Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Nowitzki, a Championship Cures Everything

He's accustomed to the heart of Texas and the most fascinating locale in the Lone Star State, from the stereotypes of cowboys to the prairies to the Western lifestyle. There's nothing surprising about the latest development in Dirk Nowitzki's scorching postseason run and his sensational performance to dominate of late.

If Nowitzki wins his first NBA championship in a town where the zesty Texans haven't witnessed much triumph but heartaches with dreary collapses by major professional franchises in the Dallas/Fort Worth region and doesn't teeter in the deepest point of the postseason, he won't be ridiculed and will be entitled to be depicted as one of the shooters and greatest NBA player all-time. Nowitzki can hit an array of shots that charms the believers and his star-studded shooting normally puts fear on the minds of the opposing opponents, including his mental ability to manipulate the mood of an unpredictable postseason with ills and inspiration.

But what he cannot accomplish, during his slightly dazzling career, is lead the Dallas Mavericks to an NBA championship, where he usually stumbles and turns stagnant. Just once, as he is on a mission to win his first title and quiet down the critics, Nowitzki is nearing another shot at redeeming himself after he couldn't pilot the Mavs in the 2006 NBA Finals. By now, nobody is pondering the rematch of a dream match up between the Celtics vs. Lakers or the Lakers vs. Heat or even Thunder vs. Bulls. It would be an insult, not to mention that Nowitzki is the hottest player in the postseason, to discredit and ignore the Mavericks when the team owns a 3-0 lead over the defending champs in the semifinals.

And with apologies to L.A., for all the chatter that the defending champs would three-peat, for all the suggestions that no longer exist after watching the horror as a series suddenly fades in the demise of the Lakers, it turns out Dallas is the relentless megastars everybody insulted and never imagined putting the Lakers three-peat run in jeopardy. It's not unheard of, even if he's one of the best players, to have a horrible series. But when he continues to unravel each season in the postseason or NBA Finals, then it becomes a frequent pattern for a player who could never prevail at the finish of a competitive journey.

That would, well, be Nowitzki. As a seven-footer with mammoth size, he takes advantage by his capabilities to hurl his perilous three-pointers and convert on his long range buckets. Look at how nobody can hinder Nowitzki from hitting an array of shots to surge with unstoppable shooting, but he is bound to cool down by the next series and weaken as competition becomes deeper and more intense. His arsenal of destructive shooting declines at the worst possible time every season, when he is normally in groove before losing his swagger.

A person can admire his ambition, just as a person can understand that his hottest streak won't last. It appears that he might have the best turnaround and step-back jumper in the game, but he's not a reliable performer in the NBA. Given his previous history, he is known for diminishing greatly after the Mavs were upset by Golden State in the first round of the postseason and heartbroken by the Heat in the Finals, the moment Nowitzki should have won his first ring. In other words, all of this could be a fluke.

And all people, by now, are familiar with this pattern for a team having a puzzled identity in the past, giving owner Mark Cuban reason to whine and have his infantile hissy fit when he rips the officials incensed over poor calls. For sure, after averaging 21 points per game in 11 consecutive seasons, he is a future Hall of Famer. To end the night, Nowitzki posted 32 points with another effective 12 of 19 shooting night that propelled the Mavs to a 98-92 win over the fallen Lakers and secured a surprising 3-0 lead in the series. There's no doubt that Nowitzki is the greatest player of all-time for one franchise, but he is an underappreciated megastar because he never wins the huge games when the stakes are higher.

Do whatever you please, but when you double team or crowd him, he still hits a turnaround jumper. Do whatever you please, but when you put a hand in his face, he makes almost every shot. The question now is whether or not he is championship material??