Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Bulls’

Dear Michael Jordan…STFU: How We Should Think About Super Teams and Corporate Monopolies

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

by Gus Griffin

gus

 

 

 

 

MJ

Michael Jordan is upset about the Warriors and Cavaliers being super teams while the other 28, in his words, “are garbage”.

Never mind the insult to the San Antonio Spurs, who would not fit the description of garbage in any era of basketball. Let’s keep the focus on Jordan the player and Jordan the owner.

Michael Jordan the player, was quite possibly the greatest ever and was the primary reason that his Chicago Bulls won the NBA title every year of his last 6 full seasons with the team. It wasn’t just his ability on the court. It was his willingness to play for a “mere” $3-4 million per season (he was making in the range of $36 million in endorsements). This gave his team a huge unfair advantage that they would eventually use to help secure Dennis Rodman and keep Scottie Pippen from leaving before his prime was up.

Michael Jordan the owner, apparently does not want other teams having the kind of advantage his Bulls had in his playing days.

The irony of it all is that the max deal restrictions on player salaries today is a direct result of Jordan’s last 1-year deal with the Bulls.  For the 1997-98 season, Jordan earned just over $33 million, which is still the single season record for a player. This salary was also more than the entire roster of 19 teams that year.

Back to Jordan the player, who once suggested if Wizards owner Abe Pollin could not afford the team that he should sell the team. Jordan would later work for Pollin in his last comeback.

The only conclusion that I can make about the contradictions between Michael Jordan the players vs Michael Jordan the owner is that when people win and/or get the outcomes they want, fairness is not a principle that is very important to them.

The same is true of American capitalism and its production of corporate monopolies. Despite the lessons that should have been learned from the near crash of 2008, less than 10 years later, the U.S. economy is increasingly being dominated by corporate mergers. Walgreens bought up Rite Aid, Heinz bought Kraft, and American Airlines bought US Airways. On Wall Street, the source of the near collapse, the 5 biggest banks hold nearly half the nation’s assets. An increasing trend is to mandate its customers and employees to agree to arbitration in disputes, thereby signing away their constitutional rights to a trial.

Why should we as sports fans care? Because the trends going on with super team formations in the NBA, though largely driven by a handful of the game’s superstars, will not affect your pension, civil liberties, or living wages. The trends going on with corporate monopolies absolutely will affect all of the aforementioned and yet we don’t personalize our indignation about corporate monopolies anywhere near to the degree that we do when attacking pro athletes.

I am not suggesting that this whole super team thing is something I particularly like as a fan of the game. It, without question, leaves a competitive imbalance. I am suggesting that we have idealized the NBA past as if this has never happened before.  The Bill Russel era Celtics won 11 titles in 13 years and the aforementioned Jordan era Bulls won 6 in 8 years. And yet the league survived just fine.  Even the Showtime Lakers, who won 5 titles, also lost 4 times in the NBA finals. Before the 1982-83 season, the 76ers added the late great Moses Malone, arguably the best player in the league at the time. He would be the final piece to a team that had made it to the NBA finals 2 of the previous 3 years, and already had Julius Erving. They cruised through the regular season and playoffs before sweeping my defending champion Lakers for the title.  It looked like at the time that the Sixers would win multiple titles.

They never won another.

In sports, the impact and collateral damage of super teams is relatively minimal and history has shown that the game will survive their fluctuating eras. The same cannot be said of capitalistic America and its corporate monopolies. I would hope we reserve our outrage for the real danger between the two.

 

Gus Griffin, for War Room Sports

WRS Book Review: Phil Jackson – Eleven Rings

Friday, December 13th, 2013

by Jimmy Williams

jameswilliamsblog

 

 

 

 

 

11 Rings

 

 

Part Basketball, Part Management, & Part Leadership

Last time I wrote a review I had just finished my 37th book. Well yesterday I just finished my 42nd book of the year and I’m 81% at my goal of 52 books this year. Yes I’m still bragging but I need to step it up, considering I’m 14% behind schedule.  Yes, I have a thing for meaningless data (judge ya mother).  At any rate, let’s talk about the Phil Jackson book, “11 Rings”.

