Thursday, June 22, 2006

While I am two days late to the party, I really meant to post this after Miami won. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance because I had to get up early in the morning to TCB (not that I own any TCB memorabilia, but Elvis' motto should be good enough for anyone). Then I started watching Firewall last night, and just didn't feel like posting last night. But it's official now, the Heat are the champions of the NBA.

Antoine Walker has a championship ring, and Danny Ainge is locked up in a secure location planning to draft the player that will cost the most money, take the longest to develop and compete for playing time at the 2 or the 3, like 9 other players on the current roster. There is always the possibility that Kevin Pittsnogle could be available. What a compliment he'd make to Raef LaFrentz (he's far too awful to get a link from this site). They'd have the tallest, softest front line that the NBA has seen in many a year. Read the profile in the link above and see if this is a fair synopsis: "He'd be a pretty good pro player, if he didn't suck." BTW, that site with his profile has Pittsnogle going to Charlotte at #50. Ainge won't let that happen.

Something occurred that was slightly more important than Antoine earning a measure of redemption (yes, his shooting percentage was everything the CHB et al. could have hoped for, but he played defense very well and he did pull 11 boards in game 6). The hexagonal conspiracy against Mark Cuban claimed another victory, although it was by the slimmest of margins. Mark Cuban served notice that he was through taking crap from David Stern's minions by staring the commissioner down after Game 5. Stern, however, seems not to have received the memo that Mark Cuban was not a man to be trifled with lightly. Game 6 went off according to plan, Miami won. Dallas lost. Wait till next year? Justice delayed is justice denied.

Every thinking person in America knows that Dallas should have won the series. Not only that, but they should have accomplished that feat in five games. No less a light than Ric Bucher said so on Sportscenter at the start of the series. Alas, he didn't say it in print on the ESPN site, so you have to take my word for it. And we all know that Ric is never wrong. Just ask him, and he'll tell you so.

For his part Mark Cuban denied that he stared the commissioner down, and denied that he ever said the series against Miami was rigged. You really have to read the blog to get a sense of the level of oppression endured by the Benefactor on the course of a given day. Tears sprang to my eyes when I read his impassioned plea to the editors/publishers/fact checkers at the Miami Herald to take the time to find out whether or not he owned a boat. It is a pleasant surprise to see Mark Cuban react to the events of these playoffs with everything but magnanimity. It makes it so much easier to criticize him.

blogMaverick is a treasure-trove for someone like me, who cannot stand its author. Aside from the fact that he's whiny and has a morbid aversion to the apostrophe, there is so much to criticize. This particularly entry, on the merits of cursing, Cuban comes off like a 12 year old talking trash to an authority figure to make his friends think he's hard. The Benefactor says he has no patience with people who waste his time. I wonder what else he had to do other than answer a simple question. A reporter asked him if the loss in question was the worst loss ever. Not the most intelligent of queries, I concede, but it was a chance for Cuban to drop an F bomb.

The Benefactor announced that he was commencing a crusade against corporate crime on HDNet in a recent post. It was unclear from his language whether his sale of to Yahoo! will be among the topics covered. According to his bio on, is the "leading provider of multimedia and streaming on the Internet." Wikipedia does not present such a rosy picture. Here is an interesting case study of the build-up to the Yahoo! acquisition of This guy seems to share my opinion of Cuban's business acumen, although it would be nice if he knew Jerry Jones owned the Cowboys and not Jerry Johnson.

The level of discourse present in the comments section of blogMaverick is pathetic. So pathetic in fact the author has discontinued them. But if you look on some of the older entries I linked up above. It seems that there is an infinite number of Dallas/Cuban fans willing to massage his ego and drink his Kool Aid. But based on the fact that they've met their demise, I must not have been the only person that had a problem with them. Perhaps Mark Cuban has at long last learned that the postings of a legion of sycophants in Dallas aren't enough to get a billionaire into a trendy New York City night club.

