rrraaarrgh dirk smash
I know it's hard, but try to enjoy this...

Note: Last night at my pickup league, I suffered my 278th busted lip and what might have been a mild concussion (which might explain why I spent the next several hours feeling nauseous and woozy). As a result, I couldn't spend my usual three-four hours researching and writing Worst of the Night. Yeah, sorry. So this is what I've got: something I threw together on the way into work.

Have you taken a look at the season standings lately? The Atlanta Hawks (10-2) are the best team in the East. Out West, things are looking a little retro. And I mean retro circa 2005-06. The Phoenix Suns (10-2) have the top spot, and the Dallas Mavericks (9-3) are in second.

It doesnt make any sense. Going into the season, the Suns lineup appeared to be fatally flawed. They had traded away an All-Star center (Shaq) for two Walking Waivers (Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic), signed Steve Nash (35 years old, bad back) to an extension, and re-signed Grant Hill (37 years old, a history of debilitating injuries). Amar''''''''e Stoudemire (multiple knee surgeries, bum eye) was going to be back, but he was an incomplete player to begin with, and now he's slightly damaged goods. Leandro Barbosa's skills aren't a match for his speed. Jason Richardson is a gunner. Robin Lopez isn't half as good as his brother, Brook, and now he's out 6-8 weeks following left foot surgery. Channing Frye is a castoff. The bench -- Alando Tucker, Earl Clark, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, the immortal Jarron Collins, Louis Amundson, and Taylor Griffin -- probably wouldn't make a very good D-League team. No, seriously. Go back and reread the names of the Phoenix reserves. That's the kind of supporting cast that would make some people demand a trade and then freak out in a parking lot.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks looked like a team that could win 50-ish games, but they've been plagued by injuries to Erick Dampier (mystery illness), Josh Howard (out indefinitely with a sore left ankle), Shawn Marion (sprained ankle), and Tim Thomas (knee surgery). Okay, the Thomas injury has really only cost them 3-5 terrible three-point attempts per game. But the other guys...that's three-fifths of the team's projected starting lineup. Imagine if the Lakers were without Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Derek Fisher's corpse. Or maybe you switch Ron Artest with Fisher's corpse, but you see where I'm going with this.

And yet, both teams have risen to the top of the league. Why? Because Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash are playing out of their fucking minds. Statistically speaking, they aren't quite matching their best seasons...but they're coming pretty damn close. Captain Canada has had seven double-doubles, including two 20-assist games. He's shooting 50.7 percent from the field, 45 percent from downtown, and 92..5 percent from the line for a True Shooting Percentage of 63 percent. Dirk has had six double-doubles, including two 40-point games. He's not shooting as well as Nash (44/36/90), but he's actually become a clutch player. Suddenly, he's hitting buzzer-beaters (as he did against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday) and dominating overtimes (Dirk scored 11 of the Mavs' 15 OT points against the Spurs last night). Honestly, when I was watching last night's SAS-DAL game, I honestly thought, without a single drip of irony, "Wow, Nowitzki is unstoppable."

As much sense as it's not making that the Mavs and Suns are doing so well, it makes even less sense (to me) that Nash and Nowitzki aren't being overwhelmed in kudos. Nash is getting some recognition, I guess. Both Basketball-Reference and ESPN.com have them at or near the top of their respective MVP trackers. Meanwhile, BBR has Dirk listed third and ESPN has him sixth...three spots behind Dwyane Wade. And I'm sorry, but Nowitzki has been better than Wade this season. I mean, the Mavs are still winning despite starting Drew Gooden (another castoff) at center. Let me repeat for emphasis: Drew Gooden is starting at center for the Mavericks. Dogs, cats, living together...mass hysteria!

Despite the fact that Phoenix is the feel-good story of the season -- a team left for dead against all odds is playing like the league's best team -- people are still pointing to their blowout losses to the Magic and Lakers as proof that they aren't for real (despite the fact that both games took place on the road on the second night of back-to-backs, and the Lakers game was the Suns' seventh in 10 days). The Lakers recently got their asses whupped in Denver and then lost at home to the star-less Houston Rockets despite having a couple days worth of rest. Last night, the Cavaliers got bitchslapped 108-91 by a rather pathetic Wizards team thanks in part to a LeBron James meltdown. But, for some reason, losses don't count against the Cavs and Lakers. There are excuses for both teams. The Lakers are without Pau Gasol, and Kobe has a cranky groin. LeBron hurt his left wrist trying to dunk last night, and Cleveland is playing without Shaq and Anderson Varejao.

