Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dirk Side of the Force

Dirk Nowitzki finally exorcised his demons of failures past by leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 4-2 NBA Finals victory over the heavily favored Miami Heat and its "big" triumvirate of All Stars Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Without the benefit of homecourt advantage and down 1-0 and 2-1 in one of the most exciting Finals ever, Nowitzki battled even more formidable odds in Game 4 with a torn left middle finger tendon (he wore a splint since Game 2) AND a flu virus. Inspired by the gallant effort of their main man playing through pain and illness, Dallas pulled off yet another trademark come from behind victory to tie the series at home and turn the tide in their favor.

With the top seeds falling by the wayside in the playoffs (my Lakers, included), and with the apparent ease that Miami manhandled New York, Boston and Chicago, it became an interesting "good vs evil" Finals subplot. While many still supported Miami (Filipinos rooted for Fi-Am Heat coach Erik Spoelstra), Lebron James, the self-anointed "King" who left Cleveland to team up with Wade and Bosh in a selfish, desperate attempt to win a championship , became the face of greed and villainy.

A fan made poster which went viral during the finals

Fans (not a few of them Cavaliers faithful) rallied around the Mavericks, who came into the finals as the underdogs, despite breezing into the play-offs themselves. I rooted for Dallas because:

a. I wanted the team who beat my Lakers, the defending champs, become this season's champs themselves.
b. I wanted Jason Kidd, the charismatic Mavs captain and PG, to earn a ring. Like Dirk, Cap'n Kidd is also a future Hall of Famer haunted by many seasons of frustration and disappointment. With the lock-out looming next season, Jason Kidd would most likely retire.
c. I own a Dirk Nowitzki #41 Adidas jersey, which I won in a Gatorade raffle two years ago.

d. I believe piggy-back riders do not deserve a championship.

Where Dirk played on magnificently despite illness and injury, a healthy pretender-King sputtered and failed miserably.

Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, summed it up nicely in his tweet:

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