The Mavericks Corral the NBA Title

Dallas was in the same boat Miami is in today. Eventually, the Mavericks figured it out. Move over Cowboys, Dallas has a new champion. (MavsMoneyball.com)

 

The story of the 2011 NBA playoffs is not LeBron James or Dewayne Wade.  Let’s make that clear.  And no, don’t tell me it is, because you’re missing the point. The most important point.   

It’s also not about Miami, the hatred towards them, or even Cleveland.  Sorry Cleveland fans, but Dallas doesn’t want you gravy-training their parade.  They have waited 31 years for this night to happen, and no group of jilted lovers are going to crash this party.

The real story of these playoffs is the Dallas Mavericks and what they did to beat Miami, 105-95, to win the NBA Finals 4-2.

The knock on the Mavs were that they were soft and didn’t play defense.  That was true.  Their owner Mark Cuban was always a distraction.  That’s also true.

What changed? 

If you cut through all of the drama and the big stuff, the little things helped the Mavs win their first NBA title in team history.

1.  Rick Carlisle.  He brought a blue-collar aggressive defensive mindset to this team.  Yeah, sometimes they want to outscore teams, but Dallas bought into his program with the help of…

2.  Tyson Chandler, Brian Cardinal, and DeShawn Stevenson.  Chandler and Stevenson were essentially busts in the league.  They got a second chance in Dallas.  Chandler played in the Eastern Conference, where the only way to survive is to play physical.  Cardinal was always the “heavy” even during his days at Purdue.  Stevenson has remade himself into a dependable bench player.

Jason "Jet" Terry didn't win Finals MVP, but he was the Most Important Player on the team.

3.  Jason Terry.  If Dirk was going to have a bad game or struggle, Terry had to be the guy to pick up the slack and make the important plays.  Nowitzki said it as much early in the Finals.  Boy, did Terry ever, in a huge way.  Dirk may have won MVP, but Terry played like a MVP when they needed him to. 

4.  Bench.  The all-too important, and forgotten piece, to a good team.  Can your bench give you the minutes and do their job.  From Ian Mahinmi to Shawn Marion to Rodrigue Beaubois, the Mavs bench outplayed the Miami bench.  Mike Bibby and Zydrunas Ilgauskas should have asked Karl Malone and Gary Payton what it’s like to be dead weight on a playoff team in the Finals (see the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004). 

5.  Mark Cuban:  He may not say it, but I think he figured out that less is more when it comes to being the face of the Mavericks.  Cuban is a fan and is never afraid to defend his players and paying fines.  Keeping a low profile may have helped keep the distractions away. 

Considered to a be huge bust in the league, DeShawn Stevenson has finally found his role with the Mavs. (Tony Gutierrez - AP)

Finally…

6.  Dirk Nowitzki.  He was LeBron James for a long time.  Talented, one of the best in the league, a superstar…and a guy without a killer instinct and unable to win “the big game.”  It wasn’t a matter of if he would win, but when and how he was going to win a title.  The choke label has been taken off the big guy’s neck.  There was something a little different about him as the playoffs started.  He was hungrier, aggressive, and despite struggling early in Game 6, he kept playing his game.  When his game came back in the second half, Game 6 was over in the 4th quarter. 

I went Billy Packer and posted this on Twitter early in the 4th quarter (at 9:21 pm CDT): 

Romelle Slaughter II

@RHS76 Romelle Slaughter II
I will take a page from Billy Packer.  This is over.
10 hours ago via web

The Heat ran out of gas.  Dallas had the composure and the heart to win it.  They didn’t have that in the past.  

The team that had championship potential but could never show it, finally did by tweaking a few things.  It took some painful losses and heavy criticism over the years, but they figured it out. 

This will eventually serve as a lesson for Miami down the road.  If they choose to accept it.  Like the Mavs did. 

That is the real story of the 2011 NBA Finals.  Only if most of America would stop and understand the Mavericks’ journey from running joke to humbled champions.  If they choose to do so themselves.

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News and Sports Links – April 14, 2010

Justin Schoen of eComegy. (Eric Rowley/Juice)

I have several projects on the docket and I’ll be out and about on this wet day.  Let us get to the business of finding out what’s going on over the past few days. 

