Monday, June 27, 2011

McCourt Stains Dodgers, a Renowned Franchise in Tatters

It's not Bud Selig's responsibility, dare I say it, to feel sorry for a man who sabotaged a storied franchise in the hillsides of Los Angeles, just so he can pocket money, then ruin his image by greediness and selfishness in a community that scorns embattled owner Frank McCourt. However, it is the commissioner's job to remove the corruption from the landscape currently in tatters, all because of his financial quandaries of a treacherous divorce.

Amid a recession that leaves us guessing if the fragile economy will ever recover from the crisis, in a nation where unemployment rates are inflating and where folks are barely surviving, McCourt is disliked in a local town where fans have no sympathy for a battered, downhearted businessman. After all the shame, for an owner on the verge of losing the possession of his franchise, the Dodgers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday in Delaware.

It's almost equivalent to actor Mickey Rooney, filing bankruptcy caused by his poor investment and addiction to gambling. It's almost akin to automaker Henry Ford and rapper MC Hammer, a celebrity who was $13 million in debt and it is similar to Donald Trump as his casino wasn't hitting jackpot or even entertainer Wayne Newton suffering through affliction of tax debt.

The worst of all is McCourt, a man worthy of being renamed as McCorrupted in a town where the general public has been critical of him for such a dreaded plights to poison a tattered ballclub. Not a fan in town feels sorry for McCourt or stands by him, finding the unreliable man liable for the ruination all of the sudden.

"The Dodgers have delivered time and again since I became owner, and that's been good for baseball," McCourt said in a statement.

It's believed that he wouldn't have made the team's $10 million in payroll by Wednesday's deadline and, in all honesty, the Dodgers aren't hit with bankruptcy or broke but McCourt is deprived financially. If he had a sense of pride, he would've been kindhearted and generous enough to sell the franchise as billionaire owners, such as Mark Cuban or Ron Burke, 58, an investor already demonstrating an interest in bidding for a franchise in pro sports, or even Oakland A's co-owner Lew Wolff who has expressed interest in purchasing the Dodgers as well. Pretty good, for a franchise on the verge of collapse.

At this time, as someone noticed as a sham and ultimately a strapped businessman, a replacement would be much efficient than McCourt at the helm, criticized for the destruction of a renowned franchise. Apart from a financial disaster, McCourt truly doesn't just think blue, but also thinks he can salvage the Dodgers, despite that MLB took over operation of the ballclub. For McCourt, an enemy of the Dodgers, ever since he has swallowed financial troubles in result of his divorce with wife and co-owner Jamie, he's been at the point of self-destruction.

The mental state of it is that the Dodgers inherited a payroll of about $110 million, including $15 million in salary deferrals from previous seasons. It's been sketchy ever since Selig appointed a representative to oversee the "business and the day-to-day operations of the Club," an unfortunate action for a cult of fans scourged of reckless heartaches to give the Dodgers a bad name.

The position, among all things, is that you can't blame the commissioner for appointing the takeover when reportedly McCourt sought a $30 million loan for the club recently from the club's television broadcasting partner to likely make the organization's payroll. You can't blame the MLB for seizing control when McCourt had sought a $200 million loan from the broadcaster, a deal which was never approved by Major League Baseball.

A significant part of the problem was resolved when Selig, a narrow-minded, apathetic commissioner finally took action of a crisis, not a drug scandal but a financial issue, deeply concerned with the finances and operations of the Dodgers. That's because the Dodgers -- mired in disarray -- is the franchise truly unstable now and endangered with this massive debt.

The truth is, for all the heavy talk after the Texas Rangers filed for bankruptcy and the New York Mets experienced financial troubles, the Dodgers are not broke. But in all, McCourt is broke and has destroyed his reputation, not the Dodgers image. All this team needs a wealthy owner to revive the organization. It all sounds preposterous, given the conception that McCourt is hopeful bankruptcy court will overturn Major League Baseball's constitution. If he does have his way in the end, he could keep his team, but it's unlikely he'll keep the team, acknowledging that he can pay a steep price to save the team.

The sad thing is, he is forced by signing a long-term television deal and almost had a reached an agreement with Fox, but McCourt was denied as MLB never approved it. While it seems that McCourt, who is under much duress as deadline looms for payroll, is out of funds to make payroll on time, his intent is to request approval for an abundance of cash to pay most bills. But more importantly, he must meet an estimate of $40 million in current and salary obligations?

The folly of his finances is laughable, just as much as his statements are filled with hilarity. Sadly enough, he's lost his marriage, credibility and respect, particularly when he placed all the blame roughly on Selig, reluctant in taking accountability for the lack of integrity and riches.

It's really a damn shame that McCorrupted doomed historically a storied franchise, a premiere ballclub adorned by the presence of the great voice of Vin Scully, by the presence of the legendary manager Tommy Lasorda and even the memorable era when Sandy Koufax was a pitching legend. The Chavez Ravine is suddenly falling off the hillside, and there's much to dislike about McCourt, from providing lack of security to protect the safety of fans to the divorce scandal turning public to his failures of poorly running a franchise.

The disheartening fact is, the Dodgers were adored until McCourt brought the rights of the ballclub. For one reason, and one reason only, Dodgers fans should consider thanking McCourt after having sense enough to declare bankruptcy. It's surely evident to assume that the Dodgers are thinking blue.

If there's anyone blue, it's McCourt.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

NFL Labor Talks Are a Work In Progress

We may be reaching the point where players have actually been briefed on lockout discussions. Because it's slightly shocking, considering it is the fourth month since the ugliness has turned chaotic and hopeless, if not conceivable, there are folks shortsighted by the latest news of players being updated on the lockout status.

But in this case of oblivious folks, imploring for an NFL season next fall as the people in America are paranoid and have deeply worshipped the sport, it's sensible to fathom that football is the symbol of the one nation with a crazed for a hallowed event. Until all of this is resolved, even with a sign of relief after the executive director of NFLPA DeMaurice Smith spoke to players this past week on the current labor developments, then we can find solace in a nation where the population is already captivated with the game's place.

In all of this, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has fallen from grace to dismantle an image in tatters, once lacking care and responsibility for protecting the richest enterprise in sports. He has this egotistic, selfish demeanor about him that gave us a sense of belief as of which he was more focused on protecting his legacy, not the game everybody is enthusiastic in watching annually each season. Each time, he surely was in denial and couldn't handle the truth, as the NFL gradually toppled.

Even though in all honesty, as someone who is stubborn-minded just as much as he used to be unforbearing and demanding in a sense that he constituted a tougher, personal conduct policy to discipline players for their poor judgment, Goodell has not been aggressive in putting an end to the labor disputes. The theory has been utterly perplexing, but what has been a work in progress, is the pleasant vision for reviving the NFL of Smith's effort to speak to players.

The assumption is that by offering promise, although he never offered details or a timetable and seemed vague in the midst of the uncertainty lingering, a deal could be two or three weeks away on getting a new collective bargaining agreement. Whether the consensus of the two parties is finally gathering an understanding to slowly put an untidy rift to rest, it still remains uncertain if the lockout is truly over or not.

The hurried goad is that by making progress, communicating maturely and paying dividends when the two parties were fussing over money from maybe the burden of an impaired recession, a reaction of compromising could save the league from a long-suffering standoff, leading to an NFL season and no further tumult. Much of this happened because of stupidity and greed, much of this happened because of selfishness and egotism and much of this happened because the NFL allowed it.

"We're definitely optimistic we're moving in the right direction," Buffalo player George Wilson told the Associated Press. "Right now we feel like we're having meaningful discussions. ... We feel we have the right people in the room, discussing the right things and both sides want to get a deal done. But even though we're moving in the right direction, we're not there yet."

No, you're not there yet.

What's more staggering is when New England owner Robert Craft, a businessman who never agreed with a few proposals and worried about the economy paralyzing, is that he actually is optimistic and even acknowledged the recent progress. That could be, however, an indicator for restoration within the richest sporting league in existence. It's a fact as if the NFL is ready to plot the framework of a deal, which could be finalized very, very soon.

But if this deal has any chance of getting done, owners would have to compromise by allowing players to earn 48 percent of all revenue, according to reports. Furthermore, they've never received less than 50 percent, and requested for 50 percent of revenues in this latest deal. It's so true, from our understanding, that this is the threshold of a turning point financially in 100 days amidst a grisly lockout, as heavy talks are occurring more frequently and aggressively, aiming to give the fans football by next fall.

The reality was that many of the owners had been at the 42- and 44-percent level for much of the lockout, not too sure what the future had in store for a league in bedlam. And finally, Goodell and the owners accepted the players' plea. The players aren't settling for a percentage lower than 48 percent to force the players in taking $4.7 billion this year.

