The Mavs Send The Thunder To Summer School 100-96 and Move On To The Finals: Some Thoughts On Dirk, Durant and Westbrook (Mainly Dirk)

Whatcha gonna do Dirk?

Before we give it all to Dirk like many already have let’s stop and put things in perspective…

Didn’t watch the second half. I picked the Thunder to win 118-105 because I thought Kevin Durant had a 50 point game in him. 8-20…23 points…9 boards does not equal 50 and surely not what he had in mind. Most likely he didn’t care what he scored but more of doing whatever it took for his team to survive another game in OKC’s path to learn the NBA way of winning a title.

Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the Mavs had something major to do with that. Physically able, savvy veterans usually win. Repetition is the key. Losing is like a grand mom hand picked switch. Emotions are bridled when you learn how to win. Singular victorious moments aren’t over celebrated.

It appears the Matrix was the deciding factor and because of J. J. Barea and Jason Terry, Dirk didn’t have to shoot lights out the entire game. The Mavericks will now be one of the last two teams in line to win a title. That’s a major accomplishment. An accomplishment allowing Mark Cuban to look good no matter what happens in the Finals because now he’s done it with two different coaches with vastly different styles. Jason Terry is now Josh Howard. Jason Kidd stars as the Hall of Fame link to Dallas past looking for career validation. Shawn Marion the grounded former world class athlete more than happy to be in this position. Caron Butler the unwilling cheerleader. Rick Carlisle the offensive guru looking to break through like Adelman, Nelson, Westhead, Westphal and other run and gun coaches couldn’t do.

Carlisle has added a semblance of defense but Dallas’ goal remains to spread the floor and hit the open shooter in rhythm with Dirk being obviously the first option.

Is Dallas in the right place at the right time? Are they Kidd’s New Jersey Nets because the West is a shell of the recent dominating conference we’ve grown accustomed to? Was Dallas fortunate to catch the Lakers insecure, tired and locker room wounded? Probably, but yet and still the Mavericks got it done.

They got it done behind the absolutely shocking persistence of Dirk Nowitzki. I didn’t think Dirk had it in him. Sorry, that’s just how it is but he’s stepped up and proven me and many others wrong…to this point.

Dirk had one of the great performances in recent memory against the now disposed of Thunder but Dallas was supposed to win this series right? I picked Dallas because they are vets. When I say I didn’t think Dirk had it in him I’m speaking of his heart. His heart is beginning to come to the fore and his team, city and NBA fans are beginning to notice.

When LeBron and the Heat get past the Bulls how will this story end? Will society be validated once again placing a white knight vs. the dreaded black villain and praying…kerchief smelling of perfume in hand…for the hero to slay the bad guy in grand style like back in the day when choppy film, Scott Joplin painted piano keys…sans character sound was an affectionate guilty pleasure?

Of course Miami has to get past Chicago…which they will do tonight 100-92…but watch what happens when the inevitable finally comes to fruition. This is gonna be Dirk vs. LeBron just like many want it to be. I don’t know why outside of insanity folks hate an athlete having nothing to do with their lives so cotdamn much when criminals near and far are glorified to the delight of many…but that’s another story right?

Dirk can not be let off the hook.

When a player is seven foot with that shooting ability, he absolutely should be held to a championship standard. He should have been doing this at Durant’s age…consistently. Now that he’s balling out of his mind vs. lesser opponents (LA was in disarray), everyone wants to give him props?

If you ask any legend, most will tell you both he and LeBron must win a title before all respect is due. Charge it to the game but it remains true that cats who didn’t win rings are…and maybe undeservedly so…a tier behind the champions. The champions are the players who could be MVP before every training camp. The once in a generation type players where pundits have to find excuses to not give them the award. Stats don’t matter. Shine doesn’t matter. Fan and media love or hate…doesn’t matter. They get on the damn floor and save the ball from falling out of bounds and away from the court that is their life.

It’s all about the ring. That Summer Groove.

If I see one more graphic comparing Dirk to Bird I’ll go off. Is this because he’s white, looks like Shaggy (Zoinks!) and can shoot the rock? What?

Let’s compare: Clutch shooter? Bird. Passer? Bird. Rebounder? Bird? Toughness? Bird. All around ability? Bird. Intangibles? Bird.

Heart? Bird.

Bird was never labeled soft.

Dirk is the flavor of the month and beating a team with a bunch of stars barely able to drink alcohol will not diminish that his career up to this point has been less than stellar (when pundits here and far are saying he’s in the top 50).

no. No. NO.

Stop that. Please. If he continues this incredible play and carries it throughout next season superstar thriving then I’ll give him his props.

