Posted on: December 2, 2011 11:18 am
By Matt Moore
As much as everyone outside of the state of Florida may have wanted to enjoy watching the Heat as the Mavericks get their championship rings, it's not to be. Those interested in schadenfreude will have to settle for the Miami 3 watching the Mavericks' first championship banner be raised.
WFAA in Dallas reports that Mark Cuban has informed them the Christmas Day season opener against the Heat will not be ring ceremony night for the Mavericks. It's customary for the first home game of the season to be ring ceremony night, but Cuban says that due to so many people likely having made other plans for Christmas in light of the ongoing lockout, he didn't want to leave them out.
However, the banner will be raised to the rafters so fans can celebrate their championship team on their home floor for the first time. The Heat of course lost to the Mavericks in six games in last season's Finals.
The story should be about the Mavericks, but it will, as always, be about the Heat. How will they react watching the banner they were two wins away from obtaining be raised in front of them? Does it spell an omen or serve as motivation? Will it affect how they approach their first game of the season? A loss would leave the Heat 0-2 in season openers under the new Triad after last year's loss to the Celtics in Boston.
Either way, it's going to be a fairly brutal process for the Heat to sit and watch the title they nearly won be celebrated on their opponents' home floor. Great drama, just the thing to kick off the season with to start moving past the lockout.
Posted on: November 5, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 4:05 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Saturday's NBA showcase event would have been a rematch of the Western Conference Finals: the defending champion Dallas Mavericks to a potential budding dynasty in the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The major storylines that dominated an exciting but brief 5-game series back in May would remain. Could Kevin Durant shake free of Dallas' team defense and get back to his super-efficient scoring ways? Could Russell Westbrook keep things together down the stretch so as to maximize his supreme physical advantages? Could anyone concoct a strategy that would effectively slown down Dirk Nowitzki?
The big questions have to do with how many defections Big D would be dealing with? Would center Tyson Chandler, one of the most coveted free agents on this year's market, cash in to play elsewhere or would owner Mark Cuban pay up to keep him. Ditto for teeny-tiny J.J. Barea and trash-talker in chief DeShawn Stevenson. Then, there's Caron Bulter, who missed the entire playoff chase due to a knee injury, and would play a major role in shrinking the talent gap on the perimeter against the Thunder. Retaining him will also likely cost a pretty penny.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, got most of its work done prior to free agency. Every key member of their rotation would be returning, no questions asked, and the star players fit well enough together that return trips to the Western Conference Finals seem almost inevitable. If Oklahoma City is the future, this game would boil down to serving as a first look at whether Dallas is still the present, or if their reign atop the West is already in the past.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 8:05 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 8:13 pm
By Matt Moore
The Mavericks and Spurs have had some titanic battles through the course of the past decade-plus during this time of contention for both teams. For the first time, we would be seeing the Mavericks as the defending champs, as the team that figured things out, while the Spurs are the team that couldn't put it together, who fell apart at the wrong time.
These battles are precious. We're only going to see Dirk Nowitzki go at Tim Duncan so many more times as both head towards retirement. Already Duncan is not the player he used to be, as Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker take more of a role. But it's still Duncan vs. Dirk, Parker vs. Jet, Manu vs. well, whoever the Mavs put on him. The Mavericks now have the bruisers inside, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood, while it's the Spurs with the defensive sieves in DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner.
This game would still be a huge clash of juggernauts, though, especially with the shooters on each side. Both teams had titanic offenses last week, while it was only the Spurs who ran into the iceberg against Memphis.
Jason Kidd against Tony Parker is a smarter matchup than it seems, while Kawhi Leonard would be facing Caron Butler in a past-face-present. It would have all the rivalry that Texas teams demand, and the drama of a battle between two teams with five championships and six Finals appearances over the past twelve seasons.
And we get none of it.
Today is Day 127 of the NBA Lockout.
Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:26 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
You wouldn't think a self-evident catch-phrase like Nike's "Basketball Never Stops" would require further explanation, but that didn't stop the shoe giant from releasing a companion piece to its recent ad starring LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Amar'e Stoudemire.
In the companion video, James, Durant, Nowitzki and others explain what the phrase "Basketball Never Stops" -- an obvious nod to the ongoing NBA lockout -- means to them.
