We're day away from a nearly inevitable NBA strike that could potentially rob us of games from the 2011-2012 NBA season. July Free Agency, Summer League, summer trades - none of these will happen. The 2011 NBA Finals could be the last professional basketball event for me to criticize and ruminate over until potentially December (please God, no). As such, I can't stop thinking about the Dallas-Miami matchup that ended over 2 weeks ago.
I wrote a post during the second round, discussing that it might just be time for the sun to set on my NBA.
But Dirk, Kidd, Marion and JET gave us at least one more year.
With LaMarcus, Durant, Westbrook, Wade, Bosh and LeBron all nipping on their old, arthritic heels, the Mavs fended off the young'ns, refusing to switch from a modem to broadband. This title win for the vets leaves Nash and Iverson as the only two elite player from their era without a ring - pretty impressive.
But despite a 16-4 record this playoffs, there's no way that anyone can say this Mavericks team is designed for the long haul. Marion is the young man on the squad here at the tender age of 32, and Jason Kidd could be a season away from retirement. Unless they can pull off a great trade for a young star, like Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, I don't see this team repeating their success from this year. They won the title because Dirk was nearly unstoppable and all their role players did their jobs to perfection. Even with a healthy Roddy Beaubois, it won't be easy for a group of veterans to perform like that again against Durant, Rose, Dwight and the Heat for another postseason. I don't know if it plays out like that again. My NBA has at least one more year. But maybe not more than that.
And that's what I've been thinking about. How did this Finals play out? It's not exactly the young Mike Tyson analogy I've been hearing so much lately; the one where if you stand up to the bully Tyson, he'll recoil in shock. No, not exactly that. Buster Douglas doesn't have the same type of pedigree as these Mavs. It's disrespectful to Dallas, because they've accomplished so much more in their pasts, and disrespectful to Buster because there's no way that his jump shot is, or was ever as ugly as Shawn Marion's. Let's stick with the boxing analogy here. I like pretending it's still a relevant sport.
This is more of an old, seemingly-washed up fighter taking down the already-crowned young champion. Not really Raging Bull, and not quite Cinderella Man, I think. But...wait. Yes. YES!
...when you think about it, the Finals played out like a title fight between Rocky and...wait for it...Tommy Gunn. Yes, I went there. Here. To Rocky V. Hear this out. It's legit.
In Rocky V, the titular character loses everything he has with a few bad business dealings and entrusting all his wealth into the wrong people. Once on top of the world, a legend in so many respects, a disgraced and humbled Balboa family is back to square one, in the doldrums of their lower-class Philadelphia neighborhood where they began. There, standing knee deep in self-loathing and depression, Rocky takes a young fighter under his wing, an Oklahoman by the name of Tommy...Gunn. Yes. Tommy Gunn.
Rocky trains him and brings him to the top. Tommy dazzles everyone with his athleticism and brute strength, but no matter how great Tommy's accomplishments are, still the critics and pundits constantly deride him. It seems that regardless of how many small fights he won or however many inferior fighters he dominated, no one ever truly gave Tommy the respect he thought he deserved . He would never be the champion until he passed that final hurdle - beating Rocky Balboa in a fight. He had to win the big one.
Tommy, who had long ago turned on his former trainer, finds Rocky in a bar, challenging him to a street fight. Yes, the final scene in a Rocky movie ends not in a ring, but on a street corner in West Philly. This is one of many reasons why no one remembers that there is a fifth Rocky movie.
(It might be because the main antagonist is named Tommy...Gunn. But the street fight is another reason)
So there in the alley stood, the young prize-fighter, with all the strength, athleticism in the world, done with being in the shadows of his predecessor. Tommy had learned all that he could from Rocky, and needed that final victory to justify all the accolades he thought he deserved .
They start slugging it out, and instantly, Rocky knows he's outmatched. Tommy has everything he USED to have - the strength, the moves, the arrogance. He can't win.
But Rock hears a voice in his head..."Remember 06'". I'm sorry, wrong part of the metaphor. Rock hears a voice in his head..."Get up you son of a bitch, cuz Mick loves ya". Rocky knows he can't fight fire with fire here. It's just a losing battle. So he relies on his wits and guile and something that he learned long long ago - you just don't quit. Then, several dramatic and drawn out scenes later, to the shock of everyone watching, Rocky scores that knockout. The old guard stood tall that night, and despite everything put against him, the young buck couldn't get it done. Just wasn't his time yet.
Is this the most ridiculous analogy every posted on THE GREAT MAMBINO? Yes, without a doubt. But that's what happened. LeBron, Wade and Bosh had gained every achievement possible - 1st Team All-NBA spots, All-Star nods, MVP awards and the title before even playing a game. Both Wade and LeBron learned that defense matters on Team USA from Maverick point guard Jason Kidd. They learned more about teamwork and sharing the ball in a month between the 2008 and 2009 seasons than in the 5 years preceding. As I was talking about with a friend yesterday, that's probably the last time LeBron or Wade got better - after their Team USA experience. Before that summer, neither were particularly known for their defense. Now, they are making 1st and 2nd All-NBA Defensive teams. So here it stood, a plot thread that not a lot of people touched on; a matchup between the new generation - the new Big Three - and a guy who helped teach them become complete players.
But when it came down to it, the old fighter just wasn't done. Outmatched in every physical facet, the Mavs relied on their intelligence, wit and guile to beat an opponent, who despite all of our bile and hatred, might have just been better. You play the Finals 5 times, and do the Mavs win every time? I'm not sure about that. But that doesn't really matter right now; My NBA is still here. They'll be here until someone takes them out back in a ridiculous alleyway street fight in an atrociously scripted and acted film. I just hope that LeBron isn't the guy who scores the knockout.