If so, it would be less than what players earned in salaries and benefits, dating back to 2009, but the players are content to accept a smaller percentage and potentially a $120 million salary cap. The doomsday of troubles, overwhelmingly impossible as the two sides are close to completing a deal to halt all the noise heard for months, could easily cripple an entire season if a deal isn't official by no later than August.

And if that were to happen, preseason football is ravaged definitely, if not much of the 16-game season, but the dedication from owners and the communication to players have more folks hopeful of an NFL season next fall. But as the lockout descends, after players weren't reluctant to accept a lower percentage in future years, presumably as low at 46.5 percent, we can quickly foresee a season that looms. It's also worth noting that Smith has trust in Goodell, for once at the helm of such a tough position.

Not much, in the meantime, has been said from the 8th circuit, ruling over the lockout case, or even the court of Judge David Doty. It's rational to realize that the NFL isn't so stupid and foolish enough to lose out on money, and it's unlikely to withstand a lockout much longer when revenue seems to be the top priority.

In any event, after many fans are disgusted and distraught of the overcome of late, players, owners and the league is trying to reach the point where it loses on revenue and fan loyalty, as the supporters can threaten the game's popularity with all the resentment and bitterness.

"Look, someone asked me whether I was optimistic," Smith said. "I think we're both optimistic when we have the right people in the room. We know we're talking about the right issues and that we're working hard to get it done."

That means something good is bound, right?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Riggleman Opted to Leave, but for What?

It sounds more like an escape hatch than protecting his name in its entirety, a plea for future arrangements that guarantees Jim Riggleman a stable job status. The gimmick here, for a man who abruptly resigned, is that Riggleman was disgruntled with his contract and basically became aloof over endless disputes concerning a deal, unsure of what the future beheld after the Nationals had sharpened mightily.

No, the Nationals weren't quite relevant to be described as a contending ballclub, but under his power, the club had shown the significance of rehabilitation. What happened so suddenly is the stunning development of Riggleman's resignation, as we never foreseen him fleeing quickly from a franchise that built a relationship with the skipper.

Before we are carried away, when the culture has changed instantly, when the Nationals are stunned in disbelief and when it seems befuddling after Riggleman left on great terms at the highest level of success while at the helm in the managerial role, he departed the club with a twinge of anxiety and uneasiness. At this point, after managing the Nationals to 1-0 walk-off victory over the Mariners Thursday afternoon, he looks exhausted and mentally tired of his disposition as manager, almost revealed with his stare even though the ballclub that represents the nation's capital won its 11th game in the last 12 games.

It might not sound like a huge deal, but in reality, it is an enormous deal when he was insecure and uneasy about his eventual plans in the future. The possibility of not reaching the postseason might have scared him off, and midway in the hysteria of a 162-game season, Riggleman stepped down in spite of his players listening to his demands, having tremendous respect for a manager with a telling track record.

The trend of departures is bizarre if someone resigns from the managerial role because of unanimous issues in discussions of a larger deal. It's very rare that a manager opts to leave in the middle of a prosperous season, but the stunning news came. That was shortly after Riggleman reportedly told general manager Mike Rizzo, perhaps his explanation for his withdrawal. It surely is flabbergasting and it was because he's been discontent about his imminent status.

"If you don't extend me, I'm not getting on the bus after the game," Riggleman said.

But there is something awkward about the whole ordeal. We simply can't tell whether or not he has a grudge with the executives or even a few players, just as much as we can't tell whether he was hiding personal issues from us. It could have been a strategy to keep his troubles veiling, or even it could have been a farewell to his bosses. It's no telling what happened behind close doors. And maybe, as a result, he is using a dogma for the lack of commitment.

"To do this job, you have to feel there's a commitment to you," Riggleman said. "I didn't feel that. I just wanted to have a meeting in Chicago [on Friday]. They wouldn't do that."

If this was a newfound upstart for Riggleman and progress for the Nationals, then he wouldn't have stepped down at this juncture of the season. Rather, now more than ever, it's strange to acknowledge that Riggleman is selfish and essentially refraining from the burden of leading a ballclub on the fringe of prosperity. Poorly mishandled, but wise for avoiding a distraction, he was disgusted as the team option had not been exercised. Yet the Nationals were, instinctively, content with Riggleman in which such an inconceivable departure as he leaves the post, he was responsible for the Nationals increasingly climbing one game above .500, even with a ruckus drawing too much turbulence.

"Look at how well I've done to manage this team of average talent to a winning record in one of baseball's tougher divisions," Riggleman said.

From what we can make out of this, arrogantly representing himself as if he's a pompous individual, Riggleman was stubborn-minded in a situation that was mishandled. Quite simply, as the midpoint of the season looms, he was solicitous about not receiving a long-term contract to protect his job security. It is quite possible, if he kept the managerial job and ended the season with an astonishing finish, that Riggleman would have solidified his long-term status.

This in turn, either way, would have had an impact on his next managerial campaign with a multitude of clubs seeking for Riggleman's availability. In short, all of this is puzzling. The real challenge came when he carried a helpless ballclub with a 26-61 record in July 2009, transformed the emotions in the clubhouse and demanded wholeness and adherence. The rebirth of cultivating the Nationals, as a result, saw an enhanced track record when Washington played 33-42 for the remainder of the season.

The thought was that he'd exactly be managing the Nationals, particularly when he was rewarded with a one-year deal for $650,000 for 2011, with a club option at $700,000 for 2012, but the Nationals were unprepared to pick up the option. So, he exactly was expected to be the manager for the upcoming seasons, but bailed out too soon, too quickly, and foolishly. Once realizing that he clearly saved the Nationals, capable of leading Washington to the postseason, it was just too bad that they allowed him to resign without negotiating or handling the situation maturely.

If Rizzo ever cared to resolve the misunderstanding, he would have scheduled a meeting with Riggleman in Chicago on Friday to rectify the friction, an alternative in avoiding distractions at a time of prosperity. For the rest of the season, the Nationals will name bench coach John McLaren, who'll serve as manager for a few days until Washington name an interim manager, someone like Davey Johnson or Bob Boone. They are both fitting for the job, former major league managers with much familiarity in the Nationals organization.

He was, truly, a respected manager in baseball, but felt disrespected in a foundation that became competitive. Such an unseemly abandonment would batter his reputation and erase the competence he installed in Washington.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Jimmer Show Not Convincing On Pro Level

We can speculate that he's the best player in this NBA Draft, but more importantly, the masses have amnesia when it comes to Jimmer Fredette, forgetting that he doesn't commit to shutting down his opponent with a fierce defensive mindset.

There's no doubt in our minds, when he is clearly one of the quickest and dazzling prospects of the draft to emerge in the limelight, that Fredette is drawing more controversy than he is amassing applause. He is qualified as an unknown draftee in America, although he was evidently a national power in college hoops last season, earning a name for himself to solidify his draft stock.

He'd much rather not play fierce defensively, which tells us all there is to know about the weakness of his game, a flaw that convince us he's not ready to translate within the pro level. The quality of his play has blinded the weaknesses he has exposed, when Fredette is roughly one of the greatest shooters of our generation, a sharpshooter with brilliance and too much artistry in his craft of marksmanship.

We've come to believe that he is suddenly the biggest curiosity in the slowest month of the sports year, and as much as people are overly worshipping an unproven player -- for being one of the most thrilling college ballplayers -- the average person has been overshadowed by his good character, race and most telling season that never really was so telling after all.

Regardless of how he is described as a player, with the Jimmer insanity is buzzing all over New York, he was swarmed by reporters on Wednesday afternoon at a hotel in Manhattan. By now, he probably thought he could avoid the criticism and survive in the NBA with his stellar shooting, persuading franchises to select him in the first round of the draft, even though he has not fully developed into a well-rounded ballplayer.

If Jimmer is the best player in the draft, couldn't it be that he'd be projected to go No. 1 overall in the draft?? You would think so -- but there are names more worthy of being called on first, such as former Duke's point guard Kyrie Irving or Arizona's Derrick Williams. So the man of an unsolved mystery stood in the hotel near a swarm of reporters, hearing the media pontificate as his thoughts wandered in his mind. And, of course, Fredette, with an aura that leaves us pondering about his athleticism on the pro level, is elusive and comprises of a singular persona.

"This is what comes with the territory if you're gonna be an NBA basketball player and have a big name out there," Fredette said. "I'm excited that everyone's here and everyone wants to know what's going on."

More than eight weeks have passed since Fredette has earned more attention, clearly getting more spotlight than other prospects in this NBA class. At this time, the basketball experts are certifiably insane to think of Fredette as the most spectacular player of the NBA Draft. One guard has walked slowly down the hotel walkway, looking thrilled for the moment of being selected to play for an NBA franchise by Thursday night. That'd be Fredette, of course.

