Saturday, June 11, 2011

Disappearing Act

The NBA Finals kicked off on May 31, and the Miami Heat catapulted out of the gate with a 94-86 win, where Dallas literally ran out time attempting to compensate a significant double-digit deficit through out the majority of the game.  LeBron James contributed 24 points, and almost made a double-double with 9 rebounds.  Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points in a losing effort.  Dallas was in the midst of a fourth quarter comeback and the clock was not on their side.  Twelve minutes can either save you or squash opportunity.

Funny thing happened soon after the clock clicked over to zeros with many sports analysts and fans alike from coast to coast… A plethora of bloggers, tweepers, and broadcasters were handing the shiny big ball trophy over to LeBron and the Miami Heat.  There I was rolling my eyes in disbelief with such phrases as, “ What??? Really? You have got to be kidding me… Do sports analysts and fans alike truly have that short of memory and recall? It’s the first game! Isn’t this best of 7 or did I miss a memo somewhere?” To say the least, I was a bit thrown due to the fact in the Eastern Conference Final game 1, Chicago Bulls slapped an “L” on Miami Heat winning 103-82.  I recall an “Ohhhhh” (enter any Soprano soundbyte here!) reaction after that game too.  Mystery hovered on the horizon. Would Miami be able to recover from the brutal loss handed to them from Derrick Rose and Chicago to reach a destiny King James discussed at a Boys and Girls club almost a year earlier at  “The Decision”?  So I professionally ask my fellow bloggers, fans, and sports analysts alike-  Are  we putting the cart in front of the horse here? Maybe.  For the sake of sensational argument and maybe those whom like the role of Devil’s advocate, I may consider and possibly  comprehend the amnesia and frank replies for the sake of spurring discussion (and/or reaction).

We have now come full circle and Dallas has come along to put their two cents in the bubbling pot of banter.  Game 6 will take place tomorrow, June 12, in Miami with Dallas Mavericks pulling away in the last 12 minutes to secure pivotal game 5 taking the series lead, 3-2 back to South Beach.  Dirk Nowitzki has risen to the occasion of doing everything he can think of possible to contribute and lift the Mavericks 48 minutes closer to what he came so close to acquiring in 2006 against the same team (and Dwyane Wade), an NBA title.  LeBron is not the only GREAT player blessing the hardwood floors of this championship. Dirk’s talents and moves remind me of Larry Bird (with the exception, I think Dirk is a bit more humble); He has the outside fade away at 15’, 20’, and behind the 3 point arc; he can post up and uses the board to his advantage of guaranteed shots; he thrives on pressure looking for the ball during the stretch to catapult his team towards winning; he is confident in his ability and skills, and if he has an angle shut down , he works every moment to persevere and overcome lapses.

On the other side of the court, there appears to be a slight problem with Scottie Pippen’s pick for GOAT (greatest of all time), or as he corrected himself later, greatest scorer of all time (I will address that current fallacy  remark in a momentito). There seems to be a disappearing act happening with King GOAT in the Heat uniform during the most crucial 12 minutes of any NBA game, the 4th quarter.  In game 4, LeBron had 8 total points. In game 5, he had 17 points, and a triple double, yet only 2 points made in the 4th.  On the other side,  Nowitzky had two double-double games with 21 points and 11 rebounds in game 4, and 29 points and 11 rebounds in game 5, and scoring more than 2 points, and I think in one of these last two games, I am fairly secure he’s scored 8 points (at least) in the 4th quarter.  So, everyone is pointing out how LeBron’s disappearing act may be contributed to a lack of confidence and exposing a couple weaknesses he may have in his game. Hmmm… Let me think about this, when the going gets tough, I think King James may be displaying a pattern of going M.I.A. (wow, what a coincidence… did not plan that pun but like it).  One of the first moments I recall Lebron James walking off the court after a loss to Orlando Magic in 2009 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

