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Dallas may have won last old-school title for while

Jun 13, 2011, 12:07 AM EDT

APTOPIX NBA Finals Mavericks Heat Basketball AP

Dallas won it all. They earned it. They get the banner and the rings (if they do rings) and the bragging rights. They earned them.

But everybody wants to be Miami.

Not the fans. Outside of South Florida the Heat the Heat are despised, treated with the same venom usually reserved for politicians who text pictures of their junk to people who are not their wives.

But around the league Miami is the model for the future — everybody wants a trio of superstars. Miami has theirs, but you see the Knicks trying to get their trio (at the cost of all their good role players), same with the Nets, same with a lot of teams trying to jump on that bandwagon. It’s why there is so much interest in what is going to happen with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard — if they opt out in 2012 are they going to team up with? Some may not like this trend (some owners hate the players having that kind of power) but it’s the way the league is moving.

Dallas was a throwback. They just won a ring the old school way. The last one we may see for a while.

They certainly have talent — you don’t win without it. They have one of the best in the game in Dirk Nowitzki. Jason Terry can score on anyone, Jason Kidd is a solid leader, Tyson Chandler the best defensive center in the game.

But this was not a “superstar+superstar+superstar=success” formula. They did it by putting together a team that fit well together. They did it by being well coached. They did it with balance. They took years to bring it all together right, to learn some hard lessons along the way. They did it as a team.

“Guys started to understand if we trusted the system, and executed, because all our guys knew how to play basketball good things would happen,” said Dallas owner Mark Cuban in a postgame interview on NBA TV. “No one was selfish — when the ball needed to move, the ball moved. When someone needed to hit an open shot, they hit an open shot.”

Everybody looked past the Mavericks when the playoffs started because they had a regular season that looked so much like their last ones — 11 years in a row with 50 wins, you just came to expect it and came to expect them to fold in the playoffs. But this Dallas team was tougher than past versions. And while Boston got old and the Lakers fell apart, Dallas kept playing better and better, believing in each other.

There is more than one way to build a great team, more than one way to win a title. Miami will get there. Miami learned that it needs to balance out the roster with better fitting role players. The players saw first hand the level of trust needed for them to take the next step.

But more and more teams are going to build their teams the Miami way. Doing it the way Dallas did it is a long, hard road.

And right now, Cuban would not trade the road he traveled to get there for anything.

  1. zblott - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    “Tyson Chandler the best defensive center in the game” —- uh, not 3-time DPOY Dwight Howard?

    • rjlink1 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:12 AM

      Seriously, let’s not get carried away. Remember “Pau Gasol is the best big man in the NBA” after last year’s playoffs?

  2. david8726 - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    Kurt, good article, but you’re wrong on one thing –

    NBA fans outside of miami *do* want to be us. They may hate us, but any NBA fans who tells you they wouldnt want to be heat fans for the next 4 years are liars.

    Dallas won the title and they deserved it. They were better than us.

    But, going forward, I think Heat fans will have more fun than any fans in the league over the next few years.

    • goforthanddie - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:48 AM

      Nobody hates Miami. We just hate the failure LeBitch. You may yet see some of those titles if Riley can find a sucker to dump that loser on.

      • david8726 - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:53 AM

        LeBron was bad this series, can’t doubt that. But he’s still the most talented player in the world.

        Dirk used to be haunted by demons from 2006 and 2007. People called him soft, a choker, and said he’d never lead a team to a title. Then he figured things out and won.

        LeBron is 26 years old. I’d say he has an excellent shot of figuring it out just like Dirk and winning us a title sometime over the next few years.

    • david0303 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:14 AM

      if you really think that nba fans outside of miami want to be you than the fans are just as stupid as the players. I want nothing to do with the player that named himself that king that hasnt won anything. I don’t get why everyone is asuming that Miami will have their time to win. If chicago can add another key piece or two i can see them being a more dominate team for the next 6-8 years because weve all seen that once lebron starts getting down he quits and gives him team no chance to win

    • almzor - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      Look at it this way, this year set the stage for one hell of a redemption for LeBron. His post game indicates he probably needs an off season to think about things, but it is only by failing that he will learn to succeed.

      Whether his ego will let him draw the right lessons from this year is another question entirely, but I honestly think he needed this. He needed to lose in a way that he couldn’t blame teammates, or management, or coaches. Having done that, he may finally buckle down and make hard work and dedication more than something he talks about in press conferences.

