Friday, May 04, 2007

Feeling Numb

The 2006-07 Dallas Mavericks were a thing of pure beauty; driven determination, confidence, wins and a mission to not only return to the Finals, but to win them.

If the regular season alone indicated the NBA champion, then I would have written this blog from Dallas while sitting in the grandstand at City Hall watching a parade that ended with the Larry O'Brien trophy.

But it doesn't.

The post-season is where champions are made, and I think my hometown team, the Dallas Mavericks, never grasped that during this year's playoffs. I remember growing up in Dallas, when the playoffs were a dream, not a given like they are now. I remember when getting there was just enough, and winning was merely a dream. That was the way that Golden State approached the playoffs.

And that, and that alone is why Golden State beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games during the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Was AJ outcoached by Nellie? Sure.
Did Baron Davis outplay Nowitzki? Absolutely.
Was the crowd in Oakland more impactful? Probably so.

But in the end, it came down to desire. I don't really feel that Dallas particularly cared, and I think these Mavs were tired. No one is taking into account the games that they have played in the last three years. In 2005, the Mavs were ousted from the second round. In 2006, Dallas lost the NBA Finals in 6 games and this year, the Mavs won 67 games, they were tired.

Back to my questions. Nellie did outcoach AJ, but given his years and experience, that is to be expected. But then again AJ has been where Nellie never has as a coach, and definitely not as a first or second year coach, so get off of the General's back please.

Baron Davis showed heart, determination, soul, compassion, passion, energy, undeniability. Dirk proved his critics correctly by being listless, disinterested and ultimately feckless in the final game of the series. Yes, there were other Mavs on the floor, but can anyone honestly say that Josh Howard didn't come to play, or that Stackhouse didn't come to play after a shaky start? Can anyone honestly say that Devin Harris didn't play well or that Diop wasn't a formidable force? No. Jason Terry was seemingly invisible in this series, but then again, it all falls on the MVP candidate...Dirk.

Nowitzki faded away before our very eyes, and the commentators never really attacked him for it nearly with the zeal that they condemned Steven Jackson for his emotion and tenacity. Give me Steven Jackson in a minute, problems and all, because he's going to leave it all on the floor, and he's done it before. Real Mavs fans know that it was him, and really him alone who did the Mavs in during the 2003 Western Conference Finals.

Nowitzki will get the heap of the blame because he would also have gotten the praise had Dallas won as well. It comes with the territory that is fame, money and big time professional sports. And it when it mattered most, he didn't perform. This will be remembered forever, and this will be replayed forever, just like the shot of Dikembe Mutumbo gripping the ball in pure joy when an 8 seed defeated a 1 seed in 1994 has been played ad nauseam. And this time, when the clip of Davis bumping Nowitzki and drilling a three as #41 flops to the floor is played until my unborn sons and daughters see it and recognize it, it will be a constant and consistent reminder of the disappointment that this season was.

I feel numb because why should I care, if they didn't? I mean, I'm just a fan. They're the one's whose job it was to win, not mine. It was my job to brag and be philosophical.

But, I should've seen this coming. The last time we won our divisional championship, we lost in the first round of the playoffs to the upstart Seattle Supersonics and Dale Ellis who was a former Maverick. How fitting that 20 years ago to the date, the Mavs lost at the hands of their former head coach who brought winning ways back to the oft maligned and seemingly plagued team?

So when you want to know how I'm feeling about this, I'm feeling numb.

I'm Joe, and that's how I see it.

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