Six games, Dallas triumphs over Miami. The team that had the sense of urgency, that played like a team and rallied behind their one superstar made the hustle plays, the big shots, grabbed the big rebounds, played better defense and ultimately won the big games when it counted most.
Congrats to Dirk, to Mark Cuban Jason Terry and especially to Jason Kidd, a player whose game i’ve admired since he was a collegian at Cal. In my personal hierarchy of greatest point guards, its Magic Johnson 1st, Jason Kidd 2nd and all else fall in line.
And as for Lebron, DWade and the rest of the Heat? Time to retool and reflect. As I stated a year ago in my blog post after the decision, its not the fact that the best and most physically gifted player in the world decided to abruptly leave the Cleveland Cavaliers team that he had led to previously never achieved heights. The shame was that this supremely gifted player decided to share top billing with another great. Voluntarily decided to be option 1a or 2, depending on how you interpret it.
To be fair, Lebron never once said he was okay with being the second option. Truth be told, he spent much of the season trying (and mostly failing) to be THE guy. The big dog, The #1 guy. During the playoffs he and the Heat ran roughshod over the 76ers, the Celtics and Chicago. He dominated in an obscene manner, even prompting Scottie Pippen at one point to proclaim him better than Jordan (Uhmm, want to rethink that one Scottie? Maybe better than you, but better than MJ?)
Then came the Finals. The games that count. The only ones that count. And once again Lebron was on the losing end. Dallas dominated, first by matching Miami’s defensive effort, then by outscoring them. The longer the games and the series went, the smaller Lebron became. The many critics that said he and DWade couldn’t play together had the ammunition they wanted, and LBJ didnt seem too interested in proving them wrong. He played tentative, passive and looked a lot more like Robin than Batman.
Now the jury is out on whether he truly realized that this was going to be the case. He has never said he was okay with not being the number 1 option. He has tried all season show that he is worthy of the title of best player in the NBA and a clutch performer. Even more than not winning a title, his underwhelming performance magnified the failure even more.
Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks. They outcoached, outhustled and outplayed the Heat. One superstar with heart and a focused team proved better than 3superstars. Case closed. Lebron is not Jordan. Never was, never will be. He is Grant Hill to DWade’s Christian Laettner. Pippin to Wade’s Jordan. Just a physically better athlete than those guys ever were. But still not possessing the heart to shoulder the load when it counts most. He told us this last summer with his decision, and a lot of people didn’t believe it. Believe it now?
That being said, next year, look for the Mavs and Lakers to battle for supremacy out West, the Heat, Knicks and Bulls to do the same in the East and an even better season next year than this.