Before I do, I want to thank all of you for being patient and allowing me to keep the “Life Disrupted” post up for a few days.  I hope that it was a source of inspiration for my fellow friends and acquaintances who knew her.  As I said, I didn’t know Ashley very well, however my friends Pete Jones and Shawn Harrington did.  I’ll let you read their words on their blog “Des Moines is Not Boring.”

  • I never thought this day would come, but it has.  ABC has announced that “All My Children” and “One Life to Live”, their daytime bedrocks, will be cancelled.  AMC will bid adieu in September, OLTL in January.  Time to bid adieu to Erica Kane and Viki Buchanan.  My childhood memories have now been permanantly dismantled (I’m kidding).  It might be a good time wax poetically on soap operas one of these days. 

 

Erica Slezak, the actress who plays Viki Buchanan, on OLTL.

 

  • With the NBA playoffs looming, popular and oft-controversial national Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock spent a few days with LeBron James‘ friend and manager Maverick Carter.  While Carter and James continue to recieve bad press for how LeBron left Cleveland, Whitlock learns that Carter is taking the lessons from the debacle and have started to put them to good use as a savvy businessman. 
  • Tim Epstein from the impressive Sports Law Blog writes an opinion about the Illinois Legislature reigniting the debate over the hotly-debated “multiplier” rule that was put in place by the Illinois High School Association in 2005.  Basically, the concept of the enrollment multiplier is that it requires actual enrollments of non-boundaried schools be multiplied by 1.65 in determining classification in athletics competition.  As a result, this pits smaller private schools against much larger public schools, as an effort to bring the number of state championships won by private schools more in line with their smaller numbers relative to public schools. The Legislature is working on an amendment to do away with the multiplier rule. 
  • Silicon Prairie News‘ (in conjunction with Juice) Christopher New profiles a fellow friend of mine Justin Schoen and his company, eComegy.  eComegy is a commerce and marketing consulting firm here in Des Moines.  
  • There is some movement at ESPN according to The Big Lead.  Josh Elliott shocked the Worldwide Leader by announcing that he is heading to join ABC’s Good Morning America.  TBL reports that Kevin Neganhdi will replace Elliott on the live morning SportsCenter.  

Apparently, Chris Berman felt that it’s way too early for a 5:00 am wake-up call!  

That’s it for now. 

I still can’t believe that my favorite soap opera character is going away. 

I’m going to miss Viki Buchanan! 

A Year in Review

Blow out your candle, you little blog!!

As December has arrived, I’ve forgot to mark the 1st blog-(ann)-iversary of this site. I try not to wax poetic on it, but when I decided to “go all in” on writing this full time, I was unsure if I could do this on a consistent basis.

Coming up with topics, managing the site, using tags to bump my site up the search engine food chain, and to establish a consistent readership (though I would like to have a larger participation in comment-ship, but that’s me) is no small feat or easy.

It’s like working another part-time or full-time job, depending how much you invest into making your blog successful and give your loyal readers.

"We meet again. Remember me? British TV fans still talk about how my show ended."

I signed up for a WordPress blog in September of 2009.  My intent was to understand how to use it, how it would be beneficial for me and to build it in the way that was fit my personality and style.  The real purpose was to step out of the comforts of blogging for Juice.  I love that I still blog for Juice as a community blogger, but I noticed that there is a community of readers who don’t normally read Juice or the Register that I wanted to reach out to.  Why not start another one?

I wrote one blog when I started it, and then two more in November, before finally getting my feet wet.  So, in actual time, November 26th I began writing this.  For those who start blogging, there are some advice and rules that you need to apply once you join this world of blogs, social media, and the internet.

"They Call Me Mr. Tony! Mr. Tibbs have nothin' on me!"

Goal in mind: have a goal in mind on what you what to write about it or what your blog will be about.  It doesn’t have to be centered on one topic, but have a mini “mission statement” on your purpose.

Patience: unlike certain sports fans, lower your expectations on how many hits and readers you get starting out.  It takes awhile before people find your blog and start to read it.  Hint:  if you want to build a following, ask a friend to read your blog, critique it, and if said friend thinks it’s worth others to read it, they’ll start telling everyone else.  Consider that free publicity for you.

"I can't believe I lost to a guy who was modeling underwear in the 80's. Click my picture to read more about me."

Tag it: how do you get people to read?  Throw them a carrot.  I’m kidding.  Use tags, or keywords, to help you out.  If someone is Googling “SEO” or “LeBron James“, they will find websites or blogs that will have SEO or LeBron’s name in it.