Good quick read. The book is as different look at all 11 championship runs presided over by Phil Jackson. It always amazes me at how much preparation, energy, and thought go into a single game or series. This book shows how mental the game of basketball is. This is refreshing these days, considering our country celebrates mediocrity and stupidity (don’t believe me, watch TV).  It is also interesting to see his perspective on players like Jordan, Pippen, Kobe, and Shaq.  His ability to find various ways to motivate each player on his teams is what allowed him to have the success he had.  Many look at Phil’s accomplishments and give them the Stuart Scott crooked eye because he had very talented teams.  There isn’t one successful coach in any sport who won at a high level without talent, so FOH.  Phil Jackson is the greatest coach of my generation and in my personal opinion, Phil Jackson has the best books when it comes to coaches. The reason for this is because his books are part sports stories, part self- improvement, and part management & leadership. This book is no different.  Many will feel I enjoyed this book because I’m a Lakers fan, and part of that may be true, as it is good to hear the stories behind the great Laker teams.  I also believe you will enjoy this book if you are not a fan of Phil, the Lakers, the Bulls, or even basketball.  His philosophies and mental approach to a child’s game make this book that interesting.

 

Jimmy “The Blueprint” Williams of The War Room, for War Room Sports

Does LeBron James have the potential to be better than Michael Jordan?

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Michael Jordan: The Gift and the Curse

Friday, June 1st, 2012

By Brandon McConnell

The game of basketball has been around for years.  We have seen multiple teams win championships over the years using different ways of getting there.

In the ’80s, we had three teams in that decade that won multiple championships, which included the Lakers, Celtics, and Pistons.  All of these teams had something in common.  They were complete teams that played together in order to accomplish one common goal. 

The Lakers had a starting lineup that included:
Magic Johnson
Byron Scott
Michael Cooper
James Worthy
Kareem Adul-Jabbar

The Celtics had a starting lineup that included:
Dennis Johnson
Danny Ainge
Larry Bird
Kevin McHale
Robert Parrish

The Pistons had a starting lineup that included:
Isaiah Thomas
Joe Dumars
Mark Aguirre
Bill Laimbeer
James Edwards

All the above championship teams had players who came together and played team basketball.  These teams had productive bench play and no one was trying to outshine their teammates.

Then came the birth of Michael Jordan.  A player who took over the NBA by himself, taking on all teams.  He led the league in scoring almost every year.  If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you wanted to “Be Like Mike”.  Michael Jordan, not purposely, taught little kids to be selfish and go after your individual stats to succeed in basketball.  After many years of losing to the Celtics and Pistons, Michael realized that it took a team effort to become a championship.  He finally figured it out, and partnered with Scottie Pippen and other great role players to win six NBA championships.

While becoming a champion, Michael Jordan birthed children like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Tracy McGrady.  These and other players came into the league with the belief that they had to win championships by solely leading their teams and by putting up the majority of shots like Michael did in order to become great.  Kobe Bryant quickly learned, due to veteran leadership around him, that it takes a team to win championships.

The offspring of Michael Jordan has finally grown up to become great players.  They are finally teaching the up and coming players that team basketball is the way to go.  Just take a look at the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats, who were dynamic underclassmen that came together to achieve one goal and that was a National Championship.  The Kentucky Wildcats all compromised their individual success in order to gain team success.

The NBA is finally getting back to great team basketball.  The Dallas Mavericks won last year with great team effort.  They even had bench players like Jason Terry and J.J. Barea who really made the difference during the 2011 NBA Finals.  This year you have the San Antonio Spurs, who just had a 20-game winning streak snapped, playing the best team ball I have ever seen.  If you want to see basketball the way Dr. James Naismith designed it, watch the San Antonio Spurs.

We can all thank Michael Jordan, because he showed us how life was when you have all the individual honors and no championship and how life is when you make your teammates better and win multiple championships.

Brandon McConnell of “Respect Da Game”, for War Room Sports

The Dwight Howard Story: Superman Has Left the Building…or Maybe Not?