What's notably easy to discover is he could be mistaken for a short white man with no basketball abilities, but he's not and Fredette is indeed a very skilled specimen. Even if he is pegged to be selected from No. 7-22, although he is seemingly over hyped and has been the magnet of draftees all week, the erstwhile BYU star still has a bevy of flaws and could amend his defensive woes. It would be some experiment, not to mention a risky maneuver, in bringing aboard Fredette in attempt to transform an inferior franchise and turn it into an elite contender.

It seems very likely, but it won't materialize immediately, depending on how quick Fredette resurrects his defensive capabilities, an infirmity that affects his level of perfection. For some, however, he's a shoot-first guard and sometimes he settles for terrible shots. His dream is suddenly here and, even more than that, he has much potential and has every intent of rising on the professional level, donning an NBA jersey for a franchise in need of talented stars.

Not too sure Fredette's personality or lack of defensive effort suits a substandard team selecting in the first rounds of the draft. What has impressed executives is his ability to score and distribute the ball, all the elements that depicted him as a standout athlete on the collegiate level. In recent weeks, he has worked out for the Charlotte, Milwaukee, Golden State and reportedly New York, a handful of teams targeting Fredette after his impressive workouts. Equipped with offensive power, Fredette averaged a staggering 28.9 points per game for BYU last season.

In this draft alone, even though it would be a tough dilemma for a franchise in search for another role player as part of an extreme makeover, the New York Knicks are in good position to select Fredette at No. 17 as he is expected to be picked late in the first round. There are rumors the Knicks are willing to move up in the first round, so the odds for Jimmer are immense.

It all seems sensible for Mike D'Antoni, a coach who never emphasizes the emphasis of defensive effort, which is all the more reason Fredette would excel in D'Antoni's quick-shooting, up-tempo system. That would be a fundamentally sound unit with the bona fide tandem of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, but it won't reduce any blemishes if the Knicks never present a defensive effort. Where ever he lands, he probably won't evolve into an impact player instantly.

Therefore, he is worth the gamble, just not convincing to the NBA. Hell, not even proven to be a superstar, and he could turn into a bust. Because he initially said that he would love to play for the Knicks, raised in upstate New York, Fredette has absorbed particularly the most attention. They are also amazed by his astonishing spring in college hoops and seem optimistic he can translate it to the NBA level

The tale of the Jimmer Show was produced from his art of shooting and he generated buzz nationally because of his pleasant performance regularly, where he ruled NCAA Division I basketball. Just like he was so superb in college hoops can he translate his awe-inspiring play to the NBA level, worthy of being a star player for a contender?? It remains a mystery, leaving us guessing about Fredette's consistency and status from the pro standpoint. Before we judge his stature as a player, might we realize that he is a 6-foot-3 sharpshooting guard?

The problem is, no doubt, he doesn't defend even though he has skeptics believing that he's an absolute surprise as far as workouts by his work in progress to enhance his athleticism. As for all the gossip swirling around this week, mostly surrounding the likes of Jimmer, he is worth dwelling over a bit since he has plenty of range and can contribute massively with his capacity to score at will. If he hears his name called, which he'll eventually walk onto the stage when a team selects Fredette, it could be the Sacramento Kings at the No. 7 spot.

Or some have even speculated that he'll be available on the No. 12 pick for Utah, where he is heavily revered in a Mormon territory after aggrandizing his popularity at BYU seen as a celebrity more than a college student. When he sets foot on a court in the NBA, for a change of scenery to make a transition from the collegiate level to the pros, he'll be a rookie and can be a top-notch scorer. In the meantime, Fredette, the 2011 College Player of the Year, led the nation in scoring and BYU to one of its greatest seasons.

The rationale for which teams are leery in drafting Fredette is his disadvantages while building for a professional career. Ok, so he was the best player in the Mountain West Conference. Sure, he was a brilliant stud, but he tends to struggle when none of his teammates are designing a play offensively. He is comfortable in moving off screens and pump-faking, and then delivering the fallaway jump shot, a trend he followed so well to intimidate and outplay the opposing defenders.

It's normal whenever rookies have trouble adjusting to the pro level or even defending an NBA star, in which it won't be surprising to see Jimmer struggle in that department. Fredette was the most creative player in college, efficient in scoring and creating opportunities off the dribble, but he's the one shooter who needs plenty of touches to be an ultimate threat. At the risk of misunderstanding, the surest notion is that none of the criticism or unattractiveness relates to racism.

The heavy talk circulates his race, whether or not the NBA is prejudice against white players. Maybe he'll be the next Mike Miller, who was the No. 5 overall pick in 2000. Or maybe he'll be historically horrific, equivalent to Marcus Fizer or Chris Mihim. What if he even emulate Dell Curry, who was one of the worst defenders but a gifted shooter and, surely enough, he can change the dynamics in a game if he becomes a role player.

With all of this, he is fun to watch, but the lights, cameras, and lastly, uttering the word "action" ought to wait until he proves to be a star in the NBA. Otherwise, the Jimmer Show is cancelled.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vindication: Mavs, Nowitzki Revel in the Wildest of Victories for Title

Even before he reached the locker room, gazing around to embrace the overjoyed moment, Dirk Nowitzki was overwhelmed, walked through the hallway of a hostile environment and then cried alone. He may have well been the best player of these Finals, relentless in shooting, savvy in his play and bearing his own criticism.

The night for the Dallas Mavericks was indescribable and unbelievable, a night when Nowitzki finally conquered vengeance, abiding vindication after meeting standards of the greatest triumph in franchise history. So now, he won't be ignored given history, but appreciated as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, a team leader and a clutch finisher to lead the Mavs to its first NBA championship in franchise history. Once he emerged from the tunnel and reappeared onto the floor for the trophy presentation, Nowitzki brought exhilaration and smiles, greeted with prolonged hugs and walked onto the podium to hoist the MVP hardware and the Larry O'Brien trophy.

"We're world champions," Nowitzki said in the conference room, with his Finals MVP trophy and a bottle of champagne.

"It sounds unbelievable."

Nowitzki, the seven-foot German who won the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award, a player with self-consciousness, wasn't afraid of shooting the ball. Although he couldn't drain a bevy of missed shot attempts early on, he continued hurling shots and hit 8-of-15 in the second half, scored 18 points and guided the Mavs to an exceptional 105-95 win over the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena Sunday night for the NBA championship. There once was a bombastic owner who relished the spotlight for being the focal point of the Mavericks.

In this glamorous moment, Mark Cuban, the cyber nutcase that separates him from the normal owner of pro basketball, was finally humbled and celebratory just as his players jubilated and embraced the beauty of a title. When the Mavs were crowned champs, capturing a remarkable accomplishment of his 11 years of ownership, the famously loudmouthed owner carried himself with dignity and class. Most of all, for some time, Cuban has waited patiently to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy and indeed he has won the grandest prize by putting together a brand of talented stars, pampering his players and paying his athletes.

It's not as though Cuban was a terrible owner with an infamously outspoken mind that has gotten him into trouble in recent years, but it was the NBA fines he amassed because of his infantile hissy fits and absurd remarks. However, on a night that he honored the franchise's original owner, Donald Carter, who stood on the podium proud and speechless wearing his tall cowboy hat, there was nothing that Cuban uttered foolishly.

The growing idiocy wasn't what drew the attention, not even his harsh criticism of the officials, but his innovative framework to fittingly lure talent and manufacture a charismatic core. Here is Cuban now, all grown, knowing when to talk and shut up, tired of being inflicted with fines that cost millions. By now, no one is blinded by the product he has placed on the floor in Dallas, becoming the only owner in Mavericks' history to be honored in such a sterling night.

"Mark wanted to do it this way," said an overjoyed Carter. "He just wanted the trophy to go through the progression. We started it and he took it to the finish line. And with class."

It's perfectly the reality no one ever imagined in the most electrifying closure for the Mavs, a franchise nobody ever believed in and doubted entirely throughout the postseason, calling Dallas the one-and-done team. For once, in his lifetime, Nowitzki never choked in the Finals and carried the Mavs to astounded exultance.

Forgive me for doubting Nowitzki.

It was only five years ago, a point in his career that Nowitzki wasn't a stud or even one of the best shooters, when he and the Mavs collapsed in the '06 NBA Finals. It wasn't long ago, finally mentioned in the company with a myriad of NBA greats, when he was incapable of hailing as the MVP or team leader, he was disqualified as one of the all-time greats and couldn't beat the eighth-seeded Golden State in a stunning upset. It ought to be considered one of the greatest redemptive tales in basketball, a defining ending for Nowitzki to hush the disbelievers with his shooting clinics, determination, mentality and thirst for a legitimate title.

And now, of course, Dirk is purging the haunted memories at last, ousting all the painful mischances. It's the era we live in, one which the Mavs capped a stunning postseason to clinch a victory in the Finals, lifting beyond all expectations this season, not even Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson beheld a surprise party. It's the culture every basketball franchise wish it had, one which has persistence, tenacity and chemistry, particularly in a sport where it requires at least three solid players.