  3. royalsfaninfargo - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    does superstar+superstar+superstar=success when you (not you kurt, but teams) define success as championships? If the NBA keeps the cap, the role players on these “super” teams will have to take less money and in todays NBA i dont see that happening. Outside the of James, Wade, and Bosh Miami had Miller and Haslem. The rest of their bench were retreads and guys who quite honestly shouldnt be in the league anymore. I understand your point about how the league is headed this way, but someone will have to be very creative with the cap to put together a team like that.

    • rushbacker - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:31 AM

      Agree with the point about the cap. And even beyond that, I simply don’t agree with the premise of the article. At the end of the day, there’s only one ball to go around. One superstar can still be enough, if it’s a LEGIT superstar in his prime– not a guy that was a superstar years ago, like say KG for example. Dallas never had any question about the pecking order or who should take over down the stretch– it was Dirk, Terry, then anyone else, and it worked perfectly.

      Losing the finals doesn’t exactly make the Heat the new model. At best, they certainly won’t be until they actually WIN a championship. And unless they suddenly manufacture a much better bench with the exact type of budget restraints that hampered them this year, there’s surely no guarantee they’re even going to win a title, much less dominate the league. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to like their odds to get one pretty well. . . but at the same time, they still need to prove it. Potential never won anything. But if you do want to talk about potential, that young Oklahoma City team might be the one that’s poised to dominate the league– if Westbrook can get his head on straight, or if they decide to move him and get a more experienced PG that can run the team consistently in big games. And that’s obviously just one example– you could pick other teams. What if Chicago finds another scorer to take some pressure off Rose? He’s their one superstar, and they most definitely aren’t two more away.

      You still need decent, playable depth, no matter how good the front-line talent. You need it to deal with injuries and foul problems– you need some guys on the bench that can provide a spark on nights your stars aren’t getting it done. Let’s see the three-star model prove it’s superiority before proclaiming it directly after that model just lost.

      • trueballs - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:23 AM

        Good comment, man.

        But on a completely irrelevant note I have to come in defend Westbrook a bit. He did show some flaws this postseason, but Durant was somewhat responsible for that. Deshawn Stevenson, Marion, and JKidd all outmuscled him when guarding him….there were many times where he couldn’t even get in position to receive a pass

      • jjstrokes - Jun 13, 2011 at 7:56 AM

        Great input Rush

      • almzor - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM

        I think the Westbrook/Durant dynamic is extremely similar to the struggles LeBron/Wade/Bosh have playing off one another effectively. When you have that many people who are talented enough to be the top option on most teams, getting them to do the little things that don’t get noticed to win is hard.

        Things like setting good screens, or digging in for rebounding position, or making a good show and then rotating back to your man if you are involved in a pick and roll defensively are vital to good basketball. But they’re not the sort of things TV analysts glorify, and so it is hard to get star players to buy in and do them. Imagine what OKC would be like if they had Boston’s screen game running for Durant. That would involve a lot more effort and awareness from Durant, but it would also get the big men involved more in the play as well.

        I’m not sure I have a point here honestly. If I do it is this: Miami (and several other teams this postseason) had the talent pool to be champions. The talent was simply not utilized well. If the Mavs have shown anything it is that the whole needs to be greater than the sum of its parts. If Miami figures out how to do that, then they will be a truly magnificent thing to watch. However that involves a lot of work that isn’t “fun” and I don’t know if LeBron is down for that. Worse, I don’t know if there is a coach in the league that can get through to him and make him buy into the idea.

  4. passerby23 - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    First of all, Tyson Chandler is not even close to being the defensive centre that Dwight Howard is.

    Second of all, just because owners WANT to build 3-superstar rosters doesn’t mean it will translate to success. Remember Barkley, Pippen, and Olajuwon? How did that one work out? You need chemistry. You need the right role players. You need clutch players. You need to fit that all into the salary cap. Trends may change after seeing Dallas’ success. The Bulls are one piece away from being a championship contender without having a third superstar. The Thunder and Grizzlies are knocking on the door too without having 3 stars.

  5. dawkattack - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    SA Still Owns Texas 4 C’s And The Home Of The Original Big Three That Every One Wants To Copy

  6. nepatriots128154 - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:34 AM

    david8726 – Jun 13, 2011 at 12:20 AM

    Kurt, good article, but you’re wrong on one thing –

    NBA fans outside of miami *do* want to be us. They may hate us, but any NBA fans who tells you they wouldnt want to be heat fans for the next 4 years are liars.

