Saturday, March 10, 2007

Mavs can't get no respect

Eric Neel recently had an article on called Mavs just can't win my love. He begins by confessing that the '07 Mavericks are a historically great team. But then he goes on to explain why they are not as compelling as the 1996 Bulls, the 1986 Celtics, the 1983 Sixers or the 1972 Lakers. He even argues they are not as inspiring as this year's Suns and Pistons.

Clearly, Mr. Neel is insane.

And he's driving me insane, too. For years, the Mavericks have not gotten national respect because they were soft and didn't play defense. Now Neel finds them efficiently boring? Please, people, you can't have it both ways.

He says part of the problem is Mark Cuban. I freely admit that Cuban can at times be obnoxious, but there is not a fan alive who doesn't wish he would buy their team--ask Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Penguins fans. Prior to the 1999-2000 season, I heard on the radio that Mavs games would be on a home shopping channel. Turns out the channel was changing it's format, but the point is that the Mavs were so bad, no one was particularly surprised that a home shopping channel was the best TV deal they could get. Three months later Cuban stepped in and turned the Mavericks into one of the most consistently dominant teams in the league. Cuban might be occasionally grating, but he takes care of the players, he takes care of the fans and he wins. Good enough for me.

Neel goes on to say that Nowitzki is boring. A seven footer who is good for 25 ppg and 10 rpg on .500 shooting from the field, .425 from behind the arc and .900 from the line is boring? Really? Neel condescendingly labels Dirk at 'proficient'; how are things going for the 'fierce' Garnett?

He also shows a lack of enthusiasm for the rest of the team, who he collectively labels as role players. As if it is commonplace to have an entire team buy into a system. Several players capable of starting willingly come off the bench and/or accept fewer minutes for the good of the team without complaint. Stack has brought an attitude, Harris and Buckner bring defense and George has the championship experience. Because of these contributions, the team can no longer be considered soft. Perhaps most importantly, no one from this team will turn up with a mugshot. Or maybe that's what makes them boring to Neel?

This team has been carefully designed to be versatile, a trait Neel shows disdain for. These 'boring' players possess a skill set that allows the Mavs to play up tempo or slow it down, whichever is required. They can play big or small, and they are effective with either style. No one else in the league has the options available to Dallas. This lack of dependence on one style of play is a bad thing? Funny, I thought it was brilliant.

He does admit at the end of his article that maybe he is just being selfish when he says wins are not enough. Personally, I think it's jealousy. Jealous of the owner, jealous of the superstar, jealous of the role players and jealous of the system. That's OK. In a couple months, I think he'll have the opportunity to be jealous of their rings.


PJ said...

The Musers were discussing this article this morning. They came up with largely the same points you did (so kudos there...) and I agree completely. If not for last year's absense of a completed final (I refuse to admit it happened), we could be looking at defending champs, and he makes it seem like the team is going no where. A team that won 52 of the last 57. IT's just ridiculous.

Chris said...

Neel readily admits the Mavs are great, but he argues they aren't compelling--he just isn't interested in them. That's where I have a problem. I think this team is a fan's dream: they are great, but they are also focused, humble, self-sacrificing, etc...