"No matter where you're at, no matter what time of the day, you can always have a love for the game, and you can always play the game," James explains. "You could be playing inside your house with your loved ones or at a rec league with kids, or playing at a rec league with 40-and-over guys, it doesn't matter. The game of basketball never stops no matter what's going on in the world because people love the game that much."
"No matter if it's the offseason, vacation, holiday, always find a way to get in the gym and get better," Durant adds. "No matter if you're just working out by yourself or playing pickup the game never stops, no matter what you're doing. That's the type of approach I try to have."
Nowitzki chimes in: "I'm 33 years old now, and I'm still in the gym in the summer, working out, trying to get better, trying out certain moves."
And Stoudemire polishes it off. "You're always thinking about basketball," he says. "It's something that you sleep, you dream, when you're awake, you play, you think about it."
So, as it turns out, "Basketball Never Stops" pretty much means that basketball never stops. Now you know.
Here's the video courtesy of YouTube user NikeBasketball.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 5:05 pm
By Matt Moore
Tuesday night would have been a reckoning if there were a season. It would be about more than just a good season. It would be about the past and the future. About a decade of tireless effort, of painstaking consistency and a drive to get it right, and it would be about the years to come, and how bright and hopeful they are.
If there were an NBA season, we'd be watching Bulls-Mavericks Tuesday night.
The Dallas Mavericks suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous NBA fortune more than any team short of the Trail Blazers over the past ten years. They built a championship core, and instead of rebuilding or tearing it down when it didn't work, they kept tinkering, adjusting, taking what worked and trying to make it better. Mark Cuban sunk hundreds of millions into the team in payroll, staff, training, promotion, everything. It's a massively powerful organization, that still didn't have a ring to show for it. Tuesday night would have been the night that Dirk Nowitzki could take a step back and appreciate how far he'd come, how all the work and the trust and the blood, sweat, tears, and teeth in his arm were worth it. For Jason Kidd it would be a sweet way to usher in the sunset of his career. And the Mavericks, a tighnit group of professionals, could savor entering the season as the top dogs.
The Bulls would just be hungry. Hungry to spit that taste of embarassing defeat from their mouths, hungry to show they still have the best defense in the league, show they were not a flash in the pan, that they don't need massive overhauls. Derrick Rose would be ready to ask "Why not me, again?" for MVP.
It would be a terrific matchup.
Jason Kidd's experience, bruising defense against Rose's blistering speed, which would require long stints from Caron Butler in help defense, along with every other Maverick between Rose and the rim, especially Tyson Chandler. We'd see a chess match between two of the best tacticians in the league in Rick Carlisle and Tom Thibodeau, as Thibodeau would seek to body and help on Dirk at every turn and Carlisle would seek to continue to do what the Mavericks did last season, punish teams for helping by burying them from deep, and collecting offensive rebounds for extra possessions. Joakim Noah vs. Tyson Chandler is some sort of future-present meet past-present. J.J. Barea (assuming he re-signed, along with Chandler), would be going at it with C.J. Watson. And Carlos Boozer, at least for some limited possessions, would be left on an island with the Finals MVP.
Oh, the fun we would have had.
It would have been such a great way to follow up from the most exciting season in over ten years, to embrace a team made up of stars of the past ten years who are in no way done versus a team of stars for the next ten years (plus Carlos Boozer) who are just getting started. It would have been fierce. It would have been fun to argue about who should get the shots in crunch time, whether Rose looks healed mentally and physically, whether the Mavericks really can make a run at a repeat.
Instead, American Airlines Center will be silent and dark Tuesday night. It is day 124 of the NBA lockout.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:57 am
Posted by Ben Golliver.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are up to their old tricks again, giving up on negotiations on Friday and cancelling two more weeks of the regular season.
Those developments only help reinforce the recurring message coming from the sneaker industry. It's not a particularly complicated message or an especially confrontational one, at least not yet. It basically boils down to "Professional basketball players enjoy playing professional basketball, no matter what," and here's the latest ad pushing that theme.
The ad opens with the lights being turned off in an NBA stadium and then quickly transitions to a spotlight following Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, New York Knicks forward Dirk Nowitzki and other basketball players of all ages as they work on their games individually, play in late-night pick-up games, engage in pre-game celebrations, play three-on-three in the drive way, see which players made the cut list and play some pop-a-shot.
