Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2011 NBA Finals More About Altering Identity Than Hoisting The Trophy

This year’s NBA Finals may crown the champion for this NBA season, but the teams that will play in it have been ready for this moment way before the start of this year.

In 2006, Dirk Nowitzki and his Mavericks slumped back into the locker room after being shellacked by the Heat in four straight losses, which was proceeded with wins in the first two games of the Finals. With that being the franchise’s only attempt at winning a title in their history, it was chalked up as another tally in the lose column for a team with no championships despite being constant regulars in the playoffs.

Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were all heralded as dynamic players who were deeply beloved and followed since all three were drafted in the top five of the 2003 NBA Draft. Since they all joined up with the Miami Heat last summer, they have now been identified as the biggest antagonists in all sports because of their selfishness to come together and form an overpowering dynasty intent on taking over the NBA.

Both teams will now come to a head in the NBA season finale, with the winner understanding that it’s not just the Larry O’Brien trophy at stake, but a bigger justice of shedding away the negative connotations attached to themselves and their franchises.

The only two remaining members from the 2006 Mavericks team may be Nowitki and Jason Terry, but the rest of the team is filled with members who have been tagged with the same identity of being a choker throughout their careers.

Point guard Jason Kidd will go down in history as one of the top point guards to have ever played the sport of basketball. Yet, despite the numerous triple-doubles, all-star selections, and gold medals he’s won with the USA Olympic Basketball team; the former University of California, Berkeley star has come up empty in his previous thirteen postseason appearances (including two Finals losses to the Spurs and Lakers as a New Jersey Net).

Being in the playoffs regularly was always a part of Peja Stojakovic’s career. Having played in 76 postseason games for the Kings, Hornets, and Pacers, the 33-year-old sharpshooter was a notable part on a variety of team’s runs through the playoffs. Yet, he’s always come up short of being on a franchise that can truly call themselves champions.

Nowitzki, Kidd and Stojakovic’s inability to claim an NBA title as their own isn’t just reflective of Dallas’ key players, but for everyone who currently wears the teal and grey colors of the Mavericks. Of all the fifteen players on the current roster, no player has ever gone on and been a part of a championship team.

Being successful is an identity many of the guys on the squad have always had, but their constant failing to win a NBA title has always dominated their triumphs.

Supremacy is exactly the reason James, Wade and Bosh decided to join and stick around in Miami. The idea of “taking their talents to South Beach” was an excellent notion in the eyes of the three superstars. The choice to control their future was in their hands after the end of 2010 NBA playoffs, but none of them could have imagined just how hated they would become when it happened.

Prior to this season, the three were the darlings of the league. They were beloved in any city they went to play in and sold out stadiums anytime they were the opposition’s road team. All three were deemed saviors of their franchises and for a league whose key players were entering the twilight of their careers. Never had any of them ever had to endure being hated and mocked at any point in their career.

That is, until after their big declaration in Miami.

As they hosted, boasted, and toasted during their celebration party with the city after they all signed on to be a part of the Heat, the would proclaim loudly that not only would they win a title for their city, but they would do it on numerous occasions.

This became the defiant moment when they turned from the face of the NBA to the heels of the league. Everywhere they went they were booed extensively and fans would cry bloody-murder for their teams to destroy them.

When they finished the month of November with a 10-8 record, they were denigrated and laughed at for their pre-season, boastful antics. After constantly dropping games at the tail end of the fourth quarter from January through March, they were scorned as a franchise with high-end talent who were incapable of finishing off teams. Even coach Erik Spoelstra’s comment of players crying in the locker room was made a mockery of and added gasoline to the fire of labeling the Heat as the league’s top adversaries.

All that bantering and targeting of the big three in Miami as the enemy did was enrage them and allow them to grow stronger together for a greater cause: win the championship to erase those labels.

Winning the title is everything to each player in the NBA. It allows them to reach heights that most would do anything to get to. Only fifteen players a year get to say they are champions and reaching that status can do wonders for their legacy.

The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks understand that concept very well; as the winner of the 2011 NBA Finals will not only be champions, but finally erase the labels they have come to be identified with.

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