By any notable accounts, the Mavs had the proper ingredients to bring home the prize, fueled by the presence of Nowitzki and even veteran point guard Jason Kidd, along with his counterpart Jason Terry, who backed up his trash-talk and carried the Mavs with a stellar performance. The Mavs, as the better team, responded well to adversity and defeated arguably the greatest trilogy in basketball all-time. As a unified core, stuck together through the toughest road of each series and played impressively.

"It was not our motivating factor going in," Terry said of the awful '06 experience. "But now that we have done it, you can say it was sweet vindication."

When it was over, Nowitzki embraced Kidd and celebrated the moment, but the man worth endearing was Terry. The truth here is, he doesn't have to remove his Larry O'Brien tattoo on the inside of his right arm, after vowing that he would remove it had the Mavs lost. The prophecy from Terry was true after all and he played brilliantly ever since Nowitzki publicly said that he needed contributions.

The relief on Nowitzki, in retrospect, was convenient in Game 6, because Terry not only played as the sixth man building upon his legacy as he has done at a very young age in his hometown Seattle and stifled James but he posted 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting. For all of the superstars no one ever generates conversations about, Kidd at the age of 38 had eight assists and phenomenal ball-handling and DeShawn Stevenson launched threes off the bench.

"Was he unbelievable tonight or what?" Nowitzki said of Terry.

The best of the Mavs' pursuit of excellence happened in the title-clinching win, based on the adjustments by the well-respected coach Rick Carlisle. The highest level of quality for any team is adjustments and the sizable role players to pour in points off the bench. And the amazing player in this game was J.J. Barea, for scoring 15 points. Greater than it all, Shawn Marion produced 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds as usual, and impeccably Brian Cardinal nailed a three-pointer and had an assist.

As in every human, Dirk struggled with his rare misses for much of a peculiar Game 6, the unanticipated shooting debacles to score a manageable 21 points with 11 rebounds. But leave it to Terry with five crucial baskets in the final 7:22 to stain the Heat's potential dream of being crowned champs. By the second half, under his own willpower and willingness, he bounced back from a horrifying 1-for-12 shooting calamity. It's more woeful for the Heat, and as poorly as LeBron James played in the NBA Finals disengaged to endure greatness, he diminished as Nowitzki rose because of his fourth-quarter brilliance. And yes, in the elimination game, LeBron finally scored in the fourth.

"It was weird. In the first half, I had so many good looks," Nowitzki said. "I can't even explain it. I had some 3s top of the key. I had a wide-open 3 in the corner. I had some pull-ups. I had some one-legged fadeaways that I normally make."

Then too, the Mavs entered the series with more swagger and urgency as Dirk wasn't allowing another heartbreaking collapse smear an earnest run for the NBA title, enough to convince us worldwide that Dallas can precisely beat Miami to win the championship on the road. It was already discovered in Game 4 of the Mavs' improbable second-round sweep of the Lakers. While there was plenty of shame on a video that unveiled Friday featuring Wade and James ridiculing Nowitzki's illness, it may have angered the Mavs to play harder and be more engaged for the moment and indeed Dallas attacked with more ferocity, intrepidity, certainty and perseverance.

"Our guys took it personally tonight," Carlisle said. "They were not going to be denied. Dirk and [Terry] have had to live for five years with what happened in 2006. And as of tonight those demons are officially destroyed."

All playoffs, Nowitzki was undoubtedly the best player, enduring pain from a torn tendon in his middle finger on his left hand and then a sinus infection, including a high fever in this series. Amazingly, he pressed on. He's not devoid of an NBA tile suddenly, when there are six NBA MVPs deprived of a championship. To name a few: Among active players, there is Steve Nash and Derrick Rose. In that company, nonetheless, Allen Iverson, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley all never won a title. At the end of the night, Nowitzki and the Mavericks were seen partying on South Beach at the famous club LIV at the Fontainebleau Hotel with the Larry O'Brien trophy where Cuban was wildly dancing and jiving with his players after Dallas had avenged their failures of the '06 Finals.

A week from his 33rd birthday, and he just built a monumental legacy surrounded by the profound supporting cast. The Mavs were worthy of the title all alone. And since the NBA is the one sport where it is not a rarity to win back-to-back titles, determined by how the collective bargaining agreement fares, Cuban still has the motive to pursue a free-agent in the summer of 2012 for the Dwight Howard or Chris Paul sweepstakes, particularly if he can clear salary-cap space and influence some of his free-agents to demand less in salary.

"This is as mentally tough a team as I've ever been around, and I was fortunate enough to play in the '80s with those great Boston teams," Carlisle said. "And that team had four Hall of Famers. What this team was able to do with guys like Cardinal, Mahinmi, Barea -- those guys played major, major roles in a championship game."

Through six games, Nowitzki had the highest-scoring fourth quarter. If you haven't noticed, he was resilient in Game 6 after a 4-of-21 start, a rare and slow start for a gifted shooter of Nowitzki's caliber. But all that mattered was how he finished, shooting 5-for-6 near the end. At one point, late in the game of course, he couldn't miss shots and drove to the basket with his incredible size and upper body strength, he couldn't miss shots popping jump shots continuously. With four points and 11 rebounds off the bench, Ian Mahinmi hit the biggest shot of his career, if not of Game 6 and nailed a 14-footer as the clock expired to end the third that gave the Mavs an 81-72 advantage.

In a remarkable run, it took teamwork and effort. And Cuban surrounded Nowitzki with enough star power for the sweetest victory in Mavs existence. Plain and simple, the Mavs were just the better opponent and wanted it more than the Big Three in South Beach.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

LeBron's Tattered Legacy is Endangered as the Heat On Verge of Suicide

He was integral in assembling the monumental trifecta all-time in hope of inserting triumph, to provide countless championships for the folks in South Beach who are worried greatly about the state of mind of the Miami Heat.

For LeBron James, one of basketball's global dignitaries and the most despised athlete because he wrongly departed Cleveland on callous terms and arrogantly broadcasted "The Decision" to announce his next destination during his free-agency mania, he was the greatest closer in the postseason that sort of validated his legacy as James stifled critics from irately bashing the embattled star.

But, then, something very weird and hopeless has happened of late. Whatever glaring perceptions we have on the Heat, especially with a season of accomplishments in jeopardy, it's now notable that the Heat would produce franchise suicide if Miami is devoid of an NBA championship when the masterminded Pat Riley constructed an unimaginable trilogy. The quality of play has been so dreadful that James is the scapegoat, catching all the negativity and scrutiny because of his fourth quarter meltdowns, where he has not shown ferocity, heart or determination but a lack of effort and self-assurance.

He'd much rather watch than hustle for the loose ball, grab rebounds and attack the rim, which tells us his mentality isn't all there, unprepared for the biggest moment of his career, a defining chapter of James' occult career. Although deep down, as someone who wishes to stand out as a modest public figure in mankind and our society, he merits no love unfortunately in America and, if there are impassioned people fond of James, it's the population located in South Beach.

There is much to dislike about the self-proclaimed King James, from the latest episode when he proclaimed that Game 5 was the biggest game of his career, from the megalomaniacal television spectacle last summer, from his insensitive exit that infuriated the citizens in Cleveland. As the most condemned athlete in sports, if he falls short of a championship, then James' tarnished legacy is endangered forevermore in the wrath of inevitably a pique he draws as the villain in sports.

The pressure is intense, then, for James to finally sustain his first ever championship in these NBA Finals, specifically when he pulled together with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the purpose of capturing a title. It's not so true as the Heat struggles mightily with James' fourth quarter woes, in a nation where the loyalists have every reason to ridicule, mock and laugh at his passiveness and inertia. There is a sense, by many viewers and critics, that James is often too latent, vulnerable and stolid, unwilling to stay with his abilities to drive to the basket and lately has the temptations of trying to be an outside shooter.

"The last 48 hours have been thinking about Game 5," LeBron said Saturday. "Some of the opportunities we had to win. Some of the opportunities I had to make plays and either made them or didn't."

Maybe he spent ample time thinking about just how he and his teammates need to keep this series alive if the Heat are pursuing an NBA championship. Consider it a failure if the Heat falls short of conquering the grandest prize, which for LeBron no doubt, he'll draw much scrutiny and aspersion after he couldn't exceed immense expectations and standards.

The disparity has been fretting James for some time, with the world closely glazing at the loathed superstar on the shores of South Beach, a place that welcomed him in nicely with open arms and bared compassion for a sports individual who has been loathed across the nation, if not worldwide. If he has the desire to be the best, in many ways, he needs to sustain greatness and deliver in the clutch. If the Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks Sunday night in Game 6, Miami and James would be described as failures as their title hopes this season will diminish.