Monday, March 19th, 2012

By Brandon McConnell

The big story around this year’s NBA season has been what team will Dwight Howard play for in the future.  At the beginning of the year, Dwight told the Orlando Magic’s executives that he would like to be traded to the Lakers, Nets, or Mavericks.  The Orlando Magic listened to trade offers the first half of the season, turning them all down hoping Dwight would change his mind and stay with the team.  In the words of Jesse Jackson,  they were “keeping hope alive”.

The big rumor surfacing throughout the league was Dwight opting out of his deal and joining Deron Williams in New Jersey.  This was the obvious plan for the last three months.  Orlando even believed this was the plan since Dwight would not accept a max contract with them that would pay him $109 million dollars.

As the trade deadline approached, you heard a new rumor on Dwight every hour of the day.  Dwight wants to go to the Lakers.  Dwight is going to team up with Derick Rose in Chicago since they are both with Team Adidas.  Dwight is going to New Jersey with “D-Will”.  You never heard Dwight wanting to stay in Orlando.  He even told management that he was not going to stay.

So Orlando management starting fielding offers from the league to seek the best deal they could get for Dwight Howard.  In the 11th hour, Dwight Howard developed a conscience and decided to opt-in to one more year with the Orlando Magic for $19 million because he felt like he owed his teammates and the fans of Orlando since he showed such a lack of loyalty throughout the season.  What is he thinking?  Dwight Howard is that guy who breaks up with his girlfriend and asks her back at the end of the day because he started feeling bad.

People always want to give LeBron a hard time, even myself, but one thing I can respect about LeBron is he did exactly what he wanted to do and didn’t give a damn what anyone else thought.  By Dwight staying one more year for $19 million dollars, he risks being hurt and getting paid a whole lot less next summer.  If he wanted to stay in Orlando, in the words of DMX in Belly, “GET THE  MONEY YO”.  He could have signed a max deal for $109 million dollars.  If he is staying one more year to be nice to the people of Orlando, that is dumb since you will be a free agent next year and have to go through the same media circus again.

In concluding, Dwight, if you want be the “MAN OF STEEL”, start first by trying to be a MAN!

Brandon McConnell of  Respect Da Game, for War Room Sports

Is Michael Jordan Really a Sellout?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

By Devin McMillan

Charlotte Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan walking into a labor meeting last week.

 

Last week, before the news of child sexual abuse at Penn State University rocked the sports world, the newswire was abuzz with another story.  It had been rumored that certain circumstances in the NBA labor negotiations were causing current NBA players to see their childhood idol and proverbial hero, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, in an entirely different and negative light.  Much of the subsequent conversation surrounding  this topic was sparked by a column written by Jason Whitlock for Fox Sports, labeling “His Airness” as a “sellout” for being the “hard-line front man” for NBA ownership’s eagerness to roll back the amount of revenue shared with the players on a yearly basis. 

Jason Whitlock calls “MJ’s” stance the “ultimate betrayal” due to the fact that the league is now filled with young, Black players who grew up worshipping Jordan and purchasing his overpriced shoes and apparel, ultimately helping to make him and his brand the financial titans they are today.  He thinks Michael Jordan is betraying the same players’ union that went to bat for him and forced the Bulls to pay him $30 million per, in his final two seasons in Chicago.

Though all the aforementioned information is indeed fact, there is one huge flaw in this overall line of thinking.  Michael Jordan is no longer an NBA player.  He is the owner of an NBA franchise.  On behalf of that franchise, Jordan has recently been engaged in negotiations where he’s sat on the other side of the table from the players.  Michael Jordan is no longer obligated, nor would it be intelligent for him to think along the lines of, or fight for the wants/needs of NBA players.  He is majority owner of the small-market Charlotte Bobcats; a team that has struggled in the standings as well as in the stands.  The team’s average attendance last season was 15,846, leaving 16.9% of Time Warner Cable Arena’s seats empty on a nightly basis.  The team does not have a transcendent superstar, nor could they afford to keep one succeeding the years of a rookie contract, if they were lucky enough to acquire one in the draft in the first place.  His team also resides in a city that has once already failed as an NBA market, losing its first NBA franchise to New Orleans.  The franchise has been losing money since the moment Jordan purchased it from BET founder Bob Johnson in February of 2010.

