The NBA Finals, a winning script
There are certain elements that a good movie needs to have to capture an audience’s attention, to keep an audience’s attention, and to inhabit a place in the audience’s heart. I know I’m not going to house good vibrations about something long after it’s done if I can’t find a way to connect to it. I love “The Shawshank Redemption” because it is easy to sympathise with Andy Dufresne, an everyman who was wrongfully imprisoned. I love “Into the Wild” because we’ve all felt like Christopher McCandless at one time or another, wanting to live outside a flawed societal structure and blaze our own trail. I love “Hot Rod” because the part when Rod tells Denise that she looks shitty cracks me up.
At the heart of every unforgettable movie, there is an accessible protagonist whose shoes the audience can step into and understand why they do what they do. Let’s use “The Truman Show” as our example, since Dallas coach Rick Carlisle starred in it.
The most underrated movie in Jim Carrey’s filmography tells the story of Truman Burbank, a man who was adopted by a TV station and had his life filmed and broadcasted to the entire world. Truman works at an insurance company and is a likable everyman who struggles through a bit of an identity crisis when he begins to catch on to the whole “my entire life has been filmed and has aired on national television” idea.
The NBA Finals have truly been a major Hollywood production for several reasons. Cut to Dirk Nowitzki, one of the top one least hatable superstars the NBA has ever seen. The only people who hate him also hate V-neck shirts and a Wendy’s Frosty, so they have no credibility. Prior to this postseason, the verdict on Dirk was that he couldn’t close out a game. He shattered this identity he had been labeled with by scoring a bunch of fourth quarter points in the Finals. Crisis = solved: the dude can finish.
Despite being a seven-foot German, America felt like they could relate to Dirk Nowitzki because he is a humble guy going up against a big evil force. Superstars have changed teams before, but none until LeBron have turned it into such a grand spectacle, broadcasting it live 24/7 and creating a “Trumania” (yes, the Heat are Christof here). None have assumed the crown before earning it like the Miami Heat did. None have carried themselves with as much smug asshole-ery as LeBron and Wade. None have looked as much like an ostrich or raptor or other animal of choice as Chris Bosh.
This all culminated to make them a team hated unlike any other before them. In the 2010-2011 NBA season movie, the Miami Heat are Voldemort, Master Shredder, Team Rocket, almost every role Will Arnett has ever played, and Lord Farquaad. The entire country became 76ers fans in the first round, Celtics fans in the second round (although that bandwagon was already kind of large to begin with), Bulls fans in the Eastern Conference Finals, and Mavs fans in the big show.
There’s always love for Scal.
I remember the exact moment when my disdain for the Heat went from a casual dislike because of LeBron jumping ship in Cleveland and because they were serious competition to my Celtics: in late January, Dwyane Wade said, “We’re not the Boston Celtics. We’re not these kinds of teams that need to play together.” Are you serious? You don’t need to play together? If all it took was a big time player to take over, score points and forget that there are others wearing jerseys similar to his, Allen Iverson would have nearly as many rings as fingers to put them on.
From day one, kids learning the game are taught that basketball is a team game. It’s not baseball, where a dominant pitcher can take over (even then, only sometimes), or tennis, where it’s just a foreign guy, his luxurious hair and his racket. One Dallas player admitted that the Heat were fielding three of the four best players on the court every night. A competitor deep in the Finals would never admit that their opponents were a better team, so what does that say about his stance on teamwork and how one guy can’t just take over? (By the way, I just forget who said the “three out of four players” thing, I don’t feel like checking.)
Dirk said himself that he needed help, and being one of those “teams that needs to play together,” other guys stepped up while he went through his fever and through his awful first half in Game 6. DeShawn Stevenson hit key threes. Terry picked up the some of the scoring burden. Chandler grabbed big rebounds that extended possessions. Jason Kidd continued being a triple-double threat. J.J. Barea stepped into the starting lineup and brought his spark from the bench with it.
It was obvious to anybody with a brain stem that the Mavs are Dirk’s team, but he was smart enough to not claim that he is the team. When the pressure was on, the pressure was on the whole squad, not just Dirk, who acknowledged and played like he was not the only one on the court capable of hitting the big shot or getting the big stop. LeBron put the pressure on his shoulders and crumbled beneath it (Wade had the pressure too, but he was clutch enough to handle it). Two people can’t take as much as 9 or so can. When weight is spread over a larger area, there is less surface pressure. It’s science, look it up.
Moviegoers love a happy ending, when the good guy overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to claim victory. Dirk and his crew of supposedly over-the-hill old-timers had the maturity to handle themselves with class and to rely on each other to defeat the flashy young guns who thought they already had it all figured out. America latched on to this team because Dallas were the good guys who had a big hill to climb.
Nice guys allegedly finish last, but it’s always the villain who says that, right before he doesn’t show up in the fourth quarter and reminds his haters that he is richer and better than them after he loses. The final twelve minutes are where games are won and lost, but in case we don’t see you there, LeBron, “good afternoon, good evening and good night.”
2011 NBA Finals ‘Online DVD’
The NBA will offer one of those cutesie thirty-or-whatever-dollar Mavericks championship DVDs, but the price is always a bit steep, especially for the casual fan who doesn’t pledge allegiance to the champion, but enjoyed the drama and intensity of a great NBA Finals.