And, of course, James is on the verge of elimination and a painful summer, a long offseason when he reflect on the disappointment in the Finals. The heavy talk of these Finals, in whispers heard across the world from radio airwaves to television to the Internet, is on James, who is generating more buzz than other players. While Dirk Nowitzki is on the verge of capturing his first NBA title, James, in contrast, is nearly doomed and has been ripped for underachieving with his endless fiascoes on the floor such as in late-game situations when he's not producing as a clutch performer.

We can barely applaud James, not only because he's the most disliked player on the universe, but because he's never prevailed in the biggest event. In this development, James has underperformed on his playground where he is absent, not clutched, not a fourth-quarter savior, not one of the best shooters in postseason history, not even one of the all-time greats, but the flukiest and enigmatic player judging by his sudden disappearance.

It won't take long, should James and the Heat topple against the Mavs, until he falls from grace in a shot at redemption. It won't take long, should he began his vacation Sunday night in South Beach, until he visions the shred of his tattered legacy devalue, not potent enough, not determined enough and not reliant enough to lead the Heat on a wondrous expedition. Because of his foolish Tweet before Game 5, James is described as a fool, a loudmouth and overly sensitive whiner, reducing his focus and energy on the series, so engaged in getting the last word but disengaged in raising the intensity in the Finals.

The notion that James tweeted "Now or never!!" could have been a motivation strategy, but in reality, for the Heat as a whole, it's "Now or never!!" Could it be bad karma for James?? Remember when he and Wade were captured on video, directly ridiculing Nowitzki for being sick in Game 4??

"I'm not feeding into that. If you guys want to feed into everything that not only myself or D-Wade or the Miami Heat do, I think that's a non-issue." What in the hell has happened with LeBron?

All week, the curiosity has inherently circled James, worried heavily about his recent stumbles in the last two games of this championship series. That was Game 4 and 5, where he never measured up to his own standards. The comparisons of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson are absurd at a moment in his dizzied career when he could be a work in progress, and can't withstand the stiffest challenge of pro basketball. It's more inexplicable to understand the Heat, and in the midst of James disappearing on his teammates as Miami is one game from elimination, he'll be blamed more than ever, hated even more so for such a poor and strange performance.

There'd be no way in hell to escape the criticism and taunting, simply when he convinced the world that he was an admirable athlete, hailed as one of the greatest all-time before he even made his presence felt in the league. It's the culture we live in, one which is abnormal for a player with higher expectations than life, but has yet met the agenda of greatness.

There's been plenty attention, after remotely raising his isolated popularity in a lone town and state, regarding his personal life, his health status and mindset. For sure, he is at much fault of the overblown hyperbole recently, and one can still speculate whether or not he's afraid or soft, turning into an epic disaster in one of the worst tragedies in NBA history if James doesn't turn it around in Game 6.

For the most part, legacies are constituted in June, as much as James tries calling it via social networking, he is wrong and on the verge of missing out on protecting a legacy in disarray. The result of James' flaws have no bearing on the fourth-quarter disengagement that seems confusing, when it looked as if he was having one of his historic postseasons. He ultimately know it's inexcusable to blow a legion of games late, and as much as James is considered a great athlete, it's a rarity whenever an exceptional player performs poorly in back-to-back games in the fourth quarter.

In theory, James is petrified of failure and he's mentally not in the frame of mind, just as much as he is physically fatigued. Even if he produced a triple-double in the 23-year history of the Miami Heat, it would be "NOW OR NEVER!!" The aspect of judging James is that he's not handling the adversity or expectations, unwilling to manage the hearsay and criticism, reluctant in handling the everlasting drama from his critics and the media. Given his baggage, the perception is that he's viewed as the enemy of basketball, so the pressure is greater than ever for James to win as a way to not be begrudged.

When he is described as the evildoer, the only way to clear one's name, given his pompous actions in many ways, James ought to be attempting to keep aspirations alive Sunday night and reduce the fear and weaknesses. There's only so much one person can endure in life, but in this case when much ramifications are involved, actions speak louder than words for LeBron. It's all about survival and avoiding the dizziness, the anger and the pressure.

Furthermore, it's "Now or never!!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where's LeBron James?? LeChoke Stumbles Upon Failure

A couple of days later and LeBron James is not escaping his disastrous meltdown with reality setting in, and no matter what this means for the Heat's experiment of building a singular trio, he can't restore optimism for Miami -- a team that face much scrutiny of late. Maybe we were so surprised to see James not bounce back from a horrific breakdown he endured in another peculiar performance, engulfed in controversy ever since his porous fall in the NBA Finals.

This was an eroded James in whom the people have blasted recently, calling him a whiny baby and a choker, deemed as a villain and an egomaniac. This was a self-centered James who was callously insensitive and dampened spirits of the gracious population in Cleveland, disowned for leaving and turning disloyal to the Cavs' faithful near his native town. This was the much-scrutinized star suffocating in another late-game crisis, with James nearly finishing scoreless in the final quarter of Game 5 and merely scoring 2 points in the fourth that resulted in a 112-103 loss on Thursday night to the Dallas Mavericks.

The worst part of it all is that James' latest mental lapses, blown shots and poor ball handling haunted the Heat and the self-proclaimed King. Then again, maybe James has finally redeemed himself to some degree, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to settle for a triple-double on the night. What we all expected, just by witnessing James as the greatest closer in these NBA playoffs, was him closing out games and validating his tarnished legacy.

If James continues to stand around looking confused and lost, the Heat won't win a championship and it would be hard to envision Miami capturing triumph without him having an impact on the series. Even after he was ripped for such an insufficient performance, he never responded or avenged his deficiencies from Game 4, where he plunged ever so miserably and lacked toughness.

It's almost contemptible to watch James these days, playing with a befuddled state of mind, playing with no firepower, no ferocity and no glaring conviction. What in God's name is happening with James? This wasn't Dallas' terrorizing defense and instead it was James looking disengaged as if he couldn't care less whether the Heat win or lose. The Heat trails the series 3-2 to the Mavs -- in James' lack of effort to attack the basket and defend tightly in the late minutes.

It was probably the biggest game of his lifetime, a defining moment in his sullied NBA career -- but even though he was a facilitator -- his teammates trusted him and James fueled the Heat players with passes -- he never was a factor in the fourth. James -- is the nation's most hated athlete with the vast majority celebrating his sudden demise in the Finals. He doesn't have a clue what is materializing, busy talking too much and have not focused on the game enough to respond with a stronger performance. It would be wise for James to shut his loudmouth and take on the role as a closer, not a berated buffoon who posts moronic comments on Twitter.

"This was probably the biggest game of my life," James said before Game 5.

What we all waited for, just by hearing his foolish nonsense after disappointing the Heat, was a breakout performance and the defining moment. And so it goes. There was never, not even at one point in the game, a defining moment for James, particularly in the end when he couldn't close it out by hitting his jumpers, or even better, storming the paint for an empathetic dunk or an easy layup. What the headlines are likely to exaggerate on, nonetheless, is clearly that James was too much of a talkative star rather than a brilliant ballplayer.

If this were a Heat team devoid of stars crumbling when it all matters, it's because of the rhetoric from Miami recently. To make matters worse, James shrunk ultimately while in desperation. When he vowed to the world that he'd answer in the biggest game of his life and was said to silence his critics, indeed he failed to back up his self-proclaimed drama and has been publicly embarrassed for the worst disaster of his NBA career.

Faster than ever -- since his surreal departure from Cleveland -- he instantly plunged from one of the global stars in the world and has been ridiculed, jeered and laughed at upon another anticlimax. And through it all, his self-inflicted prophecy meant nothing and it humiliated James again, making him look like a fool on the biggest stage of his lifetime, I presume. There'd be no reason to call him the King and worship the so-called superstar as he produces no basketball royalty.

It should come as no surprise in his emergence, even if he had a breathless postseason run and finally defeated his nemesis Boston, that incredibly he has deteriorated with his lack of heroics and continuous struggles. In recent memory, we watched James come all so close in the postseason during his seven-year stint in Cleveland, but he would disintegrate in the Eastern Conference Finals alongside the disimproved supporting cast. Maybe all he really is, of course, is someone who brought his talents to South Beach, an enemy of basketball, especially when much of the nation hates James.

But the truth is, he never stuck with his promises to bring fulfillment for the Heat and he's now criticized for it, a plague James does not handle too well. That's common nowadays of adversity he endures, incubated by James' miserable atrophy in the Finals. When he left Cleveland -- after he announced that he'll be joining the Heat in his overblown television special "The Decision," he needed months to recover and couldn't withstand the entire backlash. As a villain in sports, a battered James finally had a heavyweight postseason, all before he encountered the Mavs in the NBA Finals.