But I've already listed the handicaps of the Mavs and Suns, so those excuses ring a little hollow. And, frankly, I don't want to hear about Kobe's groin and LeBron's wrist. I mean, Nash has been playing with a congenital back condition for years. I don't get it. When Mamba or King Crab tweak something, it's Big News. So much was made of Kobe's bum pinky a couple years back even though it never seemed to affect him. (And, honestly, it shouldn't have. As someone who has several mangled digits from years of playing pickup ball, I can tell you that bum fingers are just part of the sport.) But Nash's creaky back is treated rather routinely. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the average NBA fan probably doesn't even know about it. Let me ask you this, though. Have you ever tried to play basketball with a bad back? Or do anything else with a bad back, for that matter? My back goes out periodically, and simple things like breathing and walking become difficult. I can't even imagine playing pro ball, or performing like and MVP under those circumstances.

I can't help but feel as though, if Kobe or LeBron had a congenital back problem, it would be relentlessly crammed down our throats. Seriously, would we ever hear the end of it? Tales of their bravery would be spun into Legend.

Steve and Dirk have more MVPs (three) than Kobe and LeBron (two), and yet, amazingly, that seems to actually count against them. Nash's MVPs caused a firestorm of controversy that still gets brought up and dissected, mostly because the Suns never could get by the Spurs in the playoffs. Bill Simmons even listed Steve's MVPs in the "Bullshit MVPs" section of his new book. Dirk's MVP raised eyebrows intially and then got ripped to shreds after his Mavericks (who had won 67 games during the regular season) got upended by the eight-seeded Golden State Warriors. Yet Kobe didn't suffer the same scrutiny when, during his MVP season, the Lakers entered the 2008 NBA Finals as the favorites and yet endured what some sports writers called "a six-game sweep." During LeBron's MVP season, he took less heat for getting eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals than he did for not shaking hands afterward.

To sum up: playoff failures count against Nash and Nowitzki. They do not counnt against Kobe and LeBron. Why is that?

It's silly, really. In the last decade, five teams have won NBA titles: the Celtics, Heat, Lakers, Pistons and Spurs. Four teams out of 30. It makes no sense to discredit a player based on whether they won a championship. Championships are team accomplishments, maybe even organizational accomplishments. I mean, do the Celtics win in '08 if Danny Ainge doesn't somehow acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the offseason? Do the Lakers win last year if Mitch Kupchak doesn't fleece the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol? And let's not forget the Shaq deal, which brought in Lamar Odom, who was a key player in L.A.'s playoff run. Oh, and we all know how well the Spurs and Pistons have been managed. (And I mean the Pistons before the Iverson-for-Billups trade.)

Meanwhile, Robert Sarver has repeatedly cost the Suns quality players by making enemies of guys like Joe Johnson and trading away first-round draft picks for minor cash savings. Seriously, the Suns could have added Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo to a cast that included Nash, Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson, Leandro Barbosa, Quentin Richardson (back when he was good), and Paul Shirley. (Okay, I was kidding about Shirley. But still.) And let's not forget Mark Cuban, who spends recklessly but let Nash walk over a few million dollars then broke the bank for Erick Dampier. And remember when Cuban traded for Antoine Walker?

Some people have claimed that Nash's MVPs were the result of racism. Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald infamously wrote: "No one who looks or plays like Steve Nash has ever been basketball's MVP. Ever. In the history of the award, a tiny, one-dimensional point guard who plays no defense and averages fewer than 16 points a game never has won it. But Nash just stole Shaquille O'Neal's trophy, even though O'Neal had much better numbers than Nash in just about every individual statistical measurement except assists, so it begs the question: Is this as black and white as the box scores that usually decide these things?" (Emphasis mine.) There were similar rumblings when Nowitzki's MVP followed up Nash's.

Remember back in 1987 when Isiah Thomas said that if Larry Bird was black, he'd be "just another good guy." And Dennis Rodman -- who's "Bird is overrated because he's white" comment inspired Isiah's faux pas -- wrote in his autobiograpy that: "When you talk about race in basketball, the whole thing is simple: a black player knows he can go out on the court and kick a white player's ass."

It's not just NBA players who think that, you know. Fans and the general public believe it as well. So it's impossible for most people to put Dirk and Steve in a special category right below the Kobes, LeBrons and Dwyane Wades of the league. Even a lot of my knowledgeable, basketball-loving buddies get more excited over a LeBron dunk or a low-percentage two-handed scoop shot by Kobe. To my knowledge, these friends have never showed up raving about a Steve Nash bounce pass or a Dirk Nowitzki rainbow jumper.

