"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: 2011 nba finals

I Hope You're Happy

Pat Riley wasn’t angry at John Starks for the shooting guard’s poor performance in Game 7 of the 1994-95 Finals. He was disappointed in Starks for the decision he made at the end of Game 6. With only a few seconds left in the game and the Knicks trailing by a basket, Starks took an inbound pass. The play called for him to dump the ball down to Patrick Ewing who would then try and tie the game, sending it to overtime. Instead, Starks took a three-point shot, hoping to win it all. But it was blocked by Hakeem Olajuwon and the Rockets won the game.

That off-season, Riley wanted Starks to know how hard he would have to work in order to be trusted at such a critical moment again.

That moment never came.

The Mavericks beat the Heat last night to win the NBA Finals and there is a lot of talk about how the Heat will eventually have their day. It’s a safe bet that they will. However, Dan Marino never made it back to the Super Bowl after his second season, and there is no guarantee that LeBron James will make it back to the Finals either.

In the meantime, while I am one of many fans celebrating the Heat’s loss, I’m also pleased for Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs. Yup, this is just about the best way the season could have ended.

So So Def

Over at ESPN, Howard Bryant has a strong piece on Dirk Nowitzki and being a star player in the age of social media:

The truth, given time to breathe and be analyzed, is this: Nowitzki will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, the greatest player of his franchise, the best (NBA) player Germany has ever produced. He has proved it this year — especially during these playoffs, when the Mavericks have transformed themselves from a team not tough enough to win into a formidable out — and in previous years that he can carry a team early or late. The outcome of the 2011 NBA Finals will do nothing to change that.

The concept of the “instant legacy” has permeated sport and lowered the level of intelligent discussion regarding how the game is played and the players who play it. TV commentators assess a player’s entire career based on two minutes at the end of each game. Meanwhile, the second-by-second instant analysis on social media doesn’t stop when the buzzer sounds. James has been in the playoffs for seven years, carrying a nondescript Cleveland team that without him is once again invisible after six straight postseasons — and his critics are legion. Peyton Manning was once a weak playoff performer, but that changed when he won the Super Bowl against Chicago. Then he lost to the Saints and was somehow relegated back to being subpar in the clutch. Before last year’s seventh and deciding game between the Lakers and Celtics, the ESPN pregame roundtable asked aloud if Kobe Bryant — already the greatest player of his generation — needed to win that night to “cement his legacy.”

Newspapers and magazines have always engaged in the same type of hero construction and deconstruction. The difference now is the speed of the technology and its volume.

I still think Miami will win the series, and I assume that LeBron James will have a great game tonight but man, I’d like to see Dirk match him and have Dallas win their final home game of the season.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver