||06-17-2006 01:24 PM
Originally Posted by RhymesayersDU
This past week in Vegas, I almost bet the Ravens to win the SuperBowl @ 30-1. Seriously, had I done it, this season would have sucked so bad wanting them to win in the back of my mind every week.
But damn, if McNair stays healthy they could be dangerous. And 30-1, yikes. I almost bet the Broncos at 10-1, but wasn't really confident in the bet so I just stuck to betting on the NBA Finals.
Yeah, you were way better off betting the Mavs.
Buy a clue, Cuban
By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
June 16, 2006
MIAMI – He sat there on David Letterman's show with a co****re grin and a smack-talking mouth in a guest appearance whose bad timing was exceeded only by its imbecilic arrogance.
What in the world (other than his Texas-sized ego) possessed Mark Cuban to go on national TV Wednesday and yuk it up like the NBA Finals were in the bag? What was Cuban thinking when he decided to take a pot shot at Miami Heat coach Pat Riley, criticizing his style of play as being ugly and overly physical?
Well guess what, the NBA Finals just turned into just that kind of Riley-perfect series – a physical slugfest.
It's a style that doesn't suit a Dallas Mavericks franchise that will have questions about toughness (physical and mental) until it either wins a title or has Cuban stop pampering them with opulent locker rooms, easy excuses and a home-court environment long on one slapstick silly gag after another.
The Heat didn't just outplay Dallas in their 98-74 victory on Thursday. They pushed the Mavericks around and out-toughed them to take a series that once looked over at 2-0 to a 2-2 tie heading into Sunday's critical Game 5 back at AmericaAirlines Arena.
"It's just really disappointing when the other team is pushing and we're not pushing back hard enough," lamented Mavs coach Avery Johnson.
You can't win the NBA title without being tough, and right now, that same old question is still hanging, unanswered, over Dallas. The Mavericks have the better team here, but that may not be enough if they are going to just wilt in the South Florida humidity.
Cuban may famously prefer a free-wheeling, wide-open game and goofy circus acts to entertain the fans, but you don't win championships by being prettier and friendlier than everyone else.
"I think when you get to this time," said Riley, who was heart-attack serious as usual, "it becomes as much about will as it is execution."
Will and toughness were the shortcomings that Johnson was supposed to solve, and in leading Dallas to the Finals, it appeared he had. But who knows now? The Mavericks haven't shown the ability to get nasty after getting popped in the chops – the way championship teams do – since a late Game 3 rally by Miami floored them.
"In New York, they call it Rucker Park," Johnson said. "Where I'm from [in New Orleans], it's called Lyman Park, playground basketball. And a lot of times, that's what it is because you can't expect anybody to bail you out.
"I've tried to get a team that really [doesn't] complain; [they] just play," Johnson said. "But when we're complaining and we're not playing, we're not going to get it done."
There is no doubt Johnson is wondering about his team's fortitude. "It's hard for me to watch some of this stuff," said Johnson, who as a player would never have backed down.
Other than Jerry Stackhouse, whose flagrant foul on Shaquille O'Neal spoke of a player who wasn't going to go down easy, there wasn't any spark. (Predictably, Shaq was not going to give Stack any satisfaction – "My daughters tackle me harder," he said.)
In an increasingly physical game, Dallas scored just seven points in the fourth quarter and watched its star Dirk Nowitzki hit just two of 14 shots and complain to the officials after nearly every miss.
"[Udonis] Haslem is roughing him up," said Johnson, who wasn't complaining, just stating fact. "[James] Posey is playing physical. They are putting a blanket on him and he's going to have to get that blanket off of him.
"You know," Johnson sighed, "we've had certain demonstrations on how to do it. Now it's just a matter of will power."
And this has been the question with the Mavericks. Cuban is a colorful personality and often a breath of fresh air among all those stodgy owners, but he also coddles the players, offers constant complaints about officiating that serve as easy excuses and can overstep his boundaries.
It would be dumb for a player, in the middle of the Finals, to go on a late-night TV talk show and rile the opponent. It would be downright stupid for a coach to do it? But the owner? The stinkin' owner? A guy who doesn't even play? It's inexplicable.
Everyone wants to watch Cuban have a good time, but winning a championship takes discipline and focus, not appearances on "The Late Show," the leaking of championship parade dates to the local newspapers and juvenile blog entries.