This is not about race (crazy I have to repeat this over and over) but more about fact so again stop that. Think about it, who in the top 50 should be replaced? McAdoo and ‘Nique didn’t even make the list. Spencer Haywood was as talented a basketball player as we’ve ever seen. He’s not on the list. Dirk is in the discussion to be included in this tier of players but his career isn’t over yet. Let’s wait and see.

Before you ask or even think it, comparing Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James is not accurate. Two different players with two very different set of expectations. Dirk is great shooter (who happens to be 7 foot) with no real broad based expectations to win a title immediately coming into the league. He is a very uniquely gifted player who should get 15 boards in his sleep but he doesn’t. If a player has a full head of steam and Dirk is standing in front of the rim, that player has no fear to bang on him.

LeBron on the other hand, will make a player pull up or maybe get lucky like Jordan Crawford. There will be a ubiquitous split second of thought . I say this because when is the last time a championship player was virtually one dimensional? What else does Dirk do?

Durant has to understand this and become a more rounded player. I personally wouldn’t mold my game after Dirk like some have suggested. I would shoot and emulate (to a degree) the pantheon because the pantheon does whatever it takes. The pantheon knows putting up shots is just a part of becoming a winner.

Dirk should be held to a different standard. He’s an MVP. He played in the Finals and made multiple all star teams but he has to earn the pantheon.

We should be thinking Gervin or Barry or Vandeweghe first before we even mention the likes of Bird. (addendum: 6:44 pm writer Larry Durstin suggested Bob Petit in a facebook comment – Mizzo)

Congratulations to the Mavs for beating a bunch of young boys. Clap everybody because in sarcasm a soft label is shed and now Dallas is champions of NBA men.

Dirk you are now on the clock. Win a title. It’s right in your face. Do not come up short if you want to become legendary. This is your shot. Make it happen.

What I do applaud Dirk for is maintaining his ability after so many years of playoff disappointment. You have to give it to him that he’s a great great shooter and maybe one of the best we’ve ever seen, but again, he has to realize it takes more than that to become a champion. Ask George Gervin.

If Durant continues to lose year after year like Dirk Nowitzki he will be scrutinized in deservedly the same way. Remember Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Stockton and Malone, Payton and Kemp, Kidd and Nash. Yeah they caught mad wreck. Durant is 22 and his expectations…or Rose’s…are not the same as LeBron’s for now.

LeBron came out the womb demanding rings and many things.

Durant, like Dirk, is a good dude.

When I spoke with him a few years back he spoke of his base and what they meant to him:

MT: That support base. I think of mine and how strong it is with my family and friends…specifically my sister, editor and the sistas and fellas here on TSF and I want to help folks realize that without a base, there are too many other things to think about. You have one from Baltimore reaching to Texas and now in OKC.

KD: “Without them, I just can’t see how I would function everyday. My family is here with me everyday. My brother, my Mom, my Grandmomma, my Dad…they help me out all the time.

Every time I’m at a game I see them.

Even away games. They come out to the away games. Support is big. People might not it. They think that when they are grown they don’t need it but it’s not true. You see someone in the stands that you know and when you are not playing so well it inspires you. It always give you that extra…to keep pushing and it kinda gets you ahead…you gotta keep pushing and things start to turn around.

That support system is very important for me man and like you said, fans from Texas always give me support as well. It’s unbelievable to have that support. Hopefully it continues.”

I posted that quote in particular because that is who Kevin Durant is. If anyone is expecting him to rock the boat they are mistaken. Dude was and is loved every single day of his life by his base and it’s made him truly a great person in the mold of Donovan McNabb. If he has the career McNabb has we should all applaud his accomplishments.

Yes, he wants a title and should be held to a standard deeply encapsulated in that mindset but overly critical pandering journalism in any regard yet is diminishing of his current search for professional maturity. His legacy is not chipped because he fell to a more seasoned outfit any way than if the same happens to Derrick Rose tonight.

It’s the same I felt of Dirk early in his career. He was pummeled by Webber, Duncan and Garnett because of age and experience but now it appears to be his time.

Russell Westbrook is a different story. He’s precocious. He’s talented but at this stage in the game, he is not a point guard. Maybe a summer of working with Scotty Brooks and more importantly Maurice Cheeks (Durant and Westbrook both spoke very highly of him when we talked) will offer something tempered in the ways of NBA lead guard wisdom, but we all have to wait and see.

The thought just hit me as I’m writing this to back off an earlier stance to trade Westbrook for Chris Paul. Russell is 22 and already one of the best players in the league. He wasn’t a point guard at UCLA. Maybe OKC should move him to two guard and allow Eric Maynor to run the show. James Harden has multiple skills and can spell any of the three positions (lead, two, small forward) offensively. The problem may be that Harden is gifted and ready to shed his bench role for starter minutes and also that Maynor might not be physical enough to defend his position consistently. OKC has a quandary but the Thunder will be fine. They’ll figure it out.

