Monday, May 18, 2009

Keep Basketball Classy

Written by Danny Hobrock

The Western Conference Finals are upon us and what makes this matchup so sweet? The Denver Nuggets? The Los Angeles Lakers? Chauncey Billups leading his hometown team back to prosperity? Kobe Bryant making another run at a fourth title? No. Knowing the Dallas Mavericks are staying home? Oh, yes.

If the Mavericks soil their diapers every time the ball bounces the other way, why would anybody want to see them in basketball's greatest professional tournament? The Dallas Mavericks in their current form are bad for basketball. The ownership and the players…well, some of the players.

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I think they proved it beginning in the 2006 NBA Finals when we witnessed the total, cataclysmic meltdown of the team. Most notable was the image of Dirk Nowitzki kicking exercise bikes and Mark Cuban being the arrogant, bad-for-basketball owner that we are all so sick of. We couldn’t help but think of these embarrassing episodes following Game 3 of this year's Western Conference Semi-Finals after the Nuggets defeated the Mavericks in the wake of a controversial no-call.

Spilling onto the court after the final buzzer, the Dallas Mavericks showed exactly why fans should be thrilled to see them sent home by the Nuggets. Mark Cuban was full throttle. Shoving a camera man out of his way, Cuban further exposed himself as the delusional, disgusting man-child that he is. Oh, and in a fit of frustration that a teenage girl could have controlled better, he told Kenyon Martin's mother that her son is a punk/thug and then blogged his apology. Stay classy, Mark.

Nowitzki has failed to be the leader he needs to be on that team. The team is leaderless in the face of adversity. When Nowitzki's Mavs had a 2-0 lead on Dywane Wade's Heat in 2006, what did Wade do with his team behind in Game 3? He told himself, "Not like this." And his team won. What did Nowitzki do as Miami jumped out to a series lead? He was overwhelmed and succumbed to his emotions. And his team lost.

When things get edgy and the ball bounces the wrong way nobody steps up to keep the team in the game. The Mavs are unable to accept defeat as an opportunity to make the necessary changes and perfect their game. Like all perpetual losers they blame others, not themselves, for their failures.

Who's playing?

I'm excited to see the Denver Nuggets take on the Los Angeles Lakers. It's the playoffs so things may get a little chippy- they always do when you have two passionate teams fighting for a spot in the Finals. We've seen both teams lose their cool for a moment or two, but I will be dreadfully surprised if either team walks off the court with as little class as the Dallas Mavericks in the '06 Finals or in Game 3 of the Denver series.

You'd be hard pressed to find anybody with a justified reason to call the Cavilers' LeBron James a black mark on the game. Kobe Bryant was once seen as a ball hogging, cocky kid, whose skill was always overshadowed by his blatant attempts to prove his place among basketball's elite with his mouth, not his game. He has lately let his game speak for itself. Not surprisingly, but maybe surprisingly for old Kobe, his place as one of the game's best has not been tainted.

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Carmelo Anthony has a bit of a rough reputation (marijuana, DUI, punching Mardy Collins in the face), but he's had the positive influence of Billups for most of the season and I seriously doubt he punches anybody during the Conference Finals or NBA Finals. I'm not so sure that the Mavericks could've stopped themselves from throwing another collective hissy fit.

There is something terribly wrong with the Dallas Mavericks organization and something needs to be done by the front office to change the atmosphere. But alas, no plan is flawless. The flaw here? The front office's number one is Mark Cuban. And he won't change.

The Pick: Denver over L.A. in 6 Six Games

Written by Danny Hobrock

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