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Old 06-20-2006, 01:38 PM   #1331
Tebowing the long haul
all the way to the title

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
Posts: 37,002

Champ Bailey

From the Sports Guy's page 2 column...

Today at 11:36 AM


By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Forget about who's winning the championship. I'm starting to feel like the future of the NBA is at stake.

We just spent the past two months raving about the "New And Improved" NBA -- end-to-end action, loads of points, dramatic endings, a new generation of superstars coming into their own, coaches and owners willing to think outside the box. And Dallas personified everything that was happening. The Mavericks could play small, they could play big, they could play fast, they could play slow ... talking about them almost made me feel like Rollergirl describing Dirk Diggler. Their offense revolved around a 7-foot German who created a new form of post-up offense, setting up shop at the foul line and destroying defenders in a variety of ways. They had an answer for everything. That was the best thing about the Mavs -- their unpredictability. You never knew what to expect with them.

Unfortunately, they still had to get through Miami -- an old-school, MJ Era-type team with one superstar (Wade), another All-Star (Shaq), some overpaid pieces that didn't quite fit and a famous coach. Everything about them is predictable -- one guy creates every shot in crunch time, everyone else stands around and watches him, and every once in awhile those guys get to shoot an open jumper or finish a nice dish. This recipe would be boring if it weren't for Wade, a dynamic talent and the most consistent crunch-time scorer since Jordan. But that's the problem: In between Jordan and Wade, we had to watch all the wannabes pretending to be as good as them. And they weren't. Not even close.

Jesse D. Garrabant/Getty Images
If Miami wins the title, the new NBA slogan may be: "Free throws! They're FAN-tastic!"

Here's what happens if Miami wins the title: New Jersey will say to themselves, "Hey, maybe this could happen to us with Vince Carter"; Washington will say the same about Arenas; Boston with Pierce; G-State with Richardson; the Lakers with Kobe; New Team X with Iverson. And so on and so on. But that's just the thing ... we went through this last decade. There was only one MJ; the formula couldn't be replicated. Same with Dwyane Wade; only LeBron can match him. And everyone else will fail trying, which means we can look forward to another decade of perimeter scorers going 11 for 32 in big games, teammates standing around while stars dribble at the top of the key waiting to challenge two defenders at once, and refs deciding every big game (like in Game 5) by how they interpret contact when the same guy is recklessly driving to the basket over and over again. Does any of this sound fun to you? I didn't think so.

As much as I enjoy watching Wade, a Heat title would erase all the progress of this spring. The Heat don't play well together offensively, they don't bring the best out of one another ... they uneasily co-exist for the sake of a larger purpose (an elusive championship). Just watch some of their guys during the average game. Does Shaq ever seem happy? Walker? Payton? Posey? It's a 1990s team playing in a different decade, only Wade is so freaking good, they're getting away with it and, hell, they might even win a championship.

As a basketball fan, I think this would be terrible. A tragedy, even. Nothing against Wade -- after all, it isn't his fault his team sucks and he has to play this way -- but seeing an individual triumph over a team YET AGAIN would erase every positive outcome from the 2005-06 season. Basically, the team with LeBron or Wade will win the next 10-12 titles, and it will come down to which guy made more 20-footers with two guys on him and which guy got the most cheap calls from the most spineless referees. That's not basketball, it's a star system. When my wife was asking why I was so ticked off after Game 5, it wasn't because I had money on the game (I didn't), or because I liked one team more than the other (I don't). If Miami wins, we may as well go back to box haircuts again, because it's going to be 1991 all over again -- the "New and Improved" NBA will have been defeated, and the Old-School NBA will reign supreme.

If you enjoyed the Spurs-Mavs and Suns-Mavs series this year, just root for Dallas these last two games. Trust me. It's for the best.

ome other scattered thoughts as we head into Game 6 of the WWE, er, the NBA Finals ...

(continued below)
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