These playoffs have been great and I hope we are in store for something historic. The conference finals were unique in that both of these match ups were first round series of the past. You didn’t see a bunch of 22 year old stars dominating conference finals. This should be seen as a feather in the NBA’s cap and I’m sure David Stern agrees, but was Boston vs. Miami the true Final? I guess we’ll soon see.

Oklahoma City
Player Pos Min FGM-FGA FTM-FTA 3PM-3PA +/- OR Reb A Blk Stl TO PF Pts
K. Durant F 42:48 8-20 4-6 3-5 -7 1 9 2 1 2 3 4 23
S. Ibaka F 13:53 1-6 0-0 0-0 -2 1 3 0 1 0 0 4 2
K. Perkins C 27:54 0-2 0-0 0-0 +1 2 8 1 1 0 2 2 0
R. Westbrook G 44:15 11-28 9-9 0-3 -9 4 8 5 1 2 3 2 31
T. Sefolosha G 14:04 0-0 0-0 0-0 -7 0 2 0 1 0 0 2 0
N. Collison 37:35 6-9 0-0 0-0 +3 6 12 1 2 2 1 5 12
J. Harden 34:21 7-11 8-10 1-5 +3 1 5 6 0 1 2 1 23
E. Maynor 20:55 2-6 0-0 1-3 -7 0 1 1 0 0 2 4 5
D. Cook 4:15 0-0 0-0 0-0 +5 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Totals 240 35-82
15 49 16 7 7 13 24 96
Player Pos Min FGM-FGA FTM-FTA 3PM-3PA +/- OR Reb A Blk Stl TO PF Pts
S. Marion F 39:36 10-17 6-7 0-1 +10 3 8 3 3 1 2 1 26
D. Nowitzki F 39:39 8-15 9-9 1-2 +8 2 9 0 0 2 5 1 26
T. Chandler C 24:20 3-7 3-3 0-0 +8 3 9 0 2 0 2 6 9
J. Kidd G 33:56 1-7 0-0 0-3 +11 4 7 10 0 1 1 0 2
D. Stevenson G 24:46 0-7 1-2 0-5 -1 0 2 0 0 1 0 1 1
J. Terry 30:44 3-9 4-5 2-3 +4 0 1 0 0 1 2 4 12
J. Barea 22:24 5-11 3-4 1-2 -8 1 4 5 0 1 0 0 14
B. Haywood 15:30 1-1 5-6 0-0 -5 1 3 0 0 0 0 4 7
P. Stojakovic 9:06 1-4 0-0 1-4 -7 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 3
R. Beaubois DNP — INACTIVE
Totals 240 32-78
14 44 19 5 8 12 17 100


Officials: Monty McCutchen, Jason Phillips, Derrick Stafford
Attendance: 21,092
Time of Game: 2:40
Oklahoma City
– Team (7:16 – 1st Qtr)
– R. Westbrook (4:38 – 3rd Qtr)

16 Responses to “The Mavs Send The Thunder To Summer School 100-96 and Move On To The Finals: Some Thoughts On Dirk, Durant and Westbrook (Mainly Dirk)”

  1. GrandNubian says:

    Great piece mizz….

    I’ve loved Dirk as a player eversince he entered the league. I call him “Dirk McGirk” (lol). I was in awe (and still am) that a 7-footer can have his shooting ability and range. The knock on him (as with most European players) is that he is/was “soft”. However, I think Avery Johnson helped subside some of the ‘soft’ label that was applied to Dirk and, as a result, he became an even better player.

    He’s having one of the great playoff runs i’ve seen in a while. But i’m not about to put him in the same class as Larry Bird (for the reasons Mizz listed above). Nope, i’m not even gonna go there and people who actually know basketball shouldn’t either. I think Dirk has helped re-defined the PF position, by primarily being a “finesse” player, but he does get physical in the trenches from time-to-time. I think the addition of Tyson Chandler has really helped this physical adaptation on defense. His game is becoming more complete, as he’s passing the ball better and finding open teammates when he’s doubled.

    I think that he can be one of the 50 greatest, but he’s going to have to win at least 2 rings to make his case.

  2. Temple3 says:

    When you don’t get past the 2nd round in 8 of 11 seasons in your career and you have yet to win it all, you’re just not gonna much respect for being THAT DUDE.

    Throw in 4 first round exits and an EPIC FAIL against the Golden State Warriors and you see why we’re having the conversation we’re having.

    People need to pump their brakes on Dirk and stop smokin’ that shit.

