Mavericks Didn’t Choke in Spurs Series

Many people will be piling on the Dallas Mavericks for yet another early playoffs exit but I don’t want you falling into that same pattern. They’ll point to Dallas winning at least 50 games every season in the decade and having nothing to show for it. I say they came damn close in ’06 and the legacy of Shaq and Dwyane Wade wouldn’t be what it is had Dallas held on. They’ll remind you the Mavs have made first-round playoff exits in three of the past four years. I have a more logical explanation for each situation that doesn’t involve the lazy shortcuts most media members take. Most importantly, they’ll remind you that the Mavericks are the first two seed to lose to a seven seed in the first round since the format was expanded to best of seven. Anyone who recites this fact should keep in mind that the Spurs could have just as easily been the two seed.

Three years ago, the Mavericks had the best record in the NBA, the MVP award winner, and they drew a first-round matchup against an eight seed that had beaten them every game during the regular season. The Warriors beat the Mavs in six games pulling off the upset. Two years ago, the Mavs’ window of opportunity seemed to be closing as they squeaked into the playoffs as a seven seed and got bounced by a superior Hornets team. Guys like Josh Howard were more concerned with partying than playing and the result was Avery Johnson getting fired for “losing his team.” The Mavericks still managed to win 50 games last season but they seemed to have faded to become a borderline playoff team in the West.

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Craig Ehlo: Cuban Will Pursue Bob Knight

So we’ve already established that the Mavericks fired coach Avery Johnson in the wake of their first round playoff exit. I always say you have to see what’s out there first before you move on, but perhaps this is best for both parties. Now the question for Dallas becomes who do they hire? There aren’t too many big names out there I can think of, and we all know my buddy LB already took a gig with Charlotte. So where does that leave Dallas? Craig Ehlo joined Arnie Spanier on Sporting News Radio Wednesday and offered this possibility:

I think Mark Cuban will actually go after Bobby Knight. You know he just lives in Lubbock, Texas only 375 miles west of there. Cuban is an Indiana grad and I wouldn’t put it past him to offer something to Bobby Knight if Bobby Knight would be willing.

Let’s see, Cuban could offer something, but I don’t see any chance that Bob Knight takes it. He’s already gone on a limb by taking a job with ESPN, is there really a chance he tries out the pro game? I don’t think Knight wants any part of the professional ballplayer. Bob Knight not being able to pick and choose who is on his team via recruiting? Not a good mix. Not going to happen, though the thought is awesome. And who knows, Cuban could try to make something happen here — he’s all about the splash, and hot damn, this would be a waterfall.

Josh Howard Partying During Playoffs?

It was only two weeks ago that I wrote about Baron Davis reportedly being out partying the night before the Warriors’ last game of the season — a must-win they lost to Phoenix that eliminated them from the playoffs. And today it disappoints me to write about the report from the Dallas area that Josh Howard was partying in between important games as well.

After a loss in Game 4 on Sunday, Howard passed out fliers in the locker room inviting teammates to celebrate his 28th birthday at a Dallas nightclub, a source said. The Mavs were down, 3-1, in the best-of-7 series.

Only a few players attended, the source said. But Avery Johnson confronted the players about the party the next day and canceled practice. The players decided to practice without the coaching staff.

The birthday party situation came two days after Howard went on a local radio show and discussed his off-season marijuana use.

Dude, what is this guy’s deal? Why volunteer to the media that you smoke weed in the offseason? That only makes people question your dedication, it doesn’t give you cool points. And then partying in the middle of the playoffs? After a loss no less? Are you kidding me? Do these guys not have any discipline? Seems to me like you can’t blame Avery Johnson and Dirk for this (though Avery was pardoned from his role as head coach). It’s about Josh Howard shooting a horrendous 29% from the field as the team’s second scoring option, caring more about partying than preparing for these games. Clearly Avery wanted to win. Kind of hard to do so when some of your players care less about it than you do. I don’t think this means Avery lost his team, I just think it means Howard’s immature, and now some team is going to get a really good coach because of it. And maybe the Mavs need to think about getting a different number two scorer who has his priorities in order.