He quickly overcame the hardships last November when the Heat struggled and played passive and soft, but it took a long time until James found his stride. If he falls into a funk, he whines and blabbers frequently, to take his mind and energy away from the game. That's all the more reason he stumbles as pressure affects his ability drastically. Although he was a clutch performer earlier in the postseason, a star we become accustomed to when he was a sensational finisher and arguably the best player this postseason, all of the sudden he has lost composure and debilitated.

From an honest perspective, LeBron chokes much too often, although he's one of the league's talented stars with the knack to take over the game in the end. He was firmly in control in the final minutes of games, but as of now, he has seemed to disappear at the end-of-game situations. It's very strange, given that he sold the notion of being the finest closer for the Heat, that he looks bewildered, helpless, harmless and incapable of taunting.

If anything, James is worried and petrified, knowing the Mavs are in position to close it out in Game 6 and hoist its first ever NBA title in franchise history. How amazing to notice that James, fading in his sudden disgrace and troubles, seems like the failure who represented Cleveland. How incredible to notice that the Superteam, arguably the greatest trio in NBA history, is the flukiest and most pathetic combination in sports.

If that was the case, James was better off staying in Cleveland, not joining a pair of superstars to assemble a dysfunctional experiment which appears to be cascading. Most notably, it's not hard to laugh at James, for which he takes on several nicknames. If he has common sense, James knows the world is buzzing about his latest default in the Finals. He is surely missing in action, absent for much of the series. If the Heat is devoid of a championship and falls short of a celebration in South Beach, it would go down as LeBron's most embarrassing Finals in NBA history.

Mired in uncertainty, the King is fittingly known as LeChoke, LeBrick or LeBaby, unless he arrives and has a monster performance in Game 6 where sudden death is upon the Heat. When it comes to James, we as the critics, expect much from him simply because of his arrogant, overbearing and egomaniacal personality. The other day, Charles Barkley ripped the Heat and their fans on the Waddle and Silvy Show in Chicago.

He said,"Yeah they have the worst fans. No question. It's not even loud in there. You're at the game and you are like, 'Man this place isn't even loud.' At least when you go to Chicago, it's loud in there, it's crazy down in Dallas but it's not even loud in Miami."

He elaborated further...

"Listen, if the Miami Heat were playing the Washington Generals I would pick the Washington Generals," Barkley said with a chuckle. "It's something about that team that annoys me. They just a whiny bunch and I can't root for them."

It was all diminishing for James, from his popularity to his assurance to his admiration. The harsh reality is that he does whine more than he drills baskets. Hell, he can even be a brilliant actor, starring in a Hollywood picture for flopping and baiting the refs into poor calls. When he never heard the whistle blow on a play where he felt he was touched, he exploded in one of his infantile tantrums and acted worse than a toddler.

As a professional ballplayer, James doesn't handle his failures like a man, but instead an amateurish clown. It was almost a resemblance of his eight point stunner, the fewest points in his postseason career, in 45 minutes Tuesday night. But this time, he was a no-show in the fourth quarter, and settled for too many jump shots. This wasn't a defining moment, but a tragicomedy and it surely was an epic failure at a time he was supposed to act in response.

The measure of all-around excellence seems forgotten for a star who cannot avoid the painful blows, but James has plenty of time left for turning it around, even if some suggest that he's not ready for a radiant moment. So far, James has not convinced the basketball world that he's capable of winning a championship, or even greater, driving the Heat to triumph. Really now, James has abandoned the offense and has given Wade, who has had stellar performances in the last two games, the chance to take over the game.

It's worth noting that James is uncomfortable to measure balance in facilitating and contributing offensively, and because of it, he's missing in action. All series, James has been a non-factor and missed eight of his 11 shots in Game 4 alone, making a lone shot in the fourth quarter of Game 5. It's clear James has lost confidence within himself, evidently the other night when he scored less than 10 points for the first time in his last 434 games.

Because obviously, it's all about ego and recognition -- in truth -- he can utilize social networking and post "Now or Never," on his Twitter account early Thursday morning. It's said that James refuses to listen to criticism or allegations from the public and media outlets. Who knows? He takes much abuse and bitterness, but he doesn't play with enough heart or a fierce mindset, one that could wane all the derision. The fact he disappeared blemished the Heat, and now, it looks as if he is incapable of coming through in biggest moments. After two chaotic games, of his fourth quarter mental lapses to potentially delay the fans for bracing a South Beach parade, he bricked shots, he was baffled and he was dizzied on another planet.

Where was he?? On Pluto??

As it happened, he had another dreary fourth quarter in the Finals. And again, James was the shrinking star, despite having an irrelevant triple-double. There's a sense of belief that the Dallas Mavericks WILL close out Game 6 to win the NBA championship and jubilate in South Beach. As for the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry pulverized the Heat and hit an avalanche of three-pointers.

It turns out that Nowitzki and Terry are the heroes of the Finals, not James if he never has an epic finish in the fourth. He was scoreless, harmless and laughable in the fourth, and it wasn't enough to vindicate talent in which he should be in command of these Finals. It could be the Mavs getting inside James' head, along with DeShawn Stevenson, who unsympathetically called him a quitter in Game 4 and Shawn Marion, who called him an abrasive name on the court.

Where is LeBron?? What, did he suddenly vanished and ventured off to LaLa Land?

The best player in basketball, built with much prodigy and craftiness is gone. Where is the King?? He is the helpless Prince, disheartened over the last two defeats. In reality, the Heat are down 2-3 in the series, and James has a shot to redeem himself and return to prominence in what could be the most theatrical story in Finals history, chronicled in one of the greatest NBA tales. James doesn't have the desire to drive to the rim and be assertive inside the paint.

His state of mind isn't there, and he has not had the touch on his jumpers, only tallying 11 points in all five fourth quarters of these Finals. Now he's bearing the criticism as Game 5 was a humiliating loss -- dropping in the fourth -- when he missed an uncontested three-pointer with the Heat trailing 102-100. And then, he was whistled for a charge on the baseline as he tried driving to the basket. The blunder surely came when he allowed Terry to beat him in a footrace on the critical three-pointer of the night.

As the spotlight shined on Terry, he backed up his trash talk directed towards James and had a brilliant night. If James is done talking and ready to play basketball in which he has created a ruckus because of his personal issues and hearsay publicly, then he could probably be more productive offensively.

I am not too sure whether or not James can accomplish the unthinkable

Monday, June 6, 2011

Nowitzki Won't Keep the Mavs On Top Alone

My faith in the Dallas Mavericks has been diminished in many ways. The shock of perhaps Dirk Nowitzki falling short of another astonishing feat is a bit worrisome, all because he couldn't hit a contested 16-footer that bounced high off the rim and dropped to the court as the buzzer sounded.

"Well, I thought we had opportunities," said Nowitzki. "First of all, we can’t always fall down behind. I think we’re always reacting. We did in the first quarter. Third quarter we came out slow, fell down big."

He tried, mind you, to duplicate an encore finish in Sunday's 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, he tried to obviously complete a flawless performance again and then he tried to virtually be the hero in the end. Instead on this particular night, he would rush the shot with very little time on the clock to hoist a prayer that would have sent it to overtime -- he would hit a missed shot, stand hopeless in pain, then lower his head as if Dallas' aspirations mercifully imploded at the damnest time.

"We all know that basketball is a game of runs," said Nowitzki. We have to stop the runs a little quicker. We can’t get down 15 all the time and battle back. You can get like a five, six-point swing here and there. We can’t get in a deep hole like that."

It sounds more like Nowitzki can use assistance and should be pleading for help from his passive supporting cast, coming in a series where the Heat consist of too much talent, coming in a series where Nowitzki has worked alone and lifted the Mavs out of distress. It could be that Nowitzki is mentally exhausted and weary after carrying the Mavericks to the NBA Finals, along with staging a breathtaking comeback in the previous meeting, an unexpected rally the folks can presumably embrace for the ages.

And since he's being compared against the all-time greats in basketball, he ultimately seeks his first ever NBA championship and waited a long time for another crack at capturing a title while wearing a Mavs uniform. But what we fail to realize is Nowitzki cannot win it alone and he'll need reinforcements from his non-existent supporting cast in these Finals, if Dallas plans on celebrating its first NBA title in franchise history.

It was so easy to postulate, evidently when we thought Nowitzki was the invincible star in these Finals, when we suspected him to pose as the most lethal performer, that the Mavericks had climbed beyond any doubts. No one standing on our earth is superhuman -- including Nowitzki -- who showed he has weaknesses as every other player in the game. For once, he looks imperfect in crunch-time and in no position to showcase his brilliance, although he almost led the Mavs to a significant win. When he touched the ball on the last possession, he was flawed on the last attempt and the lack of support from his lackadaisical teammates.