The symbolism isn't complicated: basketball and its players shine wherever the sport goes, even if the NBA is locked out and the stadiums are dark. The ad's tagline -- "Basketball Never Stops" -- has been used as a slogan throughout the lockout when James, Durant and others have played on the exhibition game circuit and it works in tandem with Jordan Brand's recent "Love The Game" spot which features Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony playing in pick-up and intramural games throughout the country.
Nike's ad winds up being a bit more serious than Jordan's, which had a few humorous touches, but it fits the athletes depicted and it's dealing with a serious and touchy subject. James is, theoretically, focused on a quest for redemption. Durant is a stone-faced killer whenever he takes the court. Nowitzki has a goofy side, but he takes preparation and execution as seriously as anybody. Stoudemire feels a bit like a toss-in, but he's getting old and taking on new burdens as one of the faces of the improved Knicks, so it's not a total stretch.
Video via YouTube user NikeBasketball
Posted on: October 24, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 10:31 am
By Matt Moore
There's a weird quirk with NBA 2K12. Dirk Nowitzki is exceptionally difficult to play with. Even Mavericks fans have a hard time getting the hang of him. Part of it is due to his insanely long shooting motion (it's not slow, it's just long), part of it is the way the game treats size and range. But the result is that getting the real hang of the Finals MVP is a trick. But the big guy himself has a pretty easy solution. Just shoot, baby. From Nowitzki's Twitter:
RT @TheRealTwiggg: @swish41 why are you so hard to play with in the video game 2k any tips?(Just press circle button to shoot from anywhere)via Twitter / @swish41: RT @TheRealTwiggg: @swish4 ....
Helpful, Dirk. Now if we can just figure out how to dribble with your seven-foot self. One tip? Drop the big guy into the post at the elbow, then go to the pump fake and fadeaway. You know. Like he is in real life. Even then, it takes some getting used to.
In other 2K12 news, 2K Sports announced last week a new game mode being introduced through online addition, based on the popularity of the legends mode they integrated, which allowed players to play classic games of great teams to unlock them. (Only took me twelve tries to unlock the Sixers. Sidney Moncrief is a monster in that game.) From a 2K Sports release:
Legends Showcase allows gamers to select from more than 150 of the NBA’s all-time greatest players, including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Dr. J, and compete in authentic pick-up games from 1-on-1 up to 5-on-5. Legends Showcase also features mini-games, such as 21 and H-O-R-S-E, along with other new features like the 2-on-2 Teammate Challenge and 3-on-3 Era Challenge. Gamers can also unlock current NBA players to create unique match-ups between legends and current stars. Finally, for the ultimate challenge, gamers can bring their My Player into the mix and battle the legends of the NBA to see how they stack up against the best ever.
Gotta say, pretty exciting to think about playing H-O-R-S-E with Larry Bird vs. Kevin Durant. Now we just need to be able to set up your own dunk contest with Dr. J, Jordan, and Vince Carter and we'll be set.
(Image via 2KSports on Facebook.)
Posted on: October 22, 2011 8:32 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 9:35 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
A minor controversy was avoided this week, when Major League Baseball decided to allow Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki to throw out the first pitch before Game 3 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.
Nowitzki, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, is at the height of his popularity after leading the Mavericks to a stunning triumph over the Miami Heat. He was nominated by the Rangers to throw out the first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, near Dallas, but that nomination was reportedly rejected before MLB later overturned their decision.
On Saturday evening, Nowitzki strode to the mound wearing a blue custom Rangers jersey bearing his name and jersey No. 41 and a blue Rangers hat. He stared in to get the sign, went into a full wind-up and leg-kick, and then bounced his pitch into home plate, before receiving congratulations from Rangers designated hitter Michael Young. A well-intentioned effort, to be sure, but his pitching mechanics simply can't compare to the form on his trademark fallaway jumper.
"I looked him off twice, spat, spat; I had to spit," Nowitzki explained, according to ESPNDallas.com.Prior to the game, Nowitzki wrote on Twitter: "Fired up for tonight. Already warmin up in my backyard. Radar gun gonna read mid 80s. Let's do this. Go Rangers." Fox broadcaster Joe Buck said Nowitzki's pitch was clocked at 67 miles per hour.
Entering Game 3, the World Series was tied at 1-game apiece.
Here's a frame-by-frame look at Nowitzki's pitching motion, in case you're interested. Images via Fox Sports.