Kobe, LeBron, Wade...they look more impressive than the other two ever could. And there's something about someone looking physically dominant that's compelling. I see this happen all the time in pickup ball. Most guys would rather play with an athletic-looking black man than a pasty, undefined white guy...even if the white guy is significantly better.

Look, I'm not trying to make any grand statements about race here. Nor am I trying to argue that Dirk and Steve are better individual players than Kobe and LeBron. After all, as the folks at BBR are quick to point out, the Nash and Nowitzki have their issues on the defensive end. But they are unquestionably great. All they do -- night in, night out -- is give their absolute all and win. They've won a lot in the 2000s. No, they haven't won a championship, but that's not all their fault.

My point is: let's appreciate these guys. It's dangerous to take players for granted. Let me put it this way. I'm a Colts fan. Therefore, I hate the Patriots, and I really, really hate Tom Brady. But some time last year, Evil Ted -- who's a Patriots fan and, believe it, somewhat more level-headed than I am about the Colts-Pats rivalry -- said: "I know you don't like Brady and the Patriots, but the Colts-Patriots games are the best football you're going to see. We get to watch living legends duke it out. We get to spend the rest of our lives knowing we got to watch two of the greatest quarterbacks ever in their prime. Try to enjoy it, or you'll regret it 10 years from now."

Much as I hate to admit it, he was right. Last weekend's game between those two teams was a prime example of what he was talking about. I'm not asking you to switch allegiances or write "I Heart Steve Nash" on your Trapper Keeper. But maybe we can all stop shooting holes in what they've accomplished and pointing fingers at what they haven't...and just enjoy what they're giving us. It'll be worth remembering 10 years from now.

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110 Comments:
OpenID NarSARSsist said...
Bawful - Quick correction: Brook Lopez isn't half as good as his brother, and now he's out 6-8 weeks following left foot surgery. I think you meant Robin. However, we all know that the Suns only signed Robin to pull the ole twin-switcheroo when the Nyets get eliminated from playoff contention, so you're not wrong

Blogger Murcy said...
I heart Steve Nash!

Blogger Paul said...
Bawful fail. You've been a big Kobe basher your entire life.
How about you switch Dirk's or Nash's name for Kobe's name and write an article about how much you've hated on him and have never been able to enjoy one of the top 10 greatest of all time while in his prime?

As far as Nash and Dirk goes, I don't think people has hated on them too much to begin with.
Maybe your only source of reading is the sports guy?

What I'm saying is... Nash got TWO freaking MVP awards in a ROW.
Don't think he needs you to defend his honor, just sayin...

Anonymous Pete Elliott said...
As a lifelong Cavs fan, I got to say not only am I disappointed in last night's loss, I'm disappointed in LeBron's comments after the game. Not only the home-cooking about foul shots, but the "It's like your funny bone, only it's not funny!" comment sounds like something out of a Sinbad stand-up routine.

I really love my team and think LeBron is a good cat, but he's got to avoid the whining and griping he's been doing recently and put his head down and fuck shit up. The Cavs are supposed to be a "no excuses" team and aren't living up to that by saying stuff like "we're not getting enough free throws."

And I completely agree that a guy like LeBron/Kobe getting press about a minor injury is stupid when Steve Nash has a fucked up back (is it a spondylolysis?).

LeBron's injury is pretty minor, he'll be able to play through it little issue -- he's just got some inflammation on one of the nerves in his wrist which may aggravate and he'll get some numbness/tingling in his fingers from time to time if it gets hit, but it's not like he's playing with a freaking broken wrist.

Kobe's torn vajayjay is pretty pathetic, especially considering how after the Lakers lost the other night Phil Jax says "Oh, uh, wait... Uh, Kobe... has... a strained groin! Yeah, that's the ticket!" as if it makes the loss acceptable.

Should either of the injuries get time on Sportscenter beyond just "LeBron aggravated his wrist" or "Kobe's got a sore groin?" Should they be sidenotes to blame the loss on the superstar having a minor injury? None of the above.

Blogger Jonathan said...
[quote]It's silly, really. In the last decade, four teams have won NBA titles: the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons and Spurs. Four teams out of 30.[/quote]
It's actually five, you forgot Miami in 2006.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Dude you should have told me and I would have helped with some of the writeup! Good post anyways.

Pre-2007, I was the driver of the Nowitski vag wagon. Guy couldn't do shit, shrank in the spotlight, and infuriated me that his Mavs ousted the Suns instead of the traditional Spurs methodic beatdown, and won the MVP.