Just write baby: Easiest advice to give.  Start writing.  Don’t worry, no one will see what you write, until you hit the “enter” or “publish” key.  Type it up and edit.  Shape your words in the way you want to convey them.  If something looks out of place or could be misinterpreted by someone, re-read it, edit, and then send it.

You are your own writer, reporter, editor, and publisher.  Without running a newspaper and hitting deadlines.

I have been blogging for nearly 5 years and this past year has been, in my opinion, my best blog year.  It forced me to dig deep and use that cranium of mine to write the way I have always wanted to write.

Not too bad for a late bloomer.

Fallout – Part 2 of “The Decision”

LeBron James is doing what is right for him, not for Cleveland or Dan Gilbert.

When an event happens, people have an immediate reaction to that event.  After a few days, people start to have a better perspective of the news and form a better opinion of what they saw.

Thursday night was one of those moments.  “The Decision” as ESPN called the one-hour prime-time special was the opportunity for LeBron James to announce what team he would be signing with.  Here are my impressions about it.

The telecast. What did you expect was going to happen? As someone who wants to expand his “brand”, LeBron and his “team” approached ESPN about airing this special.  ESPN, of course, force fed this coverage like building a buffet line for a hog.  But don’t mistake the idea that everyone at ESPN was willing to go along with the program.  Unless your name was Jim Gray.  He got paid for the entire shebang.  ESPN didn’t receive a penny.  Nice job of whoring yourself Jimmy boy.

Nevertheless, it was a trainwreck, ego trip, a kiss-the-ring ceremony, whatever you want to call it.

LeBron was better off cutting a check to the Boys & Girls Club of America rather than making ESPN sell ad space to the University of Phoenix and bing, and for those sponsors in turn give proceeds to the BGCA.  It was a poorly attempted effort to put a humanitarian face to the one-hour program.

WHO-TV's Keith Murphy. Comparing LeBron to Harrison Barnes is apples to oranges.

Apples to oranges. WHO-TV sports director Keith Murphy echoed a sentiment that I disagree with vehemently.  Comparing LeBron’s “announcement” to what Harrison Barnes did when he announced in November that he would play for North Carolina.  Pardon my french when I write the following:

It’s apples and oranges, Murph.

There are over 1500 highly-recruited prep athletes across the country who conducted their college declaration the same way that Barnes did.  He had to share Signing Day with those student-athletes.  Barnes conducted his announcement professionally, in contrast to the knuckleheads who basically threw a “Sweet 16” party for themselves.  When you are the #1 high school basketball recruit in America, you are held at a higher standard and you have to conduct yourself as a professional.

The difference with LeBron James and his announcement is that he is a paid professional athlete, not a teenager.  You never saw Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, or Amare Stoudamire get an one-hour show, not a press conference, to announce where they are going, unless they were retiring or being traded.  Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant “tweeted” that he was going to sign an extension with the Thunder.

I love Murph, but I disagree comparing a teenager to a pro athlete in respects to how they handled a press conference.  There is no comparison.

Loyalty be damned. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is a hypocrite when he espoused about loyalty and ripped LeBron in his letter to the fans last night.  If Gilbert was about loyalty, then why fire Mike Brown and GM Danny Ferry?  The Cavs have made the playoffs every year under this duo.  If it’s about loyalty, then why was Gilbert willing to overspend to get Tom Izzo to leave Michigan State to coach the Cavs, and yet not spend money to bring in another superstar to play alongside LeBron?  Gilbert has single-handedly undermined his team for the next several years. No agent or player will consider playing for Cleveland and Gilbert.  He damaged his “brand” by being childish and unprofessional.

Cavs' owner Dan Gilbert

James didn’t “quit” on the team or betray Cleveland fans.  He was a free agent.  He was free to sign with any team of his choosing.  He wasn’t under contract. In the business world, if you had an opportunity to get a better job, would you take it?  You damn right you would.  It’s about making the best decision for you, not for your employer.

LeBron is taking less money to join the Heat.  He came to the conclusion that winning a title is his priority.  The money, the royalties, and ad revenue will follow.

If employers, like Dan Gilbert, are not loyal to their employees, then how can they admonish the employee if he or she decides to leave for a new gig?  Gilbert threw James under the bus before Game 6 of the Cavs’ playoff series versus Boston.

If you don’t think James remember that slight while making his “Decision”, you would be wrong.

Fallout – Part 1 of “The Decision”

Move over Crockett and Tubbs. Get out of the way Golden Girls. Horatio Caine, your sunglasses are not fooling you. LeBron James is moving to Miami.

I decided to split the LeBron James story up in two parts.  Today, I’ll write about LeBron leaving Cleveland.  The second part, my thoughts on the telecast of “The Decision” will be in my next blog.

On Thursday morning, before noon, I tweeted the following statement to my good friend Phil James and Twitter friend Justin Volrath (if don’t believe me, my tweets are open for the public to see):

@DeMoJustin @PhilKJames If LBJ wants to evolve his “brand”, it’s NYC. If LBJ wants to stay loyal, it’s Cleveland. If he wants to win, MIA.

It’s was all about promoting his “name” brand (the prime-time “special”) and about business (signing with Miami).

Fans get too emotionally invested in stuff like this, and in return, they become irrational.  LeBron’s decision was about what was in the best interest for him, not for Cleveland.  It’s natural for fans to be upset or gleeful.  But, in the case of Iowa State fans on my Juice blog when Greg McDermott left for Creighton, fans go overboard and emotionally take it out on whomever aggrieved them.

I want to feel sorry for Cleveland fans, but I can’t.  They knew that there was a likelihood that James wasn’t coming back.  Remember Adrian Wojnarowski’s article I posted on Thursday?

James never shared that town’s (Cleveland’s) angst with the Browns and Indians. He wanted winners in his life, and rooted for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. He doesn’t feel the pain of a city’s broken heart. Shaquille O’Neal(notes) leaving the Orlando Magic for the Los Angeles Lakers 14 years ago was a hard hit, but LeBron bailing on Cleveland is far more devastating on a different level.

Everyone ridicules Cleveland, makes it a butt of jokes, but LeBron James has the chance to change all of that. And even then, it has to crush Cleveland’s sporting psyche that James could still walk out. If one of our own won’t stay, what does that say to the rest of the country?

-Adrian Wojnarowski, “State of LeBron:  Live at 9, his ego”, Yahoo Sports, July 7, 2010

What’s Cleveland known for?  Winning teams or agonizing losses?

“The Drive” and “The Fumble” (John Elway beating the Browns in the AFC title game twice)

“The Shot” (Michael Jordan’s series-winning shot over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo)

“The Catch” (Willie Mays’ over the shoulder catch of Vic Wertz’s hit in Game 1 of the ’54 World Series killed Cleveland’s momentum and they got swept by the Giants)

The 1997 World Series (Edgar Renteria’s GW hit off of Cleveland’s Jose Mesa aka “Joe Table”)

Maybe this will help joggle your mind:

Yeah, that’s why LeBron decided loyalty wasn’t going to win him a title.  He had several chances in Cleveland and fell short.  LeBron didn’t pick New York either.  The Knicks picked up Amare Stoudamire, but the Knicks have too many holes in their roster and the pressure to win a title right away was too much for him to shoulder.

Kevin Garnett found out the hard way about loyalty.  He was never going to win a title in Minnesota.  No matter how much loyalty he gave to the Timberwolves.  Owner Glen Taylor and GM Kevin McHale didn’t see the need to build a better roster around Garnett.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s inability to get top-of-the-line stars to surround LeBron was also a major part of this decision.  Do you think LeBron appreciates having B-/C+ talent around him and he has to bail them out all of the time?  Plus, it also doesn’t help when the gossip mills were churning over the rumors that fellow teammate Delonte West was getting busy with LeBron’s mom.

The picture of John Elway of the Broncos during "The Drive" from 1987, that crushed the Super Bowl dreams of the Cleveland Browns.

LeBron was best suited to go to Miami, where he had the best chance of winning a NBA title, with a championship veteran in Dwayne Wade and a budding superstar in Chris Bosh.

Remember the Lakers?  A superstar in Shaquille O’Neal, a budding superstar in Kobe Bryant, and role players like Rick Fox and Derek Fisher garnered three NBA titles. Michael Jordan had sidekick extraordinaire Scottie Pippen, rebounding savant Dennis Rodman, cagey vets like Ron Harper and Steve Kerr.  The Bulls won 6 NBA titles.