    Dallas won the title and they deserved it. They were better than us.

    But, going forward, I think Heat fans will have more fun than any fans in the league over the next few years.’


    There is a reason everyone hates bandwagon Heat fans. Thanks for showing it

    • almzor - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      So you’re a Miami fan, a Pats fan, are you a Yankees fan too? Not everyone wants to be a front runner man.

      • almzor - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:14 PM

        Err wait I read that wrong, you were replying to someone. Sorry, I’ll learn to read someday I promise! =(

  7. zblott - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:49 AM

    David Stern and Mark Cuban made a great compromise while avoiding having to meet on stage:

  8. delius1967 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:05 AM

    You would think with Dallas showing the way this year, and multiple other teams for years before this, that teams who really want to win would avoid “superstar ball” like the plague.

    I mean, seriously, look at most of the recent NBA champions:
    – The Lakers may have two superstars in Bryant and Gasol, but that isn’t why they won — they won playing brilliant team ball, and being coached by an all time great.
    – San Antonio won four titles over the last dozen, playing nothing but excellent, boring team basketball, built around one of the most unassuming superstars ever to suit up, Tim Duncan.
    – Detroit won two titles without a bona fide superstar on their roster, ousting the last “mega-team”, the Lakers with Bryant, O’Neal, Payton, and Malone. The formula? Nothing but the team.
    – In fact, since the end of the Jordan years, the only championship that you could really call the result of superstar basketball was Miami’s 2006 win. And that was as much the referees as it was Wade.

    You may be right, that teams will try to go the “superstar” route more. But they would be foolish to do so. Even in a league that celebrates its individual stars more than any other — almost as much, in fact, as they seem to celebrate themselves — the formula for success has never been clearer: build a team with players who are willing to sacrifice themselves to make the team better.

    Miami does not have that, which is why they are on the short end of the stick tonight.

  9. diablito0402 - Jun 13, 2011 at 1:33 AM

    Everyone is wrong about the tatoo on lebricks back. Its THE CHOKER ONE!!!!!!

    • philtration - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:32 AM

      I thought it said “More Lube Dwayne!”

  10. nightmangler - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    you ppl kill me to say lebron is he best in the league. i seriously doubt it. i cane name 2 thats better. WADE & KOBE . great players dont choke

    • david8726 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:36 AM

      You mean like how Dirk choked away the 2006 finals?

      Or how Kobe’s Lakers choked and blew a 20+ point halftime lead in game 4 of the 2008 finals and went on to lose the series?

      Great players do lose in embarrassing ways sometimes.

    • barkley4life - Jun 13, 2011 at 8:29 AM

      I think Lebron is the most talented player in the league and have defended his game on here. However there is only one place for him to go right now and that is to win titles. Until he can overcome that hurdle he can NOT be the BEST.

      Kobe is still the biggest KILLER in the game. Wade has proven his merits. Dirk now enters the circle…Lebron is on the outside looking in.

      Talent only gets you so far.

      • almzor - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:17 PM

        What LeBron needs is honestly a coach who he respects and listens to. Someone who can get through to him in practice, or when he starts checking out of a game mentally. Brown couldn’t do it, and Spo apparently couldn’t either. The name of the game to LeBron is fun, and he needs a coach who can push him past the point when he stops having fun.

  11. tashkalucy - Jun 13, 2011 at 3:11 AM

    Get a grip, Kurt.

    If you think 25-27 owners are going to sit around and watch all-stars treat the NBA as if the objective is to build 3-5 AAU teams, than apparently you’re not aware of the impending lockout.

    It’s funny how “capitalism” is OK for the players to go where they want to…..players and their agents that have not invested a cent in the league. But 25-27 owners that have invested hundred of millions have to tell their fans that their teams are going to be feeder teams to the glamour markets like MLB while they lose money every year? Those owners didn’t get that type of money to invest being dumb. I expect they put a stop to this 3-man buddie teams and slap a hard cap that will stop the Heat and Knicks from bringing in anything other that has-beens like the Bibby’s and Howard’s.

    What you missed was that everything that is wrong with American professional sports played against everything that is right with them…..and the good guys won. It’s the American Way, and the way the smart teams will build, play and win in the future.

    • davidly - Jun 13, 2011 at 12:35 PM

      I think your heart is in the right place here, but this sounds a bit like a Randian-like rant. You see, last time I looked, one couldn’t find an owner who actually invested in a house for his team to play in, let alone rules to benefit parity.

