Someone is leaving the list. With Derrick Rose joining the elite few who have won MVP’s but never a title (he still has plenty of time to get out of it), Dirk Nowitzki or LeBron James will be getting their names chalked off when the 2011 NBA Finals series is over. But who deserves it more?
We have to make a competition out of everything, and despite having two guys who really deserve and warrant having an NBA title ring along with their MVP awards, All-NBA first teams, All-Star appearances and such, someone will go down in this series with nothing in his hands. For Nowitzki, it may be another “final opportunity”. This time for real. Making that kind of effort, squeezing that much from an again squad for another season? I don’t see it happening.
LeBron James? He’s 26. Has plenty of time. He can let this one slip by and let Nowitzki have one, right? Of course not. Another year without a title means more pressure. LeBron and the Miami Heat handled the hate, the scrutiny and all their rough patches, looking back at the entire season and where they are now, wonderfully. They were maligned just for wanting to play together, for making a sort of “super-group”. LeBron more than anyone else. And he triumphed. Well, nearly. There are still four more wins to get.
Maybe the amount of post season heartbreaks are what will determine this argument – LeBron James did reach the NBA finals once, but I don’t think that sweep against the Spurs really burnt into his soul. No one expected the ’07 Cavs to get there. I think the pain only came in ’09 and ’10 – When the Cavs lost to the Orlando Magic in the conference finals and a year later, when LeBron James got branded as a quitter when the Boston Celtics destroyed Cleveland. He excoricsed those demons this post season, but played even better in the next series against the Bulls.
Nowitzki? He had his heart broken in 2006 and 2007. Everything after that, the first round exits came without that kind of expectations. At least not from the outside. I don’t know how it felt like in the Dallas camp over the last five years, but after their first round exit against the Warriors, after getting the best record in the league, after Nowitzki won the MVP, it seemed like a long long road towards the end, with no silverware at any stop. I think they’re both even here.
What’s better for the league? I don’t know about better, but I think more people would like to see the Mavericks win it. Miami’s success in these playoffs and especially LeBron’s fourth quarter abilities every night have kind of dimmed the hate candles, but I still get that kind of buzz of people waiting for the Heat to fall. If they do win, the winds will change. Everybody likes winners, and feeling of the past, created for no reason actually, quickly disappear. Still, there was a celebration going on when the Bulls delivered the game 1 blow. Who knew it wasn’t going to last very long?
Dallas haven’t really made anyone pissed about, well, anything. Yeah, they do have Mark Cuban, but I think that it’s mostly David Stern that hates him. They even knocked off the Lakers, usually the least favorite team around the league’s fans. I think Stern is frightened from the fact that the Heat set some sort of precedent for “easy winning”. That’s kind of BS, but he isn’t the only one thinking it while others are also saying it.
More stars on less teams – franchises getting terminated. The NBA’s too big anyway. People are losing money, and we’re headed towards a lockout. Last thing Stern wants is proof that the Heat way wins. What about the 2008 Celtics? In public preception, that wasn’t a villianous move. There was no “plotting” by Garnett-Pierce-Allen to come and play together. They’re ok. Miami? LeBron James? Evil, at least for now.
I always have a thing for the East against the West, and that’s who I’m backing this time. The Dallas Mavericks did beat the Miami Heat twice in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean squat. The Bulls beat the Heat three times in the regular season. The way LeBron James is playing right now is just too good. With a functioning or off the mark Dwyane Wade, James and Bosh are getting it done.
They might not be able to stop Nowitzki, but right now, Miami are the best defensive team in the league, and are getting better and better on both ends of the court with every progress they make in these playoffs. Maybe Nowitzki deserves the title just a bit more, for veteran and experience purposes alone. I still think and wish the Heat take this one. Like I’ve written in the past, I like it when the best player in the league wins and gets what he deserves. LeBron James is the best player in the league.
Still, can’t get the image of Stern forced to congratulate Cuban out of my head.