This is why I have made a sort of “online championship DVD,” compiling relevant YouTube clips and stats into a quality summary of the Mavs’ and Heat’s seasons and the Finals. There are over 246 minutes, or about 4 hours, of great video content here.Presenting the NBAmmkay 2011 NBA Finals “Online DVD”
~~ NBA Mini Movies: The NBA produced a series of 6-7 minute YouTube videos for each game of the Finals that capture both the drama and the highlights of every night, which cumulate into a nice 40-minute feature when watched consecutively.
~~ Game summaries: Highlights from NBA.com (25 minutes)
~~ Dirk Nowitzki receiving the Finals MVP award (2 minutes)
~~ Box scores: Complete statistics from Basketball-Reference.com that cover the entire playoffs, stats leaders and much more.
~~ Miami Heat Championship: What seems to be the 2006 Championship DVD. (59 minutes)
~~ Final minute of 2006 Finals: It is possible to watch all of Game 6 by going to the user’s channel and watching all 11 parts of the video. (9 minutes) // Watch final minute- Bonus Features: The Mavericks
~~ NBA Stories: Dirk Nowitzki: a 25-minute special from 2008 that covers Dirk’s entire career, from his upbringing in Germany to his 50-point playoff game.
~~ Mavericks 2011 Top Plays: Different Top 10 videos about the season the Mavs have had. (12 minutes)
~~ The Decision: Somebody recorded this copy with a camera, but it’s the only complete version I could find. (37 minutes)
~~ Inside the HEAT: Dwyane Wade: A local TV special about Wade’s career. (23 minutes)
~~ Heat 2011 Top Plays: Different Top 10 videos about the season the Heat have had. (14 minutes)
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Jason Kidd finally beat someone that wasn’t his wife.
My brother Dom.
I love me some Jason Kidd and some Mavericks, but this was too funny not to share.
Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks, NBA Champions
What the Finals MVP is up to later this evening:
The world and their mother is predicting that LeBron’s gonna bounce back with a 40-21-18 performance after his meltdown of an affair the last go around. He ought to outscore DeShawn Stevenson this time, but Wade is Miami’s man (during this series, at least), and regardless of what LeBron does, Wade will lead his Heat crew… unless he takes a back seat like LeBron last game, but with the fight in him, I don’t see that happening. LeBron had to be scolded like a shy unassuming kid to be aggressive and shoot the ball by Wade. We all know that would never happen with Dwyane Wade.
Game 5 at 9 on ABC // Like NBAmmkay on Facebook
I hit 200 followers this morning, thanks for reading, everybody.
I have a funny feeling Dirk knew he would have a game-alteringly-bad fever of 100+ degrees before it hit him. When he called out Jason Terry yesterday for not being clutch, he was setting tinder and kindling under him and flicking a match, in slow motion like a movie villain would as his plan unfolds.
With Nowitzki putting on his No-win-ski mask for much of the first three quarters, shooting only 6 for 19 on the game, Terry had to assume more scoring responsibilities (17 points) as well as instigate some defensive action (3 steals). When it came down the the final twelve minutes, Terry was 3-7 and as effective as I imagine Dirk was hoping for.
The Burnin’ German (bad fever joke, sorry about that) was a wounded animal all game, or to use a more fun metaphor, Rocky Balboa in the fourth and greatest film in the franchise (don’t let anybody tell you otherwise about either of those labels). Dirk/Rocky caught the black plague/got abused all game/fight, but when it mattered in the end, overcame his illness/physical inferiority and scored ten points in the fourth quarter/defeated Ivan Drago. The only difference is that here, the giant foreigner with the fantastic haircut was the good guy.
Despite getting rejected like Smalls at the sandlot by Wade, Tyson Chandler may have been the most important Maverick in this game. He did drop 13 points, yes, but his 16 rebounds were the centerpiece of his stat line. A lot of those rebounds were crucial tips that extended possessions, allowed for additional scoring opportunities and burned big seconds off the clock.
As for the South Beach bums (not a play on their performance but on the phrase “beach bum”), LeBron James was virtually silent with 8 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Those numbers actually look pretty good, but it was noticeable watching the game that King James was not himself. As NBAOffseason.com just-just put it, “Take it back, Scottie. RIGHT NOW.”
Bosh had a big first half with 16 points, but scored half that the second half. I forgot about his existence until I looked back over the game and remembered his first 24 minutes (and the ostrich face he makes when he screams). It’s a given at this point in the Finals, but Wade was huge as well, scoring 32 points on 13-20 shooting and coming up with two huge blocks in the final minutes.
Four non-Dirk Mavericks came up with at least 11 points to supplement the sickly Nowitzki, who knows he’ll probably have to play better if he expects to beat the Heat the next go around; 6 of 19 won’t cut the mustard. There seems to be no stats available for Dirk’s performance in games after reaching a body temperature of 102 degrees, so I have no idea what the future of this series holds… except for the customary 10 or so fourth quarter points, Larry Bird comparisons, knee-in-your-face fadeaways and one hell of a ride.
“They keep sticking him [LeBron] on Jet [Terry] in the fourth quarters and he’s been doing a good job. Jet hasn’t really been a crunch-time, clutch player for us the way we need him to.” -Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk recently called Terry out for not having the stones to come up big when the Mavs need him to late this series, but how much truth is behind that assertion?
Terry is shooting 2-12 from the field in the fourth quarter, which all you math majors know equals a smudge less than 25%. All of those made shots came in Dallas’ only win: Game 2, in the final period of which Terry went 2-5.
Point: trends suggest Jet’s gotta stroke it for the Mavs to have a chance tonight.
Game 4 at 9 on ABC. // Like NBAmmkay on Facebook