But two semi-related things changed. Yes, he's shooting out of his mind, and is finally embracing his leadership. But more importantly, the ref scandals. Seeing the Mavs get screwed analogous to the Suns really generated empathy in me. And may have been the spark that caused him to cast aside is vaginal tendencies and grow a sac. Something also about his mistress story was endearing. In an ugly, but endearing way.

So yes, I'm now a Dirk supporter. He's also bitchin to have on a fantasy team, steppin up with the defensive numbers, rebs, stls, and blks.

As for Nash, the 04-05 MVP was fine. He revived Suns basketball. The travesty was Kevin Garnett not winning the 07-08 for doing the same thing. But the 05-06 MVP probably should have been Kobe. But you know, rape and all that still fresh on the mind.

Anonymous Arlen said...
*insert 5 page response from Yams*


Anyways, I'm a huge Nash fan, I'm even from his highschool etc. But man, you are getting a bit of the nash-bum-breath this season no? :-) Although I recognize it is mainly because of everyone who will auto-purchase the Simmons "nash was made by dantoni" argument

But I will say it: Nash' MVPs were purely racist. As in, everyone who bashed them was just being a dumb racist. If his name and face was Chris Paul with those stats, no one would mind.
But, and you have pointed this out before so don't forget it, they were Pointist (or some word like that). If he had 19ppg instead of 16, ppl wouldn't say so much. WTF, 3 ppg? If he had 21-23ppg, ppl would agree pretty whole-heartedly. As in, if he had stephon marbury's stats he would be less bashed, even though the whole thing that makes him good is his anti-stephon stats.

My main 2 Nash points:
1) He would make any team better, and any team would kill to have him (if smart). Even if a team has Chris Paul, Tony Parker, whomever, they woudl kill to have Nash. Because Nash 'gets it' and wouldn't make a stupid storm if he has to play fiddle next to Paul's rock guitar. He isn't stupid, and would fit into any organization even at his own sacrifice (or so it seems so far in his career)
2) His teams are just fun to watch, whether its SSOL or not. No matter if he gets an mvp or not, he will make you want to watch basketball games. Just like Kobe. Which is why I can stand kobe "trade me bitches, oh wait no now give me mvp"

And BTW, as soon as I saw the 'Dirk Flex' move, I *knew* it was going to be on bawful. Perfect pic.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Paul -- If you check the archives, I participated in Kobe Appreciation Day last year and wrote a post to that effect.

Also, and for some reason nobody got this, last year's "Daily Kobe" entries were a tacit admission that Kobe was playing the best ball of his career and that I had no real reason to criticize him. If you don't believe me, just ask Yams. He and I exchanged several e-mails on the subject.

Jonathan -- Yeah, but I don't count Miami's title because it was fixed.

AnacondaHL -- If you have ANYTHING to add, please, by all means, do so. I threw it together at the last minute this morning because I didn't have the energy to try and splash together WotN.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Paul said: "What I'm saying is... Nash got TWO freaking MVP awards in a ROW.
Don't think he needs you to defend his honor, just sayin..."


One of my point was that those MVPs have actually worked against him in a historical sense, because they have been used as Exhibits A and B in the case of Nash is Overrated and Stole Two MVPs.

Anonymous Gergely said...
Great post, couldn't agree more. It's the perception which polarized the way people look at these two white guys: one is the racist and one is the counter-racist view. But it should not be what we talk about in these cases. Both are fantastic players without on- or off the court antics and with good sportsmanship written all over them. I hope that this year will be different for them and one of them wins something. But I'm realistic and I know they won't. It's a shame, but then I'll go with: NASH 4 MVP! :-)

Blogger Hilary said...
Great idea!

Off to write "I Heart Steve Nash" on my Trapper Keeper.

Blogger Evil Ted said...
Peyton Manning sucks.
Just kidding.

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Few other things:

Dirk's 29 point 4th quarter went completely unreported by the media. (40 against Utah earlier this season).

Nash was on PTI, you can hear it on espnradio. When asked if he felt bad for D'Antoni in NY at 1-9, Nash replied that it would be okay with LeBron and the number one pick next year. High comedy all around. Later, we're reminded that Utah owns NY's 2010 from the Tom Gugliotta trade on '04 (lol) and that LeBron is, in fact, not fully mentally retarded. Unless Nike pays enough to offset the taxes and expenses of NY vs elsewhere.

Leandro Barbosa, on the differences between D'Antoni amd Gentry: "Gentry works a lot on defense. D'Antoni never worked on the defense."

NO. YOU DON'T SAY!