While I don't much care for the journalistic integrity of the New York Post, every now and then there's a gem like this in there. Read it to unearth tidbits like Mark Cuban seemingly making reference to his endowment (or lack thereof). Gossip must be taken with a grain of salt, and hearsay and conjecture aren't admissible in a court of law. Of course, this blog isn't a court of law. To me, the story has the ring of truth because I won't give the Benefactor the benefit of the doubt and because nothing can make Mark Cuban look more ridiculous than his own actions. All the money in the world, but not much in the way of class.
Mark Cuban was quick to declare that Bill Simmons is his new hero (based on the way his superstars played in crunch time against the Heat, he needed one) . Of course supporting almost everything Mark Cuban says is the surest path to wisdom. The Sports Guy's claim to that pinnacle rests on this plaintive lament about the future of the NBA. Of course, his statement that a Dallas victory might be better for the NBA because Miami riding Wade's success would inspire imperfect imitators (Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Gilbert Arenas, et al.).

These would-be Wades will drive into the teeth of the defense time and time again at crunch time with their teammates watching them in Simmons' nightmare scenario. Dallas, in his view, is a much better role model because their offense is more diverse than that. So many players can shoot and score they never become a one man team. Of course, one could easily posit the argument that no one on the Mavs is man enough to take over a game when it really matters which is why their offense didn't stagnate at the end of the game vs. Miami. It disappeared entirely.

Yet one more reason to go after Mark Cuban is that he inspired Bob Ryan to write this column, which very nearly made me regret inducting him into the Max Mercy Hall of Fame. This particular tidbit just might be the second best evaluation of the Benefactor's behavior:

Each time a call is made against the Mavericks, [Cuban] stared intently at the big screen to see the replay. Invariably, he reacted to what he had seen by a) making a face, b) shaking his head vigorously, c) making a face while shaking his head vigorously, or d) spinning wildly while making a face and shaking his head vigorously.

I don't think that captured the ridiculously childish behavior of the Mavs owner as well as the quote I used from "As I Please 6," where George Orwell described someone as "looking more like a monkey on a stick than you would think possible for anyone who is not doing it on purpose." That is Mark Cuban in a nutshell.

I think by now I've spent enough time on the Benefactor, so I will move on to the series in general after a parting shot. This link will take you to an article by Jason Whitlock where he argues that the NBA ought to suspend Mark Cuban for a period of time to get him to tone down his criticism of officials. I think the writer overstates his case, but the parallel between Artest and Cuban is not entirely unreasonable. I think (perhaps hope might be a better word) that an owner cannot incite a riot. But the idea of banning the Benefactor from the arenas until he can behave like an adult is intriguing. Also, since I pride myself on giving the devil his due, I must applaud Cuban for his charity work on behalf of families who have lost loved ones in the ongoing unpleasantness overseas.

I noticed that the Maverick PA system played the Eye of the Tiger down the stretch in a timeout. Would that it had worked out to inspire the team. While Dwyane Wade came up big, the Dallas stars came up small (no pun was intended on the performance of the Dallas Stars hockey team who also came up small this postseason). I saw a woman in the crowd wearing a Nowitzness shirt. I hope the round-trip tickets to St. Louis, KC, San Antonio or Houston (courtesy of the Benefactor and American Airlines from Fan Appreciation Night) are enough to console the fans of the Mavs who found themselves Nowitzless in the 4th quarter.

I will not jump on the Wade bandwagon. He is a great player who was unbelievably clutch in this series, but I am not a bandwagon jumper. Never have been, never will be. I will dwell some more on the Mavs. Dirk did have 29 points in Game 6, but he went 0 for from the field in the 4th quarter and only had 2 points. He helped cause a turn over late in the 4th when he threw a relatively difficult pass to Erik "Hands of Stone" Dampier rather than take a shot himself. And when the Mavs were down 3, it was Jason Terry who took the last shot, not Dirk.

I understand that Miami took great pains to keep the ball out of Dirk's hands as much as possible. That said, great players are expected to find a way to lead their teammates to the promised land. Look at the lyric sheet for Springsteen's Promised Land, and tell me whether Dirk qualifies as a boy or a man. Miami got big contributions from role players. Haslem shot very well, Antoine got some big rebounds. Without Marquis Daniels, who knows if Dallas could have kept it close.

In the immortal words of Jim Morrison: "when the music's over, turn out the light." As the lights go out on the Mavericks, they and their can take consolation from the fact that it took all the Commish's horses and all the Commish's men to get Miami the title. That should tide them over, provided that they don't dwell on the infinite improbability that they are the only victims of human error in officiating.

No comments: