Quick thoughts before Game 1 of the NBA Finals
5/31/2011, 8:49 p.m.
Tonight, the eyes of the majority of sports fans will be on South Beach where the Miami Heat host the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Like many people, I'll be stuck between a rock and a hard place on who to pull for this series (if you thought media folks didn't pull for teams, you're a fool).
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have taken a ton criticism for the way team was formed. LeBron's infamous "Decision" ticked off a few sports fans that still haven't gotten used to a player deciding his own fate (It's called free-agency. Welcome.) But it felt good to see a person determine where they want to work instead of someone else determining it for them. Yes, "The Decision was the ultimate display of arrogance, but much of the criticism (outside of what happens on the court) is completely unjustified. But the NBA's needed a team to hate for a long time and the Heat have filled the void.
Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks are going to their second NBA Finals in five seasons. Nowitzki reminds me of Patrick Ewing in that he's a hard-luck playoff loser who unnecessarily gets blamed for the shortcomings of his team. It wasn't his fault that Avery Johnson was punked by the Golden State Warriors when he (coaching a #1 seed) switched his starting line up to match up with an 8th seed squad. One man can't carry a team for an entire series regardless of how Michael Jordan fans try to revise the 1990's.
Dirk's been labeled "soft" on many occasions, but that was another falsehood. He's a big man who just happens to be a finesse player. Last time I checked, your size didn't determine how you played the game. The difference between the Dallas Mavericks teams from 2006 to 2010 and now is the additions of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood. With those two cleaning up the boards, Dirk has been able to do his thing. With Jason Kidd leading at point guard this is by far the best team Dirk has ever played for.
But if I had my way, James, Wade, Bosh, Nowitzki, and Kidd would all win the championship this year.
Nowitzki and Kidd are at the twilight or approaching the backside of their careers and this may be their last chance at a ring. I would love to see them snatch one. But James, Wade and Bosh have made a country angry by purposefully joining forces and if there's anything I love, it's irrational, angry sports fans. The Heat winning a title would establish the new kid on the block and spark a flurry of print and web space devoted to begrudging praise for young athletes taking their careers into their own hands.
But most of all, I just want some good games. Good games that we can talk about and dissect to the point of exhaustion. Here's to good basketball.