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.