever seen footage of the gigantic rallies this power hungry and egotistically maniacal regime put on? Sure, the easy military invasions of places like Belgium and Poland created a seductive sense of invincibility. But Germany very quickly, in the grand scheme of things, bit off more than they could chew when trying to tangle with massive and proud Russia, stubborn Britain and eventually the completely unstoppable United States.
No, the Heat are not Nazis, even if their uniform kind of sports some of the same colors, but Miami were and are the bad guys in this case. The likes of Wade and James made that so. All poor Bosh wanted to do, like James, is play with some piers for a change. I wonder what that guy is thinking right now?
Somebody was going to be standing between Miami and it’s expected goal and in the NBA that somebody probably sees red. It’s too competitive for any team, especially one comprised of three All Star players, to simply assume that glory is theirs before they’ve earned it.
The Dallas Mavericks were that team of “allies” that were far too much for the Miami Sound Machine to contend with and the numbers, in several categories, simply don’t lie.
Could it be more appropriate to finally see Germany’s shining international star Nowitzki finally get his due with a supporting cast that made sure he succeeded? Remember that Nowitzki made “The Decision” to take less money to stay in Dallas knowing that more help was on the way. This despite three first round exits from the playoffs in only four years following the ’06 Finals collapse.
In a world where hype, and a country where easy gratification is the norm, it was appropriate to see toughness, loyalty and confidence win out in such impressive fashion. It was right to see arrogance, disrespect and flopping do exactly that: flop.
Whatever becomes of the Heat in the future nobody can say for sure, especially with the NBA about to join the NFL in the joys of labor strife. But if championships are going to South Beach any time soon, it will have to involve more work, humility and focus than what Miami showed on basketball’s biggest stage. The Mavs had all of those things.
And did you really think that Dampier was going to win a ring before Nowitzki?