When the playoffs began, the series which looked like an upset lock was San Antonio/Dallas. Sure, most people picked the Mavs, but I loved the Spurs for the following reasons:
1) San Antonio is finally healthy. When they have all their players, this team is capable of winning thier 5th World Championship since 1999.
2) Dallas has a history of early exits, in my opinion because Dirk Nowitzki is their best player. Much like Pau Gasol, Dirk is a great complimentary player who needs a superstar to win a title. Nowitzki is soft, doesn’t play defense and will never win a championship if he’s the lead guy.
In the Spurs closeout 97-87 win last night, Dirk shot the ball well, scored 33 points and didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates….
But he only had five rebounds and didn’t carry his team to victory….
The great ones dig in on defense, get to the free throw line, do the dirty work and find a way to win. Typical of Nowitzki, most of his points came from the outside and he only got to the free throw line six times….
I know Mark Cuban will blast the officiating and point out that his team shot only 15 free throws, compared to 31 for the opposition. Also, 27 fouls were called on the Mavericks and only 17 on the Spurs….
But that’s the type of team the Mavs are; soft, bad defensively and lots of jump shots….
Led by their leader, who is as soft as tissue paper and the #2 option on a championship team….
After the game, Dirk pondered his future and hinted he may opt of the final year of his contract, which pays him $21M. That might not be a bad idea, with the strike coming after next season and the owners determined to drastically cut salaries….
Sure, giving up $21M sounds crazy, but if he can get a five year deal for big money, he should do it….
The 2011 strike is going to be ugly and unless the players cave and accept a bad deal, the owners will be more than willing to lock them out for the entire season….
The owners are talking about a hard cap, meaning the elimination of the Bird rule and a 50% reduction in salaries. And they’re not going to give in….
In 1999 the players talked a good game about solidarity, but as soon as a few paychecks were missed they came crawling back and signed what Nick Van Exel called “a horses*** deal.”….
Unlike the baseball, NBA players have a history of being undisciplined, spending too much money, partying, supporting possees and knocking up women….
So when the paychecks stop coming, they’re facing bankruptcy and panic….
It will be fascinating to see how strong they are after next season, when they will either accept dramatic change or not get paid for at least a year….