Mo Williams, Antwan Jamison, Anderson Varejao, and a bunch of scrubs isn’t going to help a superstar win a NBA title.

LeBron James was not going to win a title in Cleveland or in New York.  New York’s still picking up the pieces from the disastrous reign of Isaiah Thomas.  Dan Gilbert sold a bill of empty promises.  He can rip LeBron in that letter he sent out, but don’t buy Gilbert’s promise that the Cavaliers will win a title without James.

There’s no way in hell that will ever happen.  Not in Cleveland.

Don’t forget to “brand” what you do best

What is your "brand"?

I’m not sure if I want to offer an opinion of “LeBronapalooza” as LeBron James’ primetime announcement of what team he will play for draws near this evening.  I’m having too much fun re-watching Lindsay Lohan’s reaction to being sentenced to jail for 90 days for violating her probation and not reporting every week to a treatment center.

The buildup over where LeBron goes has reached a level that is unprecedented.

Adrian Wojarnowski of Yahoo sports offers a frank observation of the so-called “circus”.

Beyond that, there is no doubt that LeBron is about “branding” himself as a “global icon”.  He also knows that, similar to the business world, you can have a brand, but you have to deliver the goods (win a NBA title).  Maybe that’s the problem.  He’s focused solely on his “name” brand and not what he can bring to a team and the results.  Not branding what he is good at could be a detriment for him.

What you do well or what your strongest skills are, is what you brand.  Not the other way around.  If you’re branding yourself something that you are not, then you should sit down and figure out who you really are.

How do you “brand” yourself?

It’s alright to hate Kobe, but give the man his props

The Lakers celebrate after winning their 16th NBA title, after their 83-79 win Thursday night in Los Angeles.

On Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics, 83-79, in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.  As a result, the Lakers won their 16th championship, one shy of tying the Celtics for the most titles by a NBA team.

However, the talk on Twitter and Facebook wasn’t about the sloppy play and poor shooting that will make this game one of the worst Game 7’s or deciding games in NBA Finals history.

It was the continued deep-seated hatred towards Kobe Bryant.  That hatred is warranted, but there is no one who can’t doubt or rip how good of a player he is, even on a bad night like Thursday.  I’ve said before and I’ll hearken back to it:  you may hate someone, but you have to give that person props for achieving success, no matter how much you can’t stand it. No, his off-court transaction (rape) does not factor into his performance on the court.  The NFL inducts players into their Hall of Fame for what they did on the field, not off of it. The NBA views their Hall of Fame in the same light.

Don’t get me started on Cooperstown.  That’s a 600-word blog in itself.

He got scoreboard and you can't take title #5 from him.

As far as the discussion whether Bryant should be compared to one Michael Jordan, if Kobe shouldn’t be compared to Jordan, then everyone shouldn’t be compared to NBA legends. That includes LeBron James, who has yet to win a title.  LeBron’s no Jordan, Magic, Wilt, or George Mikan either.

Kobe may not be in Jordan’s “rarefied air,” but he does exudes everything Jordan did on the floor.

-Killer instinct:  Jordan put his foot on an opponent’s throat and crushed that guy’s windpipe.  Kobe has his foot on an opponent’s throat and suffocates that guy long enough to make him pass out.

-Play to win:  When it comes down to the playoffs, Bill Russell, Jordan, and Bird to name a few, played to win. Kobe doesn’t give a damn what you think of him, much like Jordan.  He came to win the game.  Not clown around like LeBron and his merry band of Cavaliers.

Sorry fellas. Clowning doesn't win titles. And no, Delonte, you're not getting your hot sauce in your bag. NSFW rap video linked to picture.

-The last guy to have the ball:  either they make or miss the game-winning shot, superstars are not afraid to say “give me the ball” at crunch time.

You can continue to hate Kobe all you want.  He’s not MJ, but you need to take that up with the so-called “experts” who have the stats and the history to back them up.  Just remember two important stats of the night:

83-79.

5th NBA title, 2 without Shaq.

You have to give Kobe Bryant props and some respect.  I was never a Magic Johnson fan, but I grew to respect him as a player. I couldn’t stand Charles Barkley back then.  Today, I don’t miss an interview he does because he’ll say anything to get my attention.

In due time, you’ll learn to do to same.

Eventually.

If you’re willing to.

Without being in denial.

Or something like that.