What the hell is with Jason Terry?? Being down 2-1 isn't such a bad predicament, considering that the Mavericks are resilient and poised. Given Dallas' history, though, the Mavs are vilified and have been known to derail and suffocate in huge games with plenty implications, particularly in the most challenging moments. It seems strange to recognize the Mavs having flaws -- teammates playing soft and passive in this series alone.

It's almost unfathomable that Terry has come into view with a dismal performance, shooting merely 38 percent from the field in the NBA Finals. The unfolding of his struggles blazoned in Game 3 when Terry shot 5-for-13 and scored 15 points and, for much of the night, he was ineffective as the defensive-minded Heat double-teamed and trapped the absent-minded guard.

"We've been very inconsistent," Terry said. "Obviously, offensively is where we like to get in the paint and finish plays, and we haven't done that. A lot of that falls on my shoulders, and so again in Game 4, I will be real aggressive. I have to be for us to be successful."

Oh, I'm sure he'll be aggressive in Game 4 Tuesday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The best player on the floor, no doubt, is Nowitzki, such as in the fourth quarter when he scored 15 of his game-high 34 points and snatched 11 rebounds in the game. Maybe he oozed his swagger, or maybe he was persistent for 48 minutes. Whatever it was -- if you will -- it wasn't enough to beat Heat and it surely wasn't enough to seize a commanding lead in the series.

It's telling the Mavs are not a stout team, from the oversized seven-footer in Nowitzki who act as if he's a shooting guard to the fervid owner Mark Cuban, but are fundamentally built to capture a title. But if the Mavs are seeking to win a championship, minimize the painful collapses in the past and erase the doomsday memories of postseason failures, then Dallas shouldn't just depend on Nowitzki.

"We have to be a little sharper at the beginning and not let them get their rhythm," said Nowitzki. And I thought the crowd pushed us forward. So, we’re going to need the same effort out of them. It’s basically a must-win situation."

With the exception of Nowitzki, he has manipulated the state of the series and placed significantly a heavy burden on the Heat. When he dominated in the last game, Nowitzki single-handedly defeated the Superteam and capped a historic comeback in NBA Finals history, scoring the Mavs' final nine points for a stunning victory that tied the series. The standards, in the meantime, are immense for Nowitzki just as much as the circumstances are larger than life for the Mavs as a whole.

"Haslem's fronting me everywhere, trying to keep the ball out of my hands," said Nowitzki. "He does a good job. He's active, he's quick on his feet. Down the stretch, I think he stayed down and made me shoot a contested shot and a shot I can make, but unfortunately it didn't go."

And by the time the fourth quarter arrived, he scored double-digits for the 11th time in 18 playoff games but it still was meaningless in a loss. Long before the Mavs eroded on the final basket, Nowitzki scored Dallas' last 12 points and rallied the troops from a seven-point deficit. Most folks figured, after Bosh hit the go-ahead jump shot, Nowitzki would have achieved greatness at the end.

But instead the Heat trapped him with three defenders in the middle of the floor, harassed him, and lastly, stopped him from his proverbial finishes. This would make sense when he indeed had a great look at the basket, but clearly, he missed it and was crowded. The masses in the building were stunned in disbelief that Nowitzki had a rare miss on a 16-footer, even though Udonis Haslem had a hand in his face when he attempted the jumper. For the Mavs, should the supporting cast continues to disappear and abandon the Finals, Nowitzki is marred in trouble as long as Dallas shoots 34.6 percent from the floor and take nights off by shooting a miserable 11-of-21 from the field.

"We didn't really give him much help," said Terry, who was 0-of-4 in the fourth quarter, including a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 58.9 seconds remaining. "I take a lot of that on my shoulders."

It took Nowitzki to deliver in the fourth quarter, hitting a lone three-pointer, fueling the home crowd on an electrifying dunk and even a layup, an incredible comeback as his teammates watched in delight. To be honest, the Mavs won't achieve an ambition if the Mavs score merely seven points in the final minutes.

It's the biggest game with nearly as many people watching, a moment for Terry to hit three-pointers, a moment for him to overcome his struggles. The only difference is, he's a zilch in the Finals, just as much as Jason Kidd has been inconsistent. He's known for making his teammates better, but he was scoreless with one assist in the fourth quarter.

"We've gotta have somebody else step up. Dirk is doing his part."

It was nearly an instant classic, quite fittingly, that Nowitzki played like a one-dimensional superstar, advisedly choosing to take the last shot and risk the trend of potentially leading the series. And then, as we know it, he botched the biggest shot but has undoubtedly placed himself among the NBA elites by scoring 34 of the Mavs 86 points, while the rest of the players withered in which Dallas was outscored 21-7 in the six minutes he sat on the bench. As much as we have relished Nowitzki, he is fortunate that he's been relieved with the presence of Shawn Marion, shooting 59 percent in the series with Nowitzki on the floor.

So when it comes to the Mavs, it takes a remarkable supporting cast. It takes more than Dirk. Simply, he can't do it by himself.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nowitzki Produces His Own Legend in Breathtaking Comeback

It just so happened that the Mavericks awakened when the stakes were larger than life, before Dirk Nowitzki -- a public figure too often denounced for the wrath of failures in the postseason or Finals -- encountered endless criticism. So disappointingly, for a franchise that seemed to displease us more than fascinate us, Nowitzki was the focal point of any frequent blemishes in the postseason and never prevailed to save the Mavericks from itself -- or better yet -- at least delight the petulant owner Mark Cuban.

If the Mavs dare to venture in the Finals and hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy in June, Nowitzki must know the significance in rescuing Dallas as the team was under duress and trailed for much of the night. In a way, he knows the Mavs are superb and have been evidently the deepest unit in these playoffs, elevating to an all-time high and ready to capture a championship in order to relieve themselves of the bitter collapse in the '06 Finals. So now, five years later, Nowitzki drove Dallas to one of the greatest epic comebacks in ancient history. The other night in Miami, where the liveliness in the city uplifted the mood, the Mavs weren't so lucky and lost Game 1 because of porous shooting.

Remember what happened back in the '06 Finals collapse?? If we could grasp a clearer understanding and follow one's mind, maybe we then would corral the assumption that Nowitzki won't allow this to happen again, ready to erase the nightmarish thoughts of blunders and heartbreaking collapses. The home crowd booed forcibly and turned silent when the Mavs came back from a 15-point deficit and avoided the dismay on the emotional and inspirational performance late near the end of regulation from Nowitzki. All of this defines a series filled with eventful drama, watching the Mavericks survive with a breathtaking come-from-behind victory in the closing minutes to close it out in a dramatic fashion.

“Dirk knows for us to win this series he’s going to have to play all-around basketball,” Rick Carlisle said. “He’s going to have to fight through periods where the ball isn’t necessarily going in the basket, which he did tonight.”

With 24.5 seconds on the clock, Nowitzki stood over on the sideline where he looked disgusted and furious in the huddle as head coach Rick Carlisle diagrammed a solid play on the last possession, all while Nowitzki recalled the collapse to the Miami Heat. Those are fiascoes that continue to haunt Nowitzki, and as much as he has been blamed for the struggles, he wasn't allowing the Mavs to stumble again.

Seconds later, while coming out of the timeout, he walked onto the floor in the tense seconds of Game 2 and he was given the ball after it was promised that he would touch it on the last possession. Down by 15 with over six minutes left, the Mavs rallied and survived on Nowitzki's brilliance, closing the game and tying the best-of-seven series from a magnificent 22-5 run. Once the Mavs and Nowitzki found their swagger, it was immutable to cease Dallas from an enduring run that ended the night and gave the Mavs a 95-93 win.

It's clear that the Mavs, as evidence reveals a much-improved Dallas squad after such a historic comeback, are built as a championship-caliber team. If not for Nowitzki, even if the Mavs are surrounded by an ultimate brand of talented role players, Dallas wouldn't be so resilient or poised. The salvation is a lift in the Mavericks' playoff success, hungrier and stronger than the last Finals appearance, finally playing with confidence and perseverance.

It was because of Nowitzki, a foreigner from Germany, for which the Mavericks advanced to the Finals and clearly turned it around in Game 2. It was because of a seven-footer, a skilled shooter who can knock down an array of shots with the arsenal in hurling jump shots, for which Dallas had a courageous mindset and believed in Nowitzki late in the game.

More than likely he's one of the greatest shooters, perhaps one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. It certainly feels like he is when Nowitzki hastily drove to the rim, pushed from the right to the left, lifted the ball skyward and dribbled past a defenseless Chris Bosh. That's right, he couldn't hesitate to float into the paint with a torn tendon in his index finger on his left hand and had the ball where he is notably efficient. The ball landed into the basket with 3.6 seconds left.