Evil Ted: CUT THAT MEAT

Anonymous the Oden Apologist said...
Btw - Why hasn't mark cuban or paul allen hired the phx training staff? Keeping Nash and Hill on the court consistently is a minor miracle.

Seems to me it would be worth a couple of mil to keep your players on court.

I think Dallas is for real because Dirk is still in his prime and the other pieces are not playing over their heads. For Nash to keep up his MVP play for the whole season really would be unprecedented at his age. Also does anyone really think Frye, Lopez and Amare could outplay Odom, Gasol and Bynum enough to win a 7 game series. Lakers may be bored, but hard to see how they are not the best in the west.

Blogger chris said...
Trapper Keeper? Me, I think it's time to get my LA Gear shoes autographed!

:p

OpenID NarSARSsist said...
A couple of bawful notes about yesterday:

Eddy Curry made his season debut yesterday with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers, and 4 fouls. I would like to point out the most important statistic, however: The Knicks are 1-9 without Curry, and 1-0 with Curry. Let's see Dirk, Nash, Kobe, and Lebron try to top that! Clearly the voters need to revise their MVP rankings.

Danny Granger dropped a season-high 33 on the Knicks in that loss. C.J. Watson (19), Al Horford (25), Mike Bibby (19), Josh Smith (22), Andre Kirilenko (23), Emeka Okafor (24), Lou Williams (27), Thaddeus Young (25), Andre Iguodala (32), Raymond Felton (22), and Jermaine O'Neal (22) are the others that have dropped season highs on the Knicks (only looking at guys that have scored 19 or more). Looking at that list carefully, they managed to not only pull off giving up a triple whammy once, but twice!

Fourth Quarter Collapses: The tired Pacers were outscored 17-34 in the 4th to lose by 7 (down by as much as 9) in the second game of their back to back. The tired Crabbies were outscored 19-33 to lose by 17 (down by as much as 20) in the second game of their back to back. The tired Raptors were outscored 16-26 to lose by 13 (down as much as 16). The tired Pistons were outs--wait what? The fresh Blazers were outscored 17-31 in the 4th to win by 6 (up by as little as 1 near the end) at home. Not taking advantage of opponent fail. The untired timberpuppies were outscored 17-29 in the 4th to lose by 13.

Rafer "Skip To My Lou" Alston shot 1/10 from the field, making him 3/22 in the past two games (0/7 from downtown). On the positive side, at least he only had 6 turnovers combined in those two games.

Fun Fact: Despite having played 45 minutes and scored 26 points, Steven Jackson's +/- is listed as N/A on ESPN. Apparently Captain Jack is such a born winner his impact cannot be measured in +/-. Similarly, Vladmir Radmanovic was so high in space that the space cadet's impact was also unmeasureable. Raja Bell is, um, Raja Bell, but ESPN also didn't bother measuring his +/-.

Trevor Ariza was 6/19 from the field last night. On the season, he is sub-40% in field goal shooting. His stats are largely the same as last year, just scaled up in playing time, the defense is also still there, but he has gone from an efficient if less impactful shooter to a low efficiency scorer. Someone take his gun away!

Zach Randolph's block totals are just historically bad for a guy that's 6'9". This year, however, he's averaging an amazing 0.45 blocks a game! I suggest we start a Blocked by Zach Randolph watch, starting with the 7 foot Chris Kaman. Maybe it should be a support group instead, as I'm sure it is a very traumatic experience.

Blogger mg said...
Great post.

As a Mavericks fan and a Nash supporter, I am sick of the little-to-none credit this two guys get, while every time LeBron or Kobe fart, they are in the daily Top 10.
They're playing like every game was the last one. They're single-handedly putting their teams at the top of the standings. Partying like it's 2006, baby!

Mavs fans and Suns fans have always appreciated them, and always will. No matter they haven't won a ring yet.

Blogger mouse_matrix said...
dude i think the concussion has made you really soft. First you are saying Nash is great, than you say that Brady is great.. Whats wrong with you..listen to yourself..o.k. maybe Nash is great...and o.k. Brady is great, but you aren't supposed to say it.. i hope you feel better.

Blogger Trev said...
In fairness to Simmons and the "bullshit mvps" I believe he said that Nash should have won instead of Dirk if he hadn't already won the 2 MVP's prior to that. So he really only thinks Nash has one MVP award he doesn't deserve.

Also I agree already having MVP's trophies hurt them both. Just look at what happened at the end of Jordan's career. Jordan on a 69 win team less valuable than Karl Malone on a 64 win team? Really? Good job sports writers. I can guarantee that if the Suns keep it up and Nash keeps kicking ass there will be more than one "Do we really want Nash to have the same # of MVP awards as guys like Bird, Magic and Moses?" Stories flying around. I'm sure Simmons will have at least two in him.

