There is no way around it: the Dallas Mavericks experienced a colossal collapse during round one against the Golden State Warriors. And after listening to Randy Galloway on ESPN Radio and some moron on The Ticket, it sounds like the commentators have rebounded rather quickly. They don’t sound shocked. Dallas was expected to win the championship. They had 67 wins in an 82 game season. Dirk was/is the front runner for the MVP award this year. Avery Johnson should have been considered for Coach of the Year again. The Mavs had the seventh best season record in the history of the game. Jason Terry had an excellent shooting year. Josh Howard really seemed to come into his own.
So why, please tell us all, did the Mavs crumble under the first sign of playoff pressure?
The answer is so simple, and some fans have already picked up on it (to the consternation of the idiot press):
Dirk is not a winner. That’s the bottom line. Dirk doesn’t act like a winner. He doesn’t play like a winner. He plays with skill and talent, but HE HAS NO ATTITUDE. Dirk’s mentality is fine for pick-up games. But in the NBA playoffs, you absolutely MUST have attitude.
Just look at Steve Nash. He didn’t quite have the attitude in Dallas. But after his move to Phoenix, Nash had two things going for him that Dirk did not:
1. He had something to prove to the Mavericks and to himself
2. He joined a team of players with attitude
What Steve didn’t possess naturally, he gained through his teammates. Attitude rubs off on others, to some degree. It builds confidence. Playing with a beast like Amare Stoudamire injected some attitude into Steve’s game. He drank the koolaid since arriving in Phoenix, and you can tell that he expects to win.
Some schmoe calling in to a radio show after work on Friday summed it up nicely. He said that the problem for Dirk is that he’s German. It’s a completely different culture there. During Nowitski’s childhood, he didn’t face the same basketball culture that our kids face here. Basketball has become completely ego-centric on the blacktop and in rec centers around the country. Boys watch the NBA stars showboat and they idolize the ones with flair and attitude. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll notice that the biggest idols around the country are the players with attitude. Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, Baron Davis, Tim Duncan, Shaq, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, and Jason Kidd all have that spark – that killer instinct.
American basketball players tend to have a chip on their shoulder. They’ve had to prove themselves every day of their lives against everyone else who acts like a star. It doesn’t always make for the best team mentality, but you want someone who knows the pressure of “Do I have what it takes?” to handle the ball when the playoffs are on the line. You want a Baron Davis, as Golden State has proven, to handle the ball and make miracles happen in the most unlikely circumstances.
And DirK? Well, Dirk is a nice guy. He’s had it too good here, and he’s soft. Forget his skill. That doesn’t even matter when we’re talking playoffs. If he can’t muster up the attitude to compete, trade him, and trade him now. As Golden State proved, you don’t need an MVP candidate on your team to beat the #1 seed. You need speed, accuracy, and attitude. It will be interesting to see how the Warriors match up with the next team. If they play Utah, lookout. That could be an adrenaline pumping series. If they play Houston, I give the edge to the Warriors because of their amazing speed.
I know that some of you will call the trade of Dirk Nowitski as an extreme overreaction. I get that. You’re loyal. You drank the koolaid. I get it. But those of us who are still objective realize that Dirk will probably be a winner, but he’ll be a winner somewhere else. If he’s going to have a chance at a championship, Dirk needs to be traded and feel like he has something to prove, just like his buddy Nash (who, consequently, never won MVP until he moved away from Dallas).
I loved the Mavs for the very reason that they can’t win a championship: they’re a nice team. They’re nice guys. They’re polite, and humble. I love that attitude. But they don’t act like they’re better than anyone else. They don’t ooze confidence. They’re like teenage boys still unsure and hoping someone else will validate them. So make some trades now, Dallas, if you want to keep your fans from jumping ship.