So why is it again that Jason Whitlock, NBA players, or anyone else with interest in this story, thinks that Michael Jordan should go out of his way to be the voice of the NBA player in these negotiations, to the detriment of his business?  I don’t think anyone should be labeled a sellout for giving a damn about their bottom-line as a business owner.  The current economic landscape of the NBA is not beneficial for many owners of small market franchises.  So why shouldn’t they fight to change it?  Why is there a growing sentiment that Michael Jordan owes the current crop of NBA players anything?

This isn’t the first time Michael Jordan’s name has been synonymous with the term “sellout”.  Jordan has never been of similar pedigree of socially-conscious superstar athletes of the past, such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson, etc.  He has always garnered criticism for never lending his name or using his power, influence, or iconic status to get on the front lines of any pressing social issues.  So, if social activism is what you look for in your influential, superstar athletes, call him a sellout for that.  You’d still probably be toeing that fine line of ignorance, but at least the sentiment would be somewhat understandable to at least a certain rational portion of the population.  But to imply…or to flat out say that a business owner is a sellout for looking out for the best interest of his business, is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion.

I attribute this line of thinking to the overwhelming “employee mentality” prevalent in our society.  Everyone wants to walk around calling themselves “bosses” but think in a manner opposing everything a boss stands for.  I often hear fans sing cries of empathy for athletes while lauding the position of ownership in sports.  No one (obviously Jason Whitlock included) puts themselves into the shoes of the men who invest hundreds of millions of dollars into sports franchises.  People who live lives content with working for comfortable pay while making the next man rich do not seem to understand the risks involved with investments on this level…or any other level for that matter.  They’ve been brainwashed to believe that the person who could potentially get injured on the next play takes all the risks in a labor relationship.  But none of the “employee-minded” realize the risk of leveraging a fortune to run a sports franchise.  When your biggest work-related investment is a full gas tank or a functional bus pass, I expect you to think this way. 

For Jason Whitlock or anyone else to hold these types of expectations of Michael Jordan just because he was once a player is reminiscent of how struggling Black people expected their struggles to be eradicated because Barack Obama got elected president.  Michael Jordan is a team owner now and Barack Obama is president of America, not Black America.  He would have had to have been elected the president of Zamunda to remotely have a shot at fulfilling those silly expectations. 

In actuality, I wish this story wasn’t even about Michael Jordan.  I say this because I’m certain that many people will agree with my sentiments, albeit for the wrong reasons.  People will agree, not due to any profound business-related points I may have think I’ve made regarding this topic; but simply because negative-speak about “MJ” has been deemed as blasphemy in many circles.  Well, this isn’t one of those circles.  Michael Jordan has personality flaws, just like the next man.  If you’ve ever met your hero in person, outside of a camera-filled setting, then you probably know exactly what I mean.  It is also trendy in many circles (especially Black ones) to vehemently oppose anything written by Jason Whitlock.  I don’t subscribe to that methodology either.  As with any sportswriter or writer in general, each piece is met with the same high level of objectivity and my opinion of that particular piece will be formed as I read it.  I don’t allow myself to form an overall opinion of the man based on each of his individual writings.  Whitlock has written plenty of material that I have absolutely agreed with, but he has also written plenty that I’ve thought to be utter malarkey (to borrow a term from my sports media colleague, Brandon Pemberton).

So yes, Michael Jordan has made a fortune selling overpriced shoes, sugarless juice, and horsemeat burgers to idol-worshipping, Black, inner city youth.  Feel what you will about that fact, but keep in mind that we all had a choice.  Yes, Michael could have been more active in the plight of “his people”, but I guess that just wasn’t his thing.  Yes, MJ’s “brand” has always been more important to the man than anything that you and I have tried to deem important for him.  However, Michael Jordan’s example taught today’s players how to be “brands” in the first place.  Without the path that he laid, the Lebrons, the Kobes, the Wades, and the Durants of the world would have never even begun to realize their full earning potential in this league.  “MJ” has done more than enough for these players.  He doesn’t owe them anything more.

Devin McMillan of The War Room, for War Room Sports

LeBron James: Performance Befitting a King?

Monday, June 13th, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

A dejected LeBron approaches the podium after Game 6 of the NBA Finals

Last night as I watched the Dallas Mavericks win their third straight game and capture the first NBA title in franchise history, I still couldn’t believe how LeBron James wilted under the pressure in the biggest games of the season.  James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to “take his talents” to South Beach and join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in what was supposed to be a super power this season and for seasons to come.  I had no real problem with him joining the Heat. He had no shot of winning with the Cavs the way they were constructed and I thought it was big of him to go to a team where he wouldn’t be the sole guy.  It’s a known fact that it was Wade’s team and he had a proven track record of clutch play as he was the finals MVP in 2006. The only problem I had was with the whole “Decision Show”, and the WWE- like celebration the next day, like they had already won something.  He asked for all of the ridicule and verbal thrashing he received because of these things.

Everyone who has followed my sports blog knows that after LeBron’s performance against the Celtics and Bulls en route to the NBA Finals, I finally thought James had ascended to “that level” of a player.  I even went out and said he was now better than Kobe Bryant (http://warroomsports.com/blog/2011/05/12/lebron-scores-10-straight-to-close-out-the-celtics-is-that-clutch-enough-for-you/).
First of all, I would like to apologize to the “Black Mamba” for spewing that blasphemy from my mouth before LeBron even won a single title.  But I really thought I had seen him take it to another level.  He was closing out games down the stretch by hitting killer shots and after watching the way he defended Derrick Rose, I was sold.

But then came the NBA Finals and the unexplainable, passive play of the most physically talented athlete I’ve seen in my life.  It’s just a flat out choke job, no other way for me to explain it.  D-Wade said last night after the game that the phrase “choke job” is used too often in sports, and he might be right in some situations.  But in this case, his homie, his teammate, was a flat no show when the Heat needed him the most.  The Heat had a chance to take control of the series.  They were up by 15 points in the fourth quarter with seven minutes and change to play and coughed up the lead, being outscored 22-5 to end the game.  LeBron scored two points during the fourth period of the game, and didn’t make a single basket during the run Dallas went on to steal Game 2.

In six games, LeBron James scored 18 fourth quarter points.  He seemed to defer to Wade and even to his other teammate when he could have forced the issue.  He just seemed disinterested, passive, and scared to take over the game when he clearly was the most talented player on the court.  Last year in the playoffs, James clearly quit on his team in Games 5 and 6 against the Boston Celtics and I couldn’t believe it.  I can’t say he quit on his team this time around, but he wanted no part in making a difference in the outcome of this series.  Watching him drive and dump the ball off to the likes of Juwan Howard and Joel Anthony instead of taking the shot himself was frustrating to watch.

Scottie Pippen’s (who played with arguably the best basketball player of all time) unmitigated gall to say that LeBron James was (or could be) better than Michael Jordan was irresponsible.  I don’t know what personal vendetta he has with “His Airness”, but you see he later took those words back the next day. The lowest point outcome in an NBA Finals game by Jordan was 22 and I’ve seen him carry the Bulls to a victory and nearly pass out coming off the floor due to the flu. People also want to compare LeBron to Kobe Bryant, who might be the closest thing to MJ we will ever see, but Kobe never disappeared in the fourth quarters of games.  And one thing I can say about Jordan and Kobe, they never loss for lack of effort.  Yes, D-Wade made some costly mistakes in the 4th quarter of last night’s game, but he made those mistakes playing his game and going hard.