Blogger Don Ebay Mølse said...
Bawful' = a pasty, undefined white guy

As a guy who have had much man-love for Dirk ever since he came into the league, i found this piece very pleasing, as this has been my opinion for quite a while.

I think one of the reasons those two guys are grossly underappriciated also have to do with, that they dont seek out the media-attention/brand-building awareness, that the LeBrons etc. of the league does. I honest to god think they simply dont care about the publicity they get, but just care about playing and winning basketball games.
I know the media like to pick its own heroes, but if Dirk/Nash really wanted to build a superstar brand like the others, they could get all the publicity they wanted. But they dont want to!

ps. I heart Dirk

Blogger toby thane said...
It's about time someone brought this up. It's ridiculous. Nowitzki and Nash have put up impressive numbers for most of their careers, without the star treatment that Kobe, Lebron and Dwyane Wade routinely enjoy. Dirk gets hammered every time he touches the ball and he has a loud-mouthed owner, the referees/front office hates. If anyone even looks at one of those other three sideways, they get a trip to the foul line. And if for some strange reason a ref makes the right call on one of these goons, they go crazy a la Lebron last night vs. the Wizards. And the defense issue? That's another joke. Since when have the Chosen Three ever played consistently solid defense? Just because a routine steal is followed by an above-average dunk doesn't make the defense any better. Yeah, Lebron gets some good blocks but so does Dirk, he just doesn't look as cool as Lebron does, puffing his cheeks and nostrils and what not, afterwards. I guess appearance counts as much as performance. Maybe Dirk should cover his arms with tattoos? And last year, during the playoffs, viewers were submitted to the endless torture of listening to such mental giants as Charles Barkley, Chris Weber and Kenny Smith criticize Dirk for his statements concerning the Nuggets physical play. Did Kenny or Charles or Chris even listen to what Dirk said? Obviously not. Dirk merely stated what was true. That the Nuggets played very physical defense and because of specific attributes certain Nuggets possessed, were tough to go against. And those three soiled their underpants, whining about some perverse idea of basketball machismo they insisted one must have, in order to dominate the game. Chris Weber, you are a shining example of that fallacy. The reason Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash are underrated and only begrudgingly afforded any title of excellence by non-fans, is specifically because they are white. Because basketball is, in most people's minds, a black man's game.
I remember a couple years ago, a friend stating he considered Dirk Nowitzki an overrated player. This guy doesn't know basketball and never played, so it was easy to dismiss his assessment. But dismissal was easier still because of his flawed reasoning. Dirk's less than graceful drives to the hoop. But that's just the point about guys like Nash, Nowitzki and Larry Bird, for that matter. They were given less in the natural athletic ability department, then guys like Kobe or Lebron, but have risen (did rise in Bird's case) to the top of their profession because of their determination, tenacity and incredible work ethic. Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman despised someone like Bird because he was given less but worked harder and was acknowledged for it. They, on the other hand, were given more, worked less and well, nobody cares about them anymore, which hurts when you have a gigantic, inflated ego.

To conclude my rant, last night's Mavs vs. Spurs game was a perfect example of why I follow the NBA and love the game of basketball. On the other hand, here's a memo to Miami, Cleveland and LA: You can have 'em.

Blogger Edgar said...
yeah, yeah, you want to have Nash impregnate your wife. Enough already.

Seriously, the only people who spread the anti-Nash crap are Simmons-ites, LeBatard and a few other idiots.

Yes, Nash is an incredible player. Has been since college. Yes, he won two MVPs playing in a scheme that ignored defense. Yes, Nash is somewhat of a defensive liability now, but what 30-something point guard isn't? Anyone watch Kidd defend lately? How about Mike Bibby?

You really can't debate the first MVP. Nash earned it. New player comes to a team, improves team win total by over 30 games, leads team to best record in the NBA, leads league in assists, free throw shooting and leads guards in field goal percentage.

Now, the second MVP probably should have gone to your boy Dirk (who was 27 and 9 for the 60+ win Mavs that year), but Nash got it. Tim Duncan might have been a better choice in 06 too. But the problem was -- even though Nash's team regressed a little in the win column, and even though he was second in the NBA in turnovers, the rest of his stats actually improved from his MVP season the year before.

To me, the only legit argument you can make concerning the Nash / Nowitzki MVP's is that Nowitzki should have won two and Nash one. That's it.