If Nowitzki is as mentally dominant as we've come to believe, he indeed was on this particular night, scoring nine straight points to finish one of the most improbable, implausible comebacks in NBA Finals history. This isn't to suggest, mind you, that the Mavs can win it all, celebrate and host a parade in downtown Dallas in the upcoming weeks but, in clarity, this is a series with much drama and intense excitement.

For one, if you haven't noticed, the Mavs are alive and can make it challenging for the Heat. It's such an insult to rule out the Mavs, and maybe even greater, Dallas delivered a convincing blow to the Heat. All it takes is one player to discourage and disrupt Miami's blueprint for success -- when the Heat built invincibility during the playoffs.

In most ways, the Heat probably carried a pompous disposition about themselves, and mostly everybody sensed a lopsided, uncontested finish on a night that Dwyane Wade dropped 36 points on an abundance of empathetic dunks as the Miami superstar discombobulated the Mavs. Best of all, whatever improvements the Mavericks made since '06, from roster transitions to offseason upgrades, Nowitzki shattered the Heat's heart and became an NBA legend.

Because it was a night that the Mavericks were humiliated and incensed in a blowout, as the Heat dunked on and walked all over Dallas, no one ever imagined an epic rally. It was a stunning collapse for the Heat, it was the Mavericks propelling to a historic comeback in Game 2 of the Finals. And all of the sudden, it's a thrilling series to remind the viewers what fun the NBA presents.

With the series even at 1-1, the series shifts to Dallas for the next three games resuming Sunday night. The series was OVER to some, when Wade fired a three-pointer from the corner in front of the Mavs bench and gave the Heat an 88-73 lead as the building erupted. Through the Heat's ferocious defense forced turnovers on many possessions and resulted in fastbreak dunks or alley-oops, allowing Miami to kill the Mavs in transition, Nowitzki responded like a leader and changed the dynamics of the series.

It was an unbelievable push in the final minutes and Nowitzki scored with his injured left hand, driving twice for left-handed layups, along with the game-winning shot to end any possible thoughts of foundering in a horrid catastrophe. It's rather surprising to see Jason Terry quiet in this series, but he suddenly came to life in the second game of the Finals. When he left Mario Chalmers open for an uncontested three-pointer, Nowitzki scolded him.

"Big fella told me he had my back,” Terry said. “And he did. He came down and got the game-winning bucket.”

The surest thing is that Nowitzki solidified his legacy when he scored on a jumper and heaved a layup to tie the game at 90-90. His late heroics stunned the Miami fans in the stands as he was proficient in his promise to beat the Heat and dashed to the rim.

As the Heat celebrated prematurely, Nowitzki laid it on the glass. This was the beginning to redemption for Nowitzki and the Mavs in an epic finish we'll be talking about eternally.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mavs Need Helping Hand from Dirk Nowitzki or No Glory

This was a chance for Dirk Nowitzki to make the deepest statement, to vindicate that he is the prolific player of these NBA Finals and better than ever before, to send a sense of upbeat vibes in the series. This was when Nowitzki was supposed to kick butt and channel Chuck Norris or Cynthia Rothrock, and then inspirit David Hasselhoff to join the craze in the Heart of Texas. But he's delivered a subpar performance and rendered indisputably the most chaotic, lowest scoring percentage that we had the displeasure seeing in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

What we have seen is Nowitzki expose his weaknesses at the worst possible time, unable to avenge the painful memories from when he faltered in the 2006 Finals against the Miami Heat. The star of the Dallas Mavericks poured in 27 points in the lightest fashion and eventually unveiled he had sustained a torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand. He stood in a corner on the court of American Airlines Arena in Miami, located on the edge of the bay, optimistic about his ability to play at an all-time high as the assassin who answered in prior series with no conscience for his array of phenomenal shots.

So when Nowitzki and the Mavericks withered in the first game of the series, missed shots and lost a decisive game, I had suddenly pondered and flashed back to the nightmarish point in time that he unsteadily unraveled. It's a no-brainer he's absolutely fixated on the task at hand, when he's never embraced the moment of capturing a second Western Conference title. It was the night he disappeared from the trophy presentation, jumping over the scorer's table and hiding in the tunnel to avoid the national spotlight of flashbulbs and swarming media personnel.

The last thing Nowitzki wants is another meltdown, on pace to avenge the painful collapse -- ready for a suspenseful and striking rematch on the path to redemption only if he grinds out his first ever NBA championship and doesn't come unglued in the national landscape given his reputation of descending. If you can recall, as the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead on the Heat in the '06 Finals, Nowitzki couldn't vanquish from the burden of failures in the past. There was one point, such as when we were overly obsessed with Nowitzki prematurely considered to be one of the greatest players of all-time, if not the deadliest shooter, when the god of the Mavs carried Dallas in Game 3 in Miami by maintaining a 13 point lead with 6:42 left, but then all of the sudden underperformed and took much criticism for the struggles.

Is he overrated?? In my view, he is the best player in these playoffs. And coming in a different scenario, he never has been fully capable of capturing a title or leading the Mavs to the biggest victory. This season, he was more than the freakish athlete, more than the appreciated star in Dallas, only a man endeared for modifying the personality in a sport that relies on an influx of star ballplayers. Before entering the Finals, he was a breakthrough performer who suddenly relived the moment, when he drove the Mavs literally through the postseason, including with the helpful contributions of the veteran point guard Jason Kidd, forward Shawn Marion, and the emotional defender at center Tyson Chandler and, of course, the journeyman Jason Terry -- a main fragment for the much-improved '06 Mavs.

As of today, he still has the chills and goosebumps by thinking of the bitter ending that he has never stopped dwelling on, knowing how close the Mavs were to winning a championship. That's how the situation looks for Nowitzki, a typical victim for not only allowing his opponents to defeat him, but also for beating himself. A day later, after watching film and working out in practice on Wednesday, Nowitzki said he is ready to respond. But then, he might be declining again when so much is on the line, hit by a roadblock now that the Heat stands in the way.

What's more, with many postseason appearances, is he advanced to his 11th straight postseason and started as one of only four players all time to average at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game. That wouldn't, by the numbers, rank Nowitzki higher than many active ballplayers, although he has compiled 32.2 points on 55.7 percent shooting in the Western Conference Finals. In reality, he is an elite player, but he hasn't led the Mavs to a championship and stumbled in the finish. Therefore, he is trying harder than ever to not walk away winless in his 13th season.

A couple of weeks ago, he surely recalled the Game 3 collapse with too much mournful thoughts as Nowitzki lamented and finished 2-of-14 from the floor for 16 points in Game 4 of the '06 Finals in the 98-74 rout. The point is -- he performed the choke job in prior seasons -- particularly in critical series, at this time of year. All we know is that the Mavericks, owned by the cyber bully Mark Cuban, have a bevy of experience when the billionaire has lavished his players with wealthy paychecks to build the deepest contender in the West.

Now, we are left to wonder if Nowitzki can finally lead the Mavs five years after they were obliterated by the Heat. Now, we are left to wonder if Nowitzki, who is having the best season of his outstanding career, can actually transcend in his prime with a dimensional nucleus of talent. Twice in his winsome career, Kidd has lost in the Finals. There is even Terry and Peja Stojakovic, a pair of sharpshooters with lethal ability to slaughter their opponents from long range. Then come the Mavs’ centers, Chandler and Brendan Haywood, two of the tallest players with tremendous size in the paint. There is much to like about Nowitzki -- for instance -- he has proven to be a solid player, a perennial star in the postseason, though he hasn't proven he can lead a franchise to a championship.

That much is an explanation for all the criticism the much-scrutinized megastar takes in each season. But now, quicker than he drills a three-pointer, the Mavs' aspirations might be determined based on Nowitzki's ability to play at a moment when his presence is a necessity in Dallas' championship pursuit. And whether people are willing to believe it or not, Nowitzki admittedly informed everybody that he is optimistic the middle finger on his left hand with the torn tendon won't affect his ability to release shots.

Welcome to the playoffs, folks. Over the course of his career, Nowitzki has certainly fought through pain from injuries. First, he nursed a number of ankle sprains, and then he amazingly made a speedy return after having Carl Landry's chipped teeth removed from his elbow. Earlier in the season, he also recovered from a sprained right knee and returned sooner than expected. In his career, all with the Mavs, none of his injuries debilitated his athleticism or strength to push left on the court.

When it comes to Nowitzki, he is more efficient driving left than moving the ball right, and his shooting percentage is solid on the left side. If he desires to heal the wounds of postseason flaws and treasure the celebration of winning a title, then he needs to direct the Mavs in the biggest happenstance of his lifetime. Pressured to win it all or either worsen the criticism, it's a notion that it would be a miserable travesty in Dirk's elusive NBA career if he is devoid of a championship after having his best season.

As in the case with all players, particularly the stars of the sport, winning cures everything for Nowitzki, too.