He should be either smart enough – or, since he's rich enough, hire someone smart enough – to stop inserting himself in the middle of a title chase and stop setting the less-than-serious tone, especially when he is trashing the exact style of play that has his team on its heels.
Dallas is playing right into the hands of Pat Riley, whose Heat will keep slugging until someone other than Stackhouse slugs back harder than a Hasselhoff.
Because no matter what Cuban thinks of Pat Riley's style of basketball, Miami's coach has four rings that not even Cuban may be able to buy.
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is an award-winning sportswriter, author and screenwriter. He has covered all levels of basketball as well as college football, the NFL, MLB and NHL.
Cuban feeling the Heat
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Miami - At the NBA Finals, the worst seat in the house is the one behind Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who's always in the darn way.
How do you tell a billionaire to plant his big derriere back in a front-row seat?
"You shout 'SIT DOWN!"' said AmericanAirlines Arena usher Lawrence Hadley, who stood up to Cuban, getting on his case within the first 15 seconds of what proved to be a long Thursday night for the dot-com billionaire, what with Miami routing Dallas 98-74. "I don't care who you are or how much money you have, you've got show people respect.
"You've got to sit down. Because the Heat is on."
There is only one reason to hate the Mavericks.
His name is Mark Cuban, the incurable adolescent who owns an NBA franchise but refuses to grow up.
Cuban is smarter than you, richer than you and laughing louder than you.
And don't you forget it.
Asked why basketball rivals that might try to duplicate the Mavs' recipe for success are likely to cook up nothing except frustration, Cuban said: "They don't know the secret sauce."
What the heck is this dot-com geek doing on the court, standing on the edge of the Dallas circle during timeouts at the NBA Finals?
Cuban attends games dressed as if ready to clean out the garage. He's constantly on his feet in front of his seat, showing up referees, expressing disgust with every call that goes against the Mavs.
Personally, I like Cuban. Any 40-something man who bobs his head to the beats of Eminem before tipoff is as close to one of the boys as a billionaire can be.
But is it any wonder Heat fans threw towels at him when Dallas collapsed at the end of Game 3?
And when the Mavericks flushed their advantage in this best-of-seven series in Game 4, Cuban groused to an ABC-TV sideline reporter that Dallas was playing like dirt, although the disgruntled owner might have actually employed a different four-letter word.
Cuban insults the opposition without really trying.
"I like Miami. It's the home of 'Scarface.' What could be wrong?" Cuban said.
Miami. Home of Scarface.
Somehow, I don't think the tourism board will be adopting that as a marketing slogan anytime soon.
There was a bad rumor Cuban had docked a yacht within walking distance of the arena and adorned it with a "Go Mavs" banner.
Absolutely not true, insisted Cuban.
"I don't own a boat," he said. "But I've been in the row boat."
Then, Cuban went for the cheap joke.
"I think my dad is on (the boat) drinking," he said. "So you can say there's a Cuban on there. But, it's not hard to find a Cuban on a boat here."
The only problem with Cuban is he thinks this game is about him. Not satisfied with being part of the scene, he makes a scene.
Earlier this season, while doing a television interview with Jim Gray, a Kiss-Me camera in the arena framed the two men. "He wouldn't take the tongue," Cuban said.
Rivals view him as a graceless winner and a sore loser.
Please forgive Miami spectators for cheering against Cuban as much as cheering for their home team.
"They don't go for the 'San Antonio sucker,"' said Cuban, complimenting Heat fans while dissing the Spurs. "I tried standing up so they would start booing and screaming when one of Miami's guys was at the foul line. Then, they realized Dwyane Wade was at the line and they shut up."
Wade scored 36 points in Game 4. Center Shaquille O'Neal looked like Superman. No matter how intently Cuban stared over the shoulder of Dallas coach Avery Johnson, there was nothing the Mavericks or their know-it-all owner could do to stop it.
"He didn't want to stand no more when that score got way up there in Miami's favor," Hadley said. "He was sitting down in his seat, looking all glum."
The Heat has wiped the arrogance off Cuban's face.
Nothing makes America happier than a billionaire having a bad time.
Staff writer Mark Kiszla can be reached at 303-820-5438 or email@example.com.