Wednesday, June 15, 2011
In 2006 I watched the Mavericks crater… they were up by 2 games…and in game 3 of the NBA Finals the Dallas Mavericks had just lost a 20 point lead and the game. The Miami Heat went on to win 4 straight games and ultimately the Championship Series. Being a sports fan, that one hurt….until this week, whenever I would think about that game, I would still wince in anguish.
All those basketball demons of 2006 have been vanquished into the pit of hell. With 30 seconds left in game 6 of this year’s NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki stared up at the clock and realized that his dream of being a champion was about to come to fruition. The nation looked on…the polls showed that 84% of the NBA fans were cheering for the Mavs. Yes, those Mavs…Dirk a 14 year veteran…Jason Terry….Jason Kidd…38 years old who had to have a walker to get on the court….you know…a bunch of “washed up has beens”...the Maverick TEAM.
If you watched any of the ESPN coverage you realized that the national media was more interested in the Miami Heat…only last summer did we all tune into the ESPN show, “The Decision.” The show where Lebron James in all his hallowed greatness announced to his kingdom, us mere mortals and peasants, that he would bless us all by “Taking his talents to South Beach .” It was orchestrated…Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh…and now “His Hallowness King James” were to be the 3 head monster that was to bring not one,…not two…how many? 8?…yes at least 8 championships. At least that is what “His Holiness” predicted. Three of the most talented professionally basketball players were going to be on the same team. How could anybody beat them?
Contrast that with Dirk Nowitzki. Just like His majesty Lebron, Dirk was a free agent…with the ability to name his price…put himself on the open market…pretty much go where he wanted to go…and demand a crazy amount of money. Dirk re-signed with Dallas…and outside of the metroplex it went unnoticed for the most part…there was no ESPN special…no resounding trumpets….no big party at the American Airlines Center like the one in Miami showcasing the big 3. Dirk simply said the Maverick organization and Dallas in general had been good to him…and this was where he wanted to be...where he wanted to play. Dirk has no manager…no agent….does no endorsements. Dirk doesn’t trash talk…he doesn’t showboat...character counts.
In the fall of 2010, the Dallas Mavericks began the season…they had their ups…and downs…and were given a long shot to make it to the finals. They added Tyson Chandler to the roster. They toiled away…began to develop as a team…began to sharpen one another…to bond…as a TEAM.
Unless you live in a hole in the land of the hobbits, you have to know that a bunch of old guys who played as a team, beat the chosen 3 who had guaranteed 8 NBA titles. The Mavericks had 9 players that made significant contributions in the finals. Cardinal drawing a charging foul on Wade…JJ Berea driving a stake through the Heat’s heart with a crucial 3 point shot at the 4 minute mark in game 6. Dirk in his own words, was out of rhythm in the first half of game 6 hitting 1 of 12 from the field. Jason Terry and Berea pick up the slack nailing shots from down town....and we can't forget the elder statesman, Jason Kidd, running the offense, the second oldest player to ever win a title.
My son, Luke, came into the room to watch the Mavs close out the championship. I look over to him and ask, “Why did the Mavs beat a team that had more raw talent?” “Dad,” he responds, “The Mavs are a team.” It’s cliché…you hear it when you play your first game when you’re 5 years old. But it’s true…not only in the NBA Finals…but in life.
I have written about my brother riding 360 miles on a bicycle with a team. On morning he, being a pastor, was asked to give a devotional. He turned to Ecclesiastes 4…specifically verses 9-12…v.12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” A week of cycling will help you quickly realize that 2 can travel faster than one…drafting saves up to 30% energy.
King James should have lent his ear to King Solomon for Solomon understood a simple principal. Miami's Big 3...snapped like a chicken bone...3 individual strands...broken.
Teamwork...coming together as one...It works in a marriage…it works in training…it works in an Ultramarathon crew…it works in cycling…it works in the NBA. To have someone there to pick you up when you fall…it’s Jason Terry draining the 3 pointer when Dirk is out of rhythm…
…in basketball….in life.