Joe Johnson for MVP 09-10!!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Trev said: "In fairness to Simmons and the 'bullshit mvps' I believe he said that Nash should have won instead of Dirk if he hadn't already won the 2 MVP's prior to that. So he really only thinks Nash has one MVP award he doesn't deserve.

Actually, Simmons said that Dirk got his vote in 2007 and Nash was second because Simmons would never give his first-place vote to a defensive liability. Of course, as I've pointed out, he saw no issue with Iverson's 2001 MVP despite the fact that A.I. spent his career getting spanked on defense, which apparently only gets ignored if you're scoring 30 PPG.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
I've always felt way too much was made about Dirk's supposed struggles in the clutch. He failed to come through a few times in nationally televised games and the reputation stuck with him. Not only has he hit more than his share of game winners, buzzer beaters and key baskets at opportune moments but the year Dallas made the finals he literally carried the Mavs on his back through three series, and his clutchness was very much in display when they played the Spurs.

Dirk is a hell of a player and even at this point in his career he still adds a new weapon to his arsenal every off season. As he almost proved against Miami (yes I know how ridiculous that statement is) he can totally win a championship in a team in which he is unquestionably the best player (though it doesn't mean he will). The fact he isn't Michael Jordan when there are 3 seconds left and his team is down 2 shouldn't be held against him.

I think in Dirk's case race does play a part in it. Not nearly as much was ever made about Kevin Garnett's struggles in the clutch, for example.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Truer words have never been spoken. I've been thinking the same thing.

Anonymous Less Inflammatory Name said...
You probably know this NarSARSist, but Raja Bell won't be playing for a long while because he decided to have surgery on his wrist...thus no +/-

Everything else was spot on....I second the Zach Randolph block list.

Blogger abir said...
To be honest, it is the media that makes a big deal of Kobe's ailments. He rarely sits because of injuries (which is often foolish), but it's always the reporters that make a big deal. Kobe's finger still isn't healed and it never will be so it's something that media have forgotten about, same as Nash's back. Lebron, on the other hand, tends to make a big deal about his injuries (like a certain Spaniard in Hollywood) and is extremely cautious about his body, to the point of being a sissy. I'm just sayin' don't call Kobe out on his injuries and the press of those injuries when it's not a big deal to him in the first place.

Blogger Michael Hsu said...
There are 4 players in the league right now that whatever BS shot they throw up I'm afraid/hopeful it will do in.

Kobe
Dirk
Nash
Pierce

I've saw Dirk only play a couple of times on TV, I live in LA, and he makes some of the most ridiculous shots that would have all coaches scratching their head wondering WTF he was thinking.

It's too bad that Nash and Dirk never got back together. They separated and became MVPs, they are very good friends and I would have loved to see them be on the same team after they became MVPs.

Anonymous the Oden Apologist said...
is it race? Or is it that they are both dirty foreigners?

If Nash had played at Duke and Dirk’s name was Keith Van Horn I think this would be a different discussion as well. Neither were McDonald’s AA, neither went to big time universities, hard for the hype machine to catchup.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
MVP votes are always controversial due to the lack of a clear definition and availability of several worth candidates. I think 99%+ of fans want to see the best player recognized, not the best player that also 'looks like them'.

I do have to bust your chops a bit bawful on something in this category though. Despite African Americans representing the majority of NBA players, there are relatively few in the bawful logo. Is this meant to imply that most of the bawfulness comes from the rest of the players?

Blogger Michael Hsu said...
Sorry forgot to add this,

My only problem with Nash is that I think he lacks leadership. He should have told Marion and Amare to get their #$!$# together and that they have a chance to win a championship. They would have even been legends since I believe that PHO has never won a championship. If they could get along I don't think Kerr would have traded for Shaq. The only thing bad you can say about Nash is that he couldn't get his team to get along with each other. Everything else has no foundation.

Most players don't even get that opportunity and money is worthless in the end. Look at all the greats that are being paid little just to be on a team for a contender.

OpenID NarSARSsist said...
While we're at it, what the heck happened to Jason Maxiell? Remember when he was held up as one of the proofs that Joe Dumars is an effin' genius? His 3.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 16 minutes sure are proving the point.

Honestly, I never understood the whole Joe Dumars is a great GM/talent evaluator thing. It's true that they had one very successful stretch, including a championship, and that deserves a lot of kudos, but look at the rest of what he's done. His draft picks are by large busts (except Tayshaun Prince, but also includes the infamous Darko pick, because he was so enamored with his own genius). Of his notable draft picks, Okur didn't stay with the Pistons, and also wasn't that great with them. Prince was great. Darko was a Human Victory Cigar. Jason Maxiell, as pointed out above, isn't doing anything. Rodney Stuckey, the guy Joe Dumars swore up and down would make us forget about Billups, is a low percentage (39%) gunner with 4 assists. Aaron Afflalo was traded with someone for a 2nd round pick.