      You write: But 25-27 owners that have invested hundred of millions have to tell their fans… but I have to stop you right there. Owners have fans? Well, I can think of one, and he’s not exactly the association-al darling, especially now that he has just garnered a trophy.

      You write: Those owners didn’t get that type of money to invest being dumb. Yet, they continually do so.

      I don’t agree with Helin’s assessment either, but only because I think that this anomaly that is the Dallas Mavericks is just that. Otherwise championships have been built on multi-star rosters.

      I hope you’re right and that changes, but I ain’ holdin’ my breath.

  12. bittersonicsfan - Jun 13, 2011 at 6:25 AM


    Oh yeah! That guy! How quickly Mr Helin forgets. But can we blame the lovable goober? He has Dallas fever and the only remedy is knee jerk reactions. I might have had some pretty inflamatory thoughts about how the Mavs are great. I love me some Tyson Chandler, he’s a great center. But Dwight Howard is the best, hands down. I can’t believe it hasn’t crossed anyone’s minds, good job coming with the stone cold logic.

  13. davidly - Jun 13, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    For about a year now, folks have been talking about how this move was something unusual. The specifics of the logistics notwithstanding, the level of the top three on this team is not unusual versus the past. Much is made of the pay-cut that the big three took. I say the Heat are still getting soaked. (You think this is the final makeup of the dynasty, and if not, who are they gonna get?)

    Yeah, I know, I know: Both LeBron James and D-Wade are somehow simultaneously the greatest player of all time and Bosh is a future Hall of Famer. If you are judging by market value perhaps (look how that’s panned out in regular life).

    I’d say that recent NBA history is rife with power trios whose teams got way more for their money than the Heat:
    Lakers: O’Neal, Bryant, Horry (2 mvp’s, Horry has 7 rings, Shaq 4, Kobe 5)
    Celts: Pierce, Garnett, Allen (1 mvp, all-time leader 3pt, 1 title)
    Spurs: Robinson, Duncan, Parker/Horry (3 combined mvp’s, 4 combined titles)
    Bulls: Jordan, Pippen, Grant/Rodman (sorry Bosh ain’ there yet)
    Pistons: Thomas, Rodman, Dumars (2 titles)
    Lakers: Magic, Jabbar, Worthy (9 combined mvp’s, 5 championships)
    Celts: McHale, Bird, Parish (3 Hall of Famers, 3 titles)
    Lakers: West, Chamberlain, Baylor (ridiculous)

    Riley is old school. He should have known better.

    • lakerfan32 - Jun 13, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      Great post, Davidly. But I think the winning formula is more often two superstars plus the amazing supporting cast. Several of the players you mentioned are/were role players – outstanding ones such as Rodman, Horry — but not go-to players.

      • davidly - Jun 13, 2011 at 11:06 AM

        I thank you for the compliment and agree with your assessment. But you are only elucidating the reality that Miami only has a big two as well, yet won’t be able to afford all the role players they need.

        Bosh is not better than Rodman or Horry or Grant or Pierce or Worthy, or McHale (or Parish) and he sure as hell isn’t better than Baylor or Duncan.

        He is a great player and might prove himself a champion some day. But it’ll have to be with the Heat, because no one can afford to take him in a trade. It’s a shame. He seems like a nice enough guy and probably thought this was his ticket to trophies.

        The list I posted includes players who complement each other very well, and were of a market value that allowed for the other role players you mention.

        I think that the Riley bought the wrong pieces, paid too much money for them, and is now stuck with trying to figure out how he is going to complement them. If they are going to win a championship, it will have to be a year when someone like Dallas (or Ok City or Memphis or Chicago) doesn’t get in the way.

  14. mogogo1 - Jun 13, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Sorry, but the Heat’s example cannot be easily followed, if for no other reason there aren’t enough guys like Chris Bosh to go around. You can find plenty of guys who are willing to sort out 1a vs 1b, but very few stars in their prime are so unmotivated they’ll gladly play third fiddle. I mean that as a dig on Bosh more than a compliment, but the reality is he was the wild card in this deal. Most guys with the talent to be the guy want to be the guy.

    And stars don’t always bring the specific skill sets you need to put together a balanced team. I’d argue the Heat would be stronger with one less All Star and a handful of guys who could fill specific roles. Take Bosh away and give them a good point guard and a couple passable bench players and they might be champions right now.

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