Alrighty then. First of all I have to explain this:
Well first of all, it turns out that series was difficult or near impossible to predict (yeah right I know, so why did I do it anyway, right?). The Heat wasn’t doing their usual thing like they did against Boston or Chicago, but more importantly, the Mavs played, truly, like Champions.
Especially in this last game where Dirk wasn’t even playing well, yet his supporting cast led by Terry kept them ahead. That is the mark of a Championship or even at least a Playoffs winning team. Your superstar can always be counted upon to bring in big time shots, but for the most part your other guys should be able to handle their own and provide decent performance.
On the other hand, the Heat’s mass of missed freethrows and horrible end of 4th quarter performance is the exact opposite. You do not, you just DO NOT miss FTs in a Championship game. Also, the Mavs were just ahead by 10 or less with 5 minutes to go, and the Heat’s body language was terrible. They quit playing defense, not executing, heaving inexplicable 3 pointers and hanging their heads in timeouts. That was a breakdown and it was difficult to watch, and yes, it was not the sort of thing Championship teams do. Especially the FTs, that just haunts you.
The main reason I was wrong was a factor I didn’t take into account: Veteran leadership. The Mavs are veterans but still very capable ones. Dirk, Marion and Kidd have been there and done that. They’ll never outmuscle, outrun or outjump anyone, but they know when to apply their skills when it matters most. This as opposed to James, Wade and other young ‘uns like Rose and Durant.
I first started seeing signs of this around game 3, when they were executing their plays amd sticking to their game plans even when they were losing, which is the mark of a smart disciplined team. Whilst star players would ‘start to take over’ and henceforth stop passing the ball in crunchtime situations, vets know when to pass and when to take it in themselves, confusing the defense and resulting in higher percentage shots.
So What Now For The Heat?
Clearly all this just means it’s not their time yet, and if there’s anything they can learn from Dirk, these things take time. Approximately 13 years for him, and 7 since his last try. But it comes, and if you stick to your guns and make the right decisions (no pun intended honestly), the opportunity will once again present itself and you will apply the knowledge you have (painfully) learned today to get a better chance at success.
Don’t forget this is just a new team. A brand new team ending up 2nd place in its first year is still an incredible feat and is nothing to sniff at. You’ve got to hand it to Coach Spoelstra for forming a contender, and even more so for maintaining a good team pre-James. If he hadn’t done a good job Miami wouldn’t have been attractive to James and eventually Bosh, and they wouldn’t even be on the map right now. That’s very impressive.
Let The Hating Begin
I’m hoping at the end of the day that people would celebrate the Mavs victory rather than the Heats’ loss. BTW I learned that early on when I was playing tennis, when my coach taught me ‘not to clap during errors’, meaning I should only clap if the player I was cheering for scored a point as opposed to earning a point via his opponent’s error (which is very often in most racket sports). If you watch the top ATP tours, the ‘smart’ crowds do exactly that, adding to the prestige to the sport.
But in basketball? Given its great popularity now, I don’t have my hopes up.
I have been surrounded by the sport in some way since my teens. I have played it, read about it, am writing about it now, and have been around a lot of players and people like me as well. If there’s one thing we agree on, basketball is just a game. A game we love and the people in it respect, but still just a game. What’s important, what is truly important is the stuff you get from it, like values, mores, respect and love. I watch the people who go out into the streets and burn jerseys, go out onto the ‘net and spit vitriol and nastiness they wouldn’t otherwise say in the face of the people they’re referring to, and I think to myself: These guys do not know basketball, or at least, not the way I know it.
I still do not understand hating completely. It seems to come from different areas, a result of different things. But I’ve learned enough to know at least I’m not gonna go around telling people off, and that this is the way they should do this or that. In the eyes of a hater that just adds more hate. I just know that sooner or later, if they truly care for the sport, they will eventually know what I know. As long as they continue to watch it, care for it, play it, write about it, talk about it, be around it, they will eventually get to feel the love and respect people have for each other in this game.
The Heat lost against the Mavs today, but it’s all good. I feel great for the veterans to finally get their Championship rings, and I still feel good for the Heat inspite of their setback, because I know it’s just a step they need to take towards the greatness in store for them. In the end though, we fans were the winners. We watched an exciting series, had a lot of fun cheering on our bets, and enjoyed a brief respite from the humdrum of our usual lives. Other than that though, it was just a game. A beautiful, extraordinarily compelling and exciting game that I love to watch and play, but just a game. It’s certainly not enough to warrant hate.