My love for Mavericks
It was the autumn of 2000, bang in the middle of my first love affair, in the second year of college, in the midst of hardcore quizzing and various other adrenaline-pumping events. I started playing Fantasy NBA.
NBA was being dominated by Lakers and Spurs. At times, a few other teams like Portland, Sacramento, Philadelphia and Indiana made some moves. However, all the excitement really happened in the Western Playoffs.
This is where Dallas Mavericks came in and brightened up my life with an uptempo, almost European style of playing. Don Nelson, the coach who believed in combining a flair for attack (similar to Brazilian football) with the smooth European game. There was no one-on-one prima-donna-is-playing-please-step-aside-plays in Dallas's playbook. Nor was there any defense. You score 110, I will score 113 was the motto. It made for fascinating viewing, none more so than in the first round playoffs when the Mavs beat Jazz after trailing 0-2 after two rounds. Then, they promptly lost the next round to Spurs.
For the next three years, Nash, Finley and Nowitzki were my favourite tag-team in the world. They would take on all comers, have fantastic regular seasons and then go on to lose to either Sacramento or San Antonio in the playoffs. Even with the dream team in 2004, they lost in stunning manner in the first round. The heartbreak's added the tinge of tragedy great dramas need.
Then, in 2004, they lost Steve Nash. In 2005, they lost Michael Finley. Nowitzki was left to carry the flame.
Yes, he has Jason Terry, Stackhouse and and Josh Howard, but ultimately, Dallas is Nowitzki's team. Nowitzki in the meantime has added tons of steel around his game and become Toni Kukoc meets Karl Malone meets Hakeem Olajuwon. Nothing shows this more than the match today morning. Steve Kerr writes..
...Considering Dallas had played the perfect game to that point and had by all rights outplayed the Spurs for most of the game, it appeared the Mavericks were in for one of the all-time crushing defeats. In the huddle, Gregg Popovich told his team not to give up a three and not to foul. Nowitzki then took the ball and made the play of the game. Not settling for a jumper, he attacked Bruce Bowen off the dribble and went right to the rim. Nowitzki made the tough layup, drew the foul and made the free throw to tie the game....
Now, I will celebrate. I will also look forward to a Heat-Mavericks final. Unfortunately, then I won't be able to pick sides. That's okay.