Watch the Dallas Mavericks Live in 3D

Even if Mark Cuban is doing his best to piss off bloggers and make it awkward for others, he still is on the cutting edge when it comes to product development. The man who started HDNet has arranged a screening of the Mavericks/Clippers game Tuesday in 3D at a movie theater. No surprise that Cuban’s idea is a form of synergy for the man who owns both the Mavericks and some Landmark theaters, but the concept in itself is quite creative. FSN Southwest will broadcast the game in 2-D and work with a special 3-D production crew to make the 3-D broadcast work. Cuban seems to think the idea is a real winner:

“I think 3-D will play a huge role in out-of-home entertainment for the next few years,” said Cuban, founder of HDNet. “It will be a unique experience for watching sports, concerts and special events that only theaters will be able to offer.”

I don’t know if I’d be running out of the house to go catch a basketball game in 3-D, but I do have to say that I’m quite intrigued. And by intrigued, I mean I’d like to watch it if I had the opportunity, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to do so. Man, never shy to express his opinion, Mark Cuban is always way ahead of the game when it comes to technological ideas. Is it any surprise he’s a billionaire?

Avery Questioning Dirk’s Leadership?

Something was clearly missing from Dirk in the playoffs this year. He was the rightful recipient of the regular season MVP, and the quick exit by the Mavs was probably attributed to a poor matchup against the Warriors. Still, I was expecting nothing less than a finals run, and quite simply, a championship from Dallas last year. So what’s the deal? Where did it go wrong with Dirk? Maybe it has something to do with his questionable leadership skills, as Marcel Mutoni at FanHouse tips me off. From a Q&A with Avery Johnson in the Dallas Morning News:

What does Dirk Nowitzki have to do this year to improve on an MVP season?

Dirk can get better, and there are some things that Dirk can improve in that may not be basketball-related. It may be leadership-related. Dirk can get better on and off the court. And that’s why I’ve been stretching him. He’s the reigning MVP, and if he’s not willing to be stretched by his coach, then he never would have improved. So he’s willing to be stretched. And his stretching may not be necessarily on the court, but it may be in the area of leadership, and we’re willing to help him get better in that area.

You know, if Avery wanted to protect his player while answering diplomatically, he could’ve just said that things didn’t end up the way the Mavericks had hoped, and that there’s always room for improvement, regardless of whether or not you won an MVP … yadda, yadda, yadda. But no, Avery went straight to the leadership card. I’ve always liked how confrontational Avery has been, but maybe he didn’t have to go there at this time. Then again, he could be dead on with Dirk.

Dirk Deserves the MVP

It seems pretty simple to me — Dirk was the best player on the best team in a year where no other individual had as good a year for a team that came close to performing as well as the Mavericks. That’s why the report from ESPN’s Marc Stein that Dirk won the MVP award does not shock me. The voting occurs before the playoffs begin meaning whatever happens after the regular season — the important stuff — is insignificant. This is something Shaq should know well, as he bitched about Steve Nash winning back-to-back MVPs instead of him. I’ve always felt that Shaq has the real prize — the rings — and he’ll have the last laugh. Given a choice to Nash and Dirk, I guarantee you they’d prefer an NBA Championship.

But will Dirk and the Mavericks’ choke job keep them from winning future awards? Have they become their own worst enemies? After posting such an excellent regular season mark, going 67-15 to lead the NBA, there’s nothing they can possibly do that will change the public and the media’s view of them. They could go 72-10 next year, and there still will be people questioning if Avery Johnson deserves coach of the year, Dirk MVP (assuming he plays just as well as last year), and whether or not they should have three All-Stars. I know one thing. I will not let the poor performance of the Mavs in the playoffs cloud my judgment; they had a fantastic regular season, and Dirk firmly established himself as the leader of the best regular season team in the NBA. And that’s what this award is based on — the regular season.

How Soft Are the Mavericks?

Apparently so soft they’re changing their team logo (shh, it’s going to be a surprise to Mark Cuban from the marketing department)

Those Sons of Steve Garvey SOBs never fail to make me laugh. Keep up the good photoshop work, gents.