The bottom line is this: a player with his talent, the hype, the self-given nickname, the cocky attitude and arrogance, should expect to get ripped the way he is today and will continue to during this off-season and until he wins a title.  And his post-game comments aren’t going to help him either.  His whole “I’m better than you at the end of the day” attitude and the “my life is still better than yours” thing is just going to get him more” haters”.  He acts like the fans are the reason why he was out-played by Jason Terry in a Finals playoff series.  “Prince” James has no one to blame but himself for the lack of testicular fortitude it takes to win a title.  He had more talent than he had in Cleveland and he still couldn’t get the damn job done.  So until he wins a title, don’t dare compare this man to the likes of Jordan, Magic,Bird, Shaq, and Kobe.  He doesn’t deserve it.  You know what LeBron is?  He’s the equivalent of having a 12-inch penis (pause) that doesn’t get erect.  Ok, I’m done with this guy.  I’m looking forward to the NBA Draft and hopefully a full 16-game football season.

Brandon Pemberton of Brandon on Sports, Blogger for War Room Sports

Monta for Iggy???

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

This morning I wake up to check my email and I come across a report by Mark J. Miller of Yahoo sports (http://goo.gl/YsEgH) saying that there are strong rumors going around that the Golden State Warriors would be willing to trade guard Monta Ellis to the Philadelphia 76ers for forward/guard Andre Iguodala.   ESPN’s and former NBA point guard Mark Jackson was named head coach last night and the Warriors are looking to make changes to their franchise.  The trade makes some sort of sense for both teams and I’ll tell you why from my point of view.

The Warriors started a talented backcourt of Ellis and 2nd year point guard Stephen Curry, and they were effective offensively.  But their lack of size and defensive ability was a hindrance all season.  Both of them are only 6’2”-6’3” and teams would use their bigger guards to post up and put them in pick and roll situations.  A trade for Iguodala would give the Warriors a bigger wing player to go alongside Curry and a legit defender that this team desperately needs.  Golden State plays an up-tempo type of basketball and Iguodala would be the perfect fit.

The Sixers lacked a legit number one scoring option this season and because Iguodala was the highest paid player, most Sixers fans thought he should be that.  But he’s not, and he caught hell during his career here after he signed that big contract a few years ago, for not developing into the player the Sixers thought he would.  Monta Ellis would give the Sixers a legit scoring option on the perimeter and go to guy.  Ellis has averaged 24.5 ppg over the last two seasons, but has the tendency to take shots early in the shot clock and makes no effort on the defensive end.  He also has three years left on a contract paying him $11 Million per year.

I’m in favor of moving Iguodala for sure, but I don’t want another big contract back in return (like Rudy Gay).  Monta Ellis is a good player, but is he good enough for the Sixers to avoid being a 7 or 8 seed yearly, and make it out of the first round of the playoffs?  The right medley of front office decisions can take you from a laughing stock to a game away from the conference finals (check out the Grizzlies), and even though the Sixers will have to deal with the Miami Heat for the next five years, along with the Bulls and Knicks, they need to make progress.

I’m all about winning it all, not making lateral moves to just stay in the middle of the pack or stay afloat.  The way the NBA is currently structured, the only way to get out of purgatory is to dump salary and/or get lucky in the NBA lottery and make the right draft pick.  The Cleveland Cavaliers have a $14 Million trade exception they can use and if I were the Sixers, I would try my best to ship Iggy’s ass there.  But hey, I’m not the General Manager.  I’m just tired of the circle of mediocrity this franchise has displayed since the trip to the Finals in 2001.  It has been a damn decade and it has to stop.

Brandon Pemberton of Brandon on Sports, Blogger for War Room Sports

Mavericks’ Road Back to NBA Finals Reads Like a Hollywood Script

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

By Jason Parker

Mavericks vs Heat (2006 NBA Finals)

You can’t make this stuff up.  Death Wish, The Crow, Gladiator, Man on Fire, nothing gets a guys’ heart pumping like a good revenge flick.  Could Mavs vs. Heat 2011 join the list of great payback pictures?  