LeBron chose to walk away from Cleveland, unwilling to work on possibly becoming a franchise player working with the front office to take steps in bringing an NBA Championship to faithful Cavalier fans.  Do you think Boston, or Detroit were going to hand their viability over to Michael Jordan when he entered the league?  How about Dirk? And Cuban? How about their viability and body of work towards seeking a championship? After seeing Dallas pounce on Miami with an opening given to them with minutes left in game 5, it spurned me to share my two cents with Philly and Len Berman:

I initially wrote:

Quite honestly, analysts and sports fans alike are having a case of amnesia... Wasn't he the poor sport who walked off the court and pretty much QUIT playing when Magic slammed them 2 years ago??? Isn’t this the same LeBron we are seeing hints of now? The same LeBron that instead of lifting his teammates above their skills, pretty much QUIT on them and moved his "Talent" to Miami, instead of busting out and WILLING (or CHALLENGING) his team to win like oh, say Nowitzki’s displaying?

At this point, I’m seeing an immature pro player that has this incredible talent and moves on the court. He has the skills, he has the support, and components to attain a championship. King James does not have yet the full mature mental capacity, hunger, or desire that I've personally witnessed courtside watching GOATs such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan. There may come a day sooner than later where he becomes that whole package; for now, I am seeing an immature frustrated whiner... I don't see how (other than Heat fans and his teammates) anyone could be empathetic. 
Dirk and Dallas are hungry and possess an intangible unity, and cumulative drive to make their goal a reality. I want to see the German persevere!  He and Dallas truly deserve it! 
Philly replied:

I would have to respectfully disagree.  Dude had a triple double last night.  Yeah, Lebron was absent in the 4th quarter and that is something he needs to get better with, but IMHO (in my humble opinion), in the three previous quarters, he totally addressed the things his critics had brought up.  1) He has no post game.  Lebron was posting up like crazy earlier and had quite a few buckets that way.  2) He's too passive and looks disinterested.  Lebron ran the court, got his offensive rebounds and was a factor.  3) He's not shooting from the outside.  This one is still unanswered.  He looks as though he has no confidence in his shot but I also think because he's lacking the confidence, he doesn't want to shoot himself out of his slump and put himself in front of the team.  I kinda respect him for that.  Instead, he's getting the rest of the squad involved.  And if you remember from last night, ABC flashed a stat on the screen which showed the team played better with D-Wade off the court than with him on.  You can't fault Lebron for that.

And then I gave my rebuttal:

He needs to SHOW UP for ALL 4 quarters... the game is 4 quarters NOT 3... Jordan... KobeDuncan... even in shooting slumps NEVER gave up on their security or talent... If he in fact is having confidence issues, that is a sign pointing to lack of maturity and mental strength... 

Of Course, Philly couldn’t resist replying:

I still disagree.  I mean, I agree he needs to show up for all four quarters but I disagree about the lack of maturity issues and mental strength.  Miami wouldn't have made it past Boston or Chicago without him.

Of course, to that line all I have to say is… D Wade did it without him in 2006…

I finally heard back from Len:

Let's see how it plays out Suzanne, it ain't over til it's over :)

Indeed Len… It isn’t over. Between Thursday and Sunday, there are so many factors and external input to both sides of the argument. Ultimately, the scales of opinion will tip heavily towards one of the arguments displayed vastly across all social sports  mediums.  I’ve placed my two cents on one of those sides (actually it may add up now to possibly a half dollar). I am looking forward to Sunday and game 6.  Oh! I mentioned I would quickly address Scottie Pippen’s correction that LeBron is the greatest scorer of all time.  Well, he is not there yet. Wilt Chamberlain career points average is 30.1 for his whole career; if you take out his last three years, it would be quite a bit higher. Michael Jordan’s career average is at 31.5. LeBron currently sits at an average of 27.7. Considering he is not finished with his NBA aspirations, the jury remains out on the GOAT and greatest scorer opinion.  You can go back to my previous post, “Oh Snap” and review Kareem Abdul Jabaar’s open letter upon the subject.

Finally, I would like to share a link of what may be an ingredient fueling the flame in the Dallas Mavericks locker room… Again, I point back to my argument of mental maturity:


I leave it in your hands mighty sports fans… Put in your two cents! 

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