Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A radical thought

First of all, I feel compelled to say that this is not a kneejerk article. I have thought about this, I believe, clearly and rationally.

Dirk Nowitzki's got to go.

I love the Big German. He's a great player who is likely about to win a MVP award. The problem is, that award is for the regular season. No one would ever consider giving Dirk a playoff MVP award, even before this year.

Dirk's problem is that he lacks heart, or whatever you want to call it. A killer instinct, intestinal fortitude, whatever. He just doesn't have it, and I think he knows it. He was described in this article as being 'sapped', 'listless' and 'flustered' and quoted as saying, 'I've got to take what they give me, and they don't really give me a lot.' There is no question that Don Nelson knows Dirk's game, and therefore how to limit Dirk's game, better than anyone. But that's not good enough from an MVP candidate. I need some fire.

And so does Avery Johnson. In the same article, he responds to Dirk's comments, saying that if he doesn't see something better for the Game 5 shootaround, he's going to be 'highly upset'. He demands confidence from his best player: If he's not confident, it is that much harder for everyone else.

The Mavericks have slowly grown since the 1999-2000 season, getting a little better each year, the only hiccup being the Antawn/Antoine season experiment. After last year's Finals appearance, the next step was a championship. To win 67 games, only to (presumably) lose in the first round is inexcusable.

Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks should be dictating the tone and pace, not taking what the Warriors give them. If Dirk hasn't learned how to do that yet, he never will. He's a great player, but he is not a leader and he can't dominate.

If the goal is to win a championship, then Dirk should be moved. I am now convinced that he will never win a championship. I don't know where he could go or what they could get for him, but this is not going to work. And I'm not saying they automatically win the title next year if they actually do trade him. This team needs to be rebuilt as a tougher model.

As a Maverick fan, this is tough for me to say because Dirk is such a likable player, as are the rest of the Mavs. They are an easy team to root for—no thug life activity. But this team is flawed because they are too nice and too soft, and it starts with Dirk, the best player.

I don't expect a trade to actually happen, and would be sad if it somehow did, but the prize is a championship. Unless he finally puts the team on his back and digs them out of this 1-3 hole right now, I'm convinced it will never happen in Dallas with Dirk.


rus said...

I am right there with you. My thought during this series is that you have to sit him down. If he's not going to be a player on offense then and he's terrible on defense, so he's a detriment to the team. He refuses to go to the basket and when he does shoot, the shots look terrible.
I thought that after the San Antonio and Phoenix series last year, he had turned a corner. But I guess he just turned another one, back to 1999.
I heard Bob Sturm talk about this on the Ticket yesterday, but here in a couple of days, Dirk is probably going to be named MVP. During the regular season, he was the best player in the league. But if that happens, it will so embarrasing after he has just puked it up during this series. Would Minnesota trade KG for Dirk? Would KG let Golden State dictate his game? I doubt it. How about this? Let's say the Celtics get the #1 pick in the draft. Would they trade it and a chance for Kevin Durant for Dirk? Chris, would you make that trade? I would have to think long and hard about it.

PJ said...

You know, I can't say I disagree with your reasoning. He seems to shrink from the big moment. A little like A-Rod in that extent. I guess I just expect a little more from my seven-footer. He has been matched up against much smaller players in the series, and still can't go low-pot on any of them. He just seems to lack that part of his game. On a different note, I won't be watching the game tonight because every game I've watched, they've lost. So, I look forward to not-watching three more games this series. Hopefully someone will step up. This team should be able to beat the Warriors without Nowitski. You think Johnson would bench him just to proove the point?

Knotwurth Mentioning said...

I don't know enough about the sport to know which players you are referring to, but man do I know the feeling. It was the case with Todd Bertuzzi last year with the Vancouver Canucks, and it happens with other players for other teams regularly. It's one of the big mysteries of the hockey universe -- why such-and-such player who dominates in the season just can't cut it in the playoffs. And almost always, it comes down to spirit, and toughness, and endurance.

It's never easy to see them go. And even harder is seeing the game the team plays changing... The Canucks went from one of the best offensive teams in the league to uber defensive. It's hard to watch. The only consolation? That there may be a championship around the corner some day. The team will change completely, potentially, but hopefully there's light at the end of the tunnel! Otherwise, it's a long road back to respectability!

Chris said...

Rus, I would do that deal in a heartbeat and draft Oden, who will win multiple NBA championships. Boston wouldn't make that deal.
As for KG, I think he just a soft as Dirk. He is with a poor club, but someone with his talent should at least make the playoffs with you, me and two scrubs from the Y as starters. He is every bit as passive as Dirk.

Chris said...

OK, maybe this article was a little kneejerk. I'm listening to the Ticket Mavs postgame radio show and I believe again. Hey, the pressure is on Golden State to close the deal in Game 6, so the Mavs can take that one. And they would be favored to win Game 7 at home. No worries, right?

But, I would still swap Dirk for the number one pick in the draft. Oden is going to be a star. Heck, I'd swap Dirk for the number two pick. You think Durant won't be at least as good as Dirk, plus he's younger?