After five years of exile to a barren wasteland, a trio of men returns to avenge the loss of their collective manhood at the hands of the evil NBA Empire.  Sounds like the tagline for a movie, but it’s befitting the scenario that has unfolded in the last forty-eight hours of playoff basketball in The Association.   Make no mistake, Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Terry have been in playoff purgatory for the past five years after being emasculated by the Miami Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals.  For those that have been stranded on a deserted island for half a decade or so, the Mavs were up two games to none over the Heat, and were well on their way to a three-game lead when Dwayne Wade (and maybe an official or two) went out of his mind and carried his team to four consecutive victories to steal the championship.  What followed was a downward spiral of epic proportions: four out of the next five seasons ending in first round flameouts, and the other ending in the second round.  Inevitably, Nowitzki and Terry were painted as good, but soft players that wilted under playoff pressure.   And now here we are, five seasons later, and the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat (pending the formality of their inevitable close-out win over the Bulls), are preparing to cross swords for the right to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.  It’s Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd leading their band of role players and refugees from the island of misfit hoopsters against the heavily-favored tropical triumvirate from South Beach.  It’s David vs. Goliath, Rocky vs. Apollo Creed, and Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader.   Most of those outside of Florida will be rooting against the Heat after Lebron’s unceremonious dumping of his hometown hoops bride, Cleveland, for better-looking trophy wife, Miami, last off-season.  Thus, we have our hero and our villain that everyone loves to hate.

Darth Vader vs. Luke

 

Rocky Vs. Apollo

You certainly won’t hear Nowitzki or Terry verbally acknowledge their thirst for retribution, but have no doubt, that fire burns within them.  It has forged them into a strong, polished blade with a keen edge that, in all honesty, was lacking in other deep playoff runs.  But will that edge be sharp enough to sever the grip Wade, James, and Bosh already seem to have on the NBA’s greatest prize?  Most will say no, but this Mavericks team has been proving us all wrong throughout the postseason;  first by beating the younger, more athletic Trailblazers in the first round, then sweeping the two-time defending champion Lakers in the second round, and finally by vanquishing the up-and-coming Thunder in five games.  Only time will tell if Dallas’ new-found mettle will prove strong enough to carry them to a championship, but we can all get our popcorn and soda,  and enjoy watching the underdog Mavericks try to defeat the villainous Heat in a good, old fashioned grudge match.  This writer can’t wait to see how the story ends.    

Will the Mavs win the next Trophy?

Jason Parker, Blogger for War Room Sports

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry

Gladiator

Can Dirk Win It All and Take His Place as a True All-Time Great?

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

By Brandon Pemberton

I have been one of the biggest critics of Dirk Nowitzki over the years and I have no problem admitting it.  Whether it was he and the Mavs being up 2-0 in the 2006 NBA Finals and losing four straight to lose the title, or winning the MVP, along with 67 games, only to be knocked out of the 1st round of the playoffs by eighth seeded Golden State in 2007.  It was hard after those two seasons not to label Dirk “soft” and as one of those guys who came up short in big spots.  I thought he relied too much on the 3-point shot when he could post guys up on the block and use his size.

This year in the playoffs Nowitzki has taken his play to a new level and it’s amazing to see him play this well.  In my eyes he was already a first ballot hall of famer and the greatest foreign player the NBA has ever seen, but he is on a flat-out tear.  In fifteen playoff games, he is averaging 28.4 ppg and 7.5 rpg, while shooting 51% from the field, 51% from the three point line, and 93% from the foul line.  I have to say, in my lifetime, this has been one of the better playoff performances I’ve seen.

There has been a transformation of sorts in Dirk’s game.  He relies less on standing at the three point line and shooting spot up jumpers like he did in his previous years.  He now operates in the mid-post area and abuses defenders by using his 7 foot frame and high release to score with ease.  His array of fall-away and off-balance shots he has mastered is like nothing the NBA has ever seen.  There has never been another player at his size with this style of game in NBA history, with his ability to put the ball on the floor, shoot, and face up from 16-20 feet out.  He has even become a better rebounder and puts forth more effort on the defensive end as well.

Now that he has led the Dallas Mavericks back to the NBA Finals for a second time, he has the chance to mark his place as one of the NBA’s all-time greats with a win over the Miami Heat or the Chicago Bulls.  I would love to see him finally win a title personally, but if the Heat holds on to win the East, it’s going to be tough.  But let it been known, Dirk is playing the best basketball of his career and will give the Mavs a legit chance at winning it all.

Brandon Pemberton, Blogger for War Room Sports