What a series, huh?
This years remarkable NBA Finals capped off with a remarkable Game 6, one watched by 23.5 million people, producing ABC’s best non-Oscar sunday in five years (and the most watched game 6 since Jordan beat the Jazz in 1998.
Now that the season is done, we’ve got plenty of time to get into intricate detail on how this year’s series stacks up against the greats. We’ve also got a lot of cool things a’brewing here at Saving the Skyhook for the offseason, including a live blog during the NBA Draft, but for now, I’d like to offer up some love for the first time NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.
Congrats to Jason Kidd and Jason Terry
It’s not just that the Mavericks are a team of veterans, it’s that they’re a who’s who of active NBA players that you assumed had won a ring somewhere along the way, but just hadn’t.
It was amazing watching Kidd and Terry play like this again. You saw the moments when their old selves snapped into consciousness, but with a control I just didn’t think was in them. They were the perfect teammates for a run like this. Whenever LeBron and Wade were struggling, the Heat struggled to trust anyone else to take control. Whenever Dirk and Chandler struggled, the Mavericks had plans B and C ready to roll.
Congrats to Mark Cuban
Continuing the theme that the Mavericks were poised and professional while the Heat started getting bratty, can ANYONE believe that Mark Cuban kept his mouth shut these past two months?
I’m secretly hoping that someone planted a secret microphone on Cuban before Game 1 of the Portland series and is planning to sell commemorative DVDs of the Playoffs with ‘Cuban audio commentary.’
I was reminded several times this year that Mark Cuban is rapidly becoming one of the smartest owners in the league. Beyond just the foresight to quietly bring in the right components for the Mavericks defense, or his commitment to lure in exactly who was going to compliment Carlisle’s game plan, he just studies the game really well.
He’s armed with a platoon of stats guys – not business guys – and can see things in the game as well as most NBA coaches. I watched him at Nerdfest 2011 (i.e. the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference) and watched him go toe-to-toe with some of the brightest guys in basketball.
Boy to be a fly on the wall when he walks into the next NBA owners meeting…
Congrats to Rick Carlisle
For finally emerging as a top-notch NBA coach and one of the better in-game coaches in recent memory. To put this into some perspective, Doug Collins, Doc Rivers and Tom Thibodeau were all tasked with the responsibility to figure out shut down Miami’s Big Three, how to keep control of the game, and how to adjust to what the Heat were doing in real time. None of them were fully able to prevent Miami from exploding at some point or another and going on a tear.
Carlisle used time outs exactly when he should have, and made the right adjustment every time. I remember one point when he literally moved Dirk’s entry pass position from the top of the key to three feet to the left. And it worked.
He’s the reason why the Mavs were able to battle back every time Miami opened up a lead. He beat Nate McMillan, Scott Brooks, Phil Jackson, and Eric Spoelstra (who happened to have Pat Riley sitting behind him on the bench).
Congrats to Dirk Nowitzki
I’m not entirely sure why, but beyond the list of guys I’m happy to see win a title, and beyond the story lines I’m happy to resolved, I think I really am happiest for Dirk.
Watching him play these past couple months has felt like watching the montage before the big fight in a Rocky movie; ‘Look at him get that defensive stop!’ ‘Hey, he’s got his shot back!’ ‘Look at him carry a tree trunk through the forest!’ ‘Could this be his year?’
About half way through the Lakers series, I realized that this was one of those runs. You saw this look in his eye that said he felt time running out. He’d worked tens of thousands of hours on this one goal, and he wasn’t going down without a fight.
It’s not often that you get to see a guy push himself into a second golden age of his career, but that’s what Notwitzki these past few months. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him play better than he did this postseason. The only concern I have is how much longer this level of dominance can last.
But I’m sure planning to enjoy it while I can.
Congrats to NBA Fans
It’s been a while since there was this much excitement about an NBA Finals. All due respect to the Lakers and the Celtics (because 2008 and 2010 was an amazing ride), this year’s Finals is exactly what the NBA needed heading into a CBA negotiation. It was compelling, exciting, strategic and darn, darn close.
One can only hope that when the Players and Owners sit down again, they’ll realize that the NBA is as compelling as it’s been in decades, and that the worst thing they could do to it is screw that up.