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Why the Dallas Mavericks Are World Champs and the Big Three Are Not

Many months ago, I went out on a limb and stated that the Miami Heat would not win the NBA championship. Well, they got very close. They got extremely close, but in the end my analysis was correct. The NBA is not about getting close. America is not about getting close. We love winners. We love Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson because they all won championships.

The Miami Heat simply could not close out games. It is a fourth quarter that is critical in the NBA. Everybody is talented. Everybody can get hot. It is when the opposing team turns up the defense and contests every shot. This is crunch time. During crunch time you have five very talented basketball players who must work together with the precision of a Swiss watch. In spite of the pressure, in spite of what the other team is trying to do, these five guys have to perform together. This is where the Miami Heat failed.

I’ve talked about the formula to win in the NBA. Briefly, for those who haven’t read my post, you need to have a superstar, a sidekick, a rebounder, a ballhandler and a three point shooter. Think of the Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan. Think about the LA Lakers with Kobe Bryant. The San Antonio Spurs never really fit this model. They have three superstars (who are now aging) who could play the role of the superstar and the sidekick interchangeably. The chemistry between Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is almost unparalleled in the NBA. Now, when you compare this formula to the Miami Heat, several questions arise. Who is going to be the superstar? Who is going to be the sidekick? I thought the key to the Miami Heat success would be Lebron James. He would have to play the role of the sidekick. He would have to be Scottie Pippen. Dwayne Wade would have to be the superstar. Chris Bosh would have to be the rebounder. In the playoffs, Lebron James seemed to be the closer. He seemed to be the superstar, leaving Dwayne Wade standing around looking for something to do. This is where the Heat failed. (I also think that Dwayne Wade was hurt. It is more than his hip. He just simply couldn’t push it or didn’t push it like I expected.)

On the Dallas Mavericks side of the ball, everybody knew who the superstar was. When Dirk Nowitzki began the game shooting poorly, it was Jason Terry’s job to step up. Jason Terry knew his role. He played it to perfection. I thought that Shawn Marion was one of the keys to the series. He played incredibly strong defense. Jason Kidd played strong defense. Surprisingly, the energy and speed of JJ Berea was one of the keys to the Mavericks winning the series. He played incredibly well in games four, five and six.

So, the Dallas Mavericks are NBA world champions. I just love seeing that after watching the Mavericks fall flat multiple times. There were times it seemed that they had the talent but didn’t have the heart. I remember watching those teams in the mid-1980s: Sam Perkins, Mark Aquirre, Rolando Blackman, Dale Ellis and Derek Harper. The 1987 – ’88 Mavericks lost in game seven to the Los Angeles Lakers. It was a crushing defeat. It would take the Mavericks another 10 – 13 years to put together a team to challenge the NBA and go deep into the playoffs. For the last 10 years, the Dallas Mavericks have made the playoffs. They have had three different coaches and multiple different players. They finally figured out how to win in the postseason. Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks (I hope the Dallas Cowboys were watching and learning!)

By |2011-06-13T09:46:38-04:00June 13th, 2011|Sports|Comments Off on Why the Dallas Mavericks Are World Champs and the Big Three Are Not

Just a couple of things …Friday edition

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  • I’m sorry, I believe that basketball is about skilled athletes figuring out away to put the ball in the basket. What we witnessed yesterday with the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls was more of a wrestling match. If you can’t shoot, I just don’t know how you play the game of basketball. The Chicago Bulls only had one shooter on the floor the whole game. Derek Rose has proven that he can carry a team deep into the playoffs but he’s going to need help if he and the Chicago Bulls are gonna go to the finals and win. Congratulations to the Miami Heat. I still think that there might be something physically wrong with Dwyane Wade. Lebron James was incredible, especially down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Again, the problem that I have with this whole series is reflected in the field goal percentage of the either team. Chicago shot 36% from the field and Miami shot 39% from the field. In my opinion, that’s not basketball.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry is considering a run for president. The Republicans need somebody else to enter the field, I guess.
  • Michele Bachmann has done herself no favors in Iowa. It seems that over 300 Republicans had paid $75 apiece to see Michele Bachmann, a tea party darling, in person. She didn’t show.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to want cuts in Medicare before agreeing to raising the debt ceiling. Republicans seem to really, really want to dismantle Medicare.
  • The popularity of Florida Governor Rick Scott seems to have plummeted. Unhappy voters seem to be barred from some of his events.
  • Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has reiterated that defaulting on our debts can have some serious consequences.
By |2011-05-27T17:36:00-04:00May 27th, 2011|Budget, Party Politics, Sports|Comments Off on Just a couple of things …Friday edition

Why the Miami Heat are not going to win the NBA championship (the Knicks aren’t going to win either)

I was talking with a few of my friends about basketball. A couple were perplexed at the Miami Heat and its mediocre performance. Before you know it, I had written a long e-mail about the NBA and how to win. Here’s the e-mail:

First of all, I think the jury is very much out on the Miami Heat. It is clear that the Miami Heat can beat up lesser teams. It is not clear that they can compete with legitimate contenders. I know I’ve mentioned this before and I know that a couple of my friends and I have discussed this at length but the NBA is a different kind of sport. It is not like golf or tennis or football or even baseball. Basketball is about poetry. It is like jazz. It is about working within a structure while being able to improvise and know what your teammates are going to do on the court. Turnovers, especially in the playoffs, are deadly. Ask Oklahoma, who had an opportunity to beat the Lakers, but just kept turning the ball over down the stretch.

There’s a formula to winning in the NBA (Think Chicago Bulls). If you can get six or seven players to understand their roles, you can be NBA champions. You need to have the superstar. This is the Michael Jordan of your team. He is the one who wants the ball within the last five minutes of a close game. He has to be able to either make a shot or get fouled and make the free throws down the stretch. This is imperative. This is why the Dallas Mavericks have come close but can’t get over the hump. They do not have a superstar who has that one move and scores down the stretch. They have tried to make Dirk the star. He isn’t. He will resort to that fadeaway jump shot when he is pressured. He’s unable to draw a foul. He makes a shot somewhere around 51 – 52% of the time. That is not gonna cut it. You need points 90% of the time when the game slows down within the last 5 min.

The second player that you need is a Scottie Pippen type player. This is an extremely versatile player and probably the hardest player in the NBA to find. This player must have ball handling skills, must be able to crash the back boards and on occasion pour in 20 or 30 points. This guy is like the Energizer Bunny. He’s the one on the floor scrapping for the loose balls.

The third player that you need is the long bomber. This is the guy who was standing at the three point arc and is waiting for the superstar to kick the ball out to him when the defense collapses on the superstar. This guy is key. He has to drain that wide-open three time after time. Usually, this guy is the ballhandling guard but not always. This is one of the positions that San Antonio has had trouble consistently filling. They have had Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry… Filling this position at various times in the last 15 years. Remember that the Chicago Bulls had BJ Armstrong, Ron Harper and Steve Kerr.

You need a rebounding, defensive machine. This guy is the enforcer. He is known for his defense and toughness. This guy has to get 10-15 boards per game. He clears the boards then makes the quick outlet pass to the superstar or ballhandling guard and you’re off to the races.

The Chicago Bulls are the purest example of this formula. The Los Angeles Lakers have used this formula. Even the Miami Heat used this formula when they won their NBA championship several years back.

If there’s one thing that everyone can learn from the Dallas Mavericks, it is that the NBA plays two different seasons. The regular season you can win with wide-open basketball and no defense. If you put five shooters on the floor, you can dominate. Unfortunately, the game changes in the postseason. The game is about defense. The game is about possessions. The game is about scoring when you must. Shooters can run cold. You cannot have a cold spell in the playoffs and expect to win. The Dallas Mavericks, and the Phoenix Suns, have played some of the most wide-open basketball we’ve seen in the last 40 years. Their consistently rank high in their conference and win their divisions. But they also consistently flame out in the playoffs because they ain’t got the formula to win in the playoffs.

This brings me to the Miami Heat. We all know that DeWayne Wade is a superstar in this league. We all know that he can do what is necessary to win. The only question is his durability. He tends to get hurt. Using the formula that I set out above, where does Lebron James fit in? This is key. He can be a Scottie Pippen type player but will he take that subordinate role? So far, the answer is no. Where is Chris Bosh gonna fit in? It would seem to me that he would be the Scottie Pippen type player. This is the problem that the Miami Heat has with their big three. Can they share the roles adequately enough so that they can dominate? Look at the big three in San Antonio. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. These guys have been playing together for so long that they’ve been able to switch roles from time to time and sometimes in the middle of the game. Sure, Tim Duncan is always the rebounder but he is also the scorer. Sometimes, Tony Parker is the superstar and he gets the ball at the end of the game. It is their ability to continually improvise and switch roles that really makes them a remarkable team.

I don’t have any time to talk about the New York Knicks. I haven’t seen their games. Carmelo Anthony suffers from the Dirk Nowitzki syndrome as far as I can tell. He does not have that one move down the stretch where he can score or get fouled. Amar’e Stoudemire has the same problem. At best, it’s going to take the Knicks a year to learn to play together. I don’t think the New York fans are going to give them a year. Their coach is going to have to be great and great now in order to get his players to play at the level of the fan’s expectations.

My two cents. More tomorrow on how current teams fit into my formula.

By |2011-03-07T07:05:35-04:00March 7th, 2011|Domestic Issues|4 Comments
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