  3. GrandNubian says:


    Tell us how you really feel, bruh. 🙂

  4. Temple3 says:

    I’m just getting started.

    When you go back over the history of the league and want to begin a conversation about GREAT PLAYERS, we have to consider the POLITICS of the league and the POLITICS of the media.

    Where does Adrian Dantley fit into this mix of great players? He played on a franchise that was not committed to winning. The Utah Jazz of the late 1980’s didn’t have a billionaire owner who was willing to plunk down cash or to piss off the league or do much of anything else. Still, Dantley went there as a 23-year who had been traded several times and rocked the house. He was a power player at 6’5″ — he scored 30 ppg for 4 seasons (1 with injuries), he is a career 54% FG and 82% FT shooter. No love — ever. He is ALWAYS excluded from conversations about great players. And he STILL has a higher career scoring average than Dirk.

    I’m not saying AD is better because that’s not the point. The point is that he’s excluded from the conversation. And Dominique and George Gervin are even higher up on the scoring list than AD.

  5. GrandNubian says:

    Great points…..

    Also, I’d add Alex English to that ‘exclusion’ list, eventhough he scored over 25,000 pts in his career and had 10 straight seasons averaging over 21 per and 8 straight of averaging over 25 per outing. He’s also a career 50% shooter.

    Like you said….it has to be politics involved which excludes these guys.

  6. Mizzo says:

    That’s a great point about Dantley. He gave me his number recently. I should hit him up for an interview huh? The Politics of the game is what frustrates me the most. We know how this series will be painted, so I won’t be surprised in the least when I see the ridiculous stuff folks will repeat re: Dirk.

    I didn’t write as much as I wanted to here because I wanted to save it all for the preview that I’ll work on over the weekend. I think Dallas is gonna get worked. I can’t see how Dirk is gonna get off vs. cats who are looking past a mere championship. They are looking to the pantheon. It’s like when I coached baseball. I would tell the kids to look past the fences because if they didn’t their skill scope will always be limited. Some of these kids exploded and began to hit bombs on the regular. Nothing made me more proud.

    The funny thing is, hypothetically of course, if you put LeBron and Dirk on the fence before a game of pickup there would be idiots who picked Dirk without hesitation.

  7. Temple3 says:

    Dirk would be forced to shoot 45 ft jumpers in a pick up game vs. LeBron. He might make a few, but after LeBron cracked his ribs, he’d be done.

  8. Temple3 says:

    Do people realize there are NO REFS in a pick up game?

  9. Mizzo says:

    They don’t care for their hatred of LeBron distorts their judgement to static…

  10. TheLastPoet says:

    Dirk is Woody Harrelson as “Billy Hoyle” in the movie “White Men Can’t Jump.” His game, his personality, his fondness for women of color, everything.

    And Jason Terry is Wesley Snipes as “Sidney Dean!”

    So that’s all I have to say about Dirk. Really. The 7 foot jump shooter.

  11. Julius says:

    Since when is a light-skinned Puerto Rican woman a “woman of color”? Lol. What’s with all this blubbering about poor old Alex English, Adrian Dantley, blah blah blah? The reason why those guys aren’t “part of the conversation” is that they didn’t win jack shit in the NBA! Simple as that. The reason why Nowitzki is “part of the conversation” is because he’s a current player. As in he plays in the here and now. How long has Gervin been retired? Over 20 years? If Dirk fails to win it all then he won’t be part of many conversations of NBA greatness within 10-15 years either. Enough with your racial conspiracy nonsense.

  12. Mizzo says:

    For me to give Dirk respect he has to do it when it counts. Until then, what you said Poet.

  13. Temple3 says:

    Y’all are funny. I actually like what Dirk is able to do on the court. I can’t say I like his game because I’d prefer he did other things, given his size — but I like what he CAN do.

    Gervin got his props during his day. I’m not sure that Dantley did — for a number of reasons. Alex English played in Denver before rapacious 24-hour media.

    Dirk has a place, but defining that place will take SOME thought if they lose and perhaps even more if they win.

    One narrative that may emerge next week is how Dirk is the only Maverick who can get his own shot…and how Dallas is going to have trouble scoring against Miami. If that’s the case, he’ll deserve a lot of credit for the W. Do people really expect Barea and Terry and Kidd and Marion to score against Miami?

  14. […] forward: Dirk Nowitzki has played out of his mind. He’s put up one of the great playoff games in recent memory (Durant did come close in the […]

  15. […] rebounds (16-6). The Heat held Dirk (Bill Rhoden speaks something similar to what I spoke of after Dallas clinched the WCF) to 7-18 shooting and Jason Terry to 3-10 from the field as well. Shawn Marion continued his nice […]