He had a great coach in Larry Brown who was perfectly suited for coaching his host of outcasts, getting me to enjoy their brand of basketball so much that I declared if the Lakers don't make it through the playoffs, I'd start rooting for them instead (a declaration I would end up regretting because of that embarrassing 2004 Finals). What does he do? He cans the coach that took them to a ring and another 7 game Finals because he wants to prove that he has a bigger penis. The coach he replaced Brown with installs an easy-going brand of basketball great for the regular season (64-18 season with 4 "all-stars"), and beats an absolutely fantastic 8th seed Bucks before nearly getting canned by the Lebronaliers. The next year they nearly lose to the Bulls before getting backdoor swept by the Cavs (observe how the Spurs then proceeded to demolish the Crabbies). It became a ritual every season under Saunders that the players would end the season blame each other, before all collectively pointing the finger at Flip. After growing weary from having a coach for 3 whole years, Dumars then cans Saunders from some fresh blood from within the organization, promoting Michael Curry. After Curry flops (it couldn't be because he traded the other key kog to their championship run, Chauncey Billups, because Dumars is such a genius), he then says "you know what? we need a guy with experience!" and then proceeds to hire perennial assistant coach John Kuester after failing to land more experienced coaches (I wonder if this has anything to do with his personality and history, hmm...).

As far as signings and trades go, he did land almost all of the pieces to the 04 and 05 playoff runs via those two routes. After that though, he proceeded to botch them left and right. He tried to sign Ben Wallace for nearly $50 million (saved by da Bulls), then signed Nazr Mohammed to a 5 year, $30 million deal when Big Ben left (failed). The next season he signed Chauncey Billups to a big contract extension, only to trade him the following season for Allen Iverson (wrecked locker room) and future cap space. Right after acquiring AI, he gives Hamilton, who still has 2 years left on his contract, another 3 year extension for whatever reason. I'm sure that logjam of semi-blackhole shooters back there is infinitely better. Now, there's rumors of him planning to trade Tayshaun Prince. Why not trade Rip Hamilton? Oh yeah, because he has 4 years left on his contract at age 31 (turns 32 in Feb) instead of being an expiring contract...I look forward to a lineup of Charlie V, Hamilton, Gordon, and Stuckey showing us what good ole blue-collar Detroit basketball is all about.

I'm not saying he's a bad GM. His team certainly has seen a lot of success thanks to his early trades and signings. However, Detroit really doesn't qualify as a continuously well-run franchise off of one roster when compared to the Spurs.

Blogger gordon gartrelle said...
Come on fellas, can we please give the whoa is me white guys being persecuted bullshit a rest? To use the term "racism" in this case cheapens the term and insults people who actually have to face real racism.

When you reach the upper echelons of the NBA, negatives are amplified along with the positives: Kobe's a selfish dick, Lebron's an egomaniacal whining non-champ, Nash can't play D, Dirk disappears in big games (Do you remember before the Spurs beat the Pistons in '05? One of the main storylines was questioning whether Duncan needed to come up big in order to solidify himself as a great player...No, really).

Let's be clear here--when it comes to the NBA marketing machine and most mainstream sports media, all of these guys are written about in glowingly positive terms. You're cherrypicking a handful of journalists (esp. Simmons) and treating their preferences as the evidence of some widespread bias. Dirk and Nash get plenty of love. And it wouldn't surprise me if half of all sportswriters considered Nash their favorite NBA player.

But bias is a hell of a thing. In your case, you are hearing primarily the positives of Kobe and Bron; the negatives of Dirk and Nash. Kobe and Bron may get the royal treatment, but people pile plenty of (sometimes unfair) shit onto them--that's the price that comes with seemingly universal mainstream nutriding/adoration.

There were also backlashes against the undeniably great versions of Jordan, Shaq, Jeter, Manning, Brady, Belichick and the Pats. Perhaps Nash fits into this category too, but not Dirk.

Blogger Trev said...
Hmmm I might have to go reread that section, I believe I had been drinking a bit when I read over that chapter.

As for Iverson at first I was with you when looking back at the stats and was thinking Duncan probably should have gotten it. But then I took a look at the Sixers roster that year and anyone capable of getting 56 wins (albeit in a crappy Eastern Conference) with guys like Arron McKie and an ancient Mutombo as your 2nd and 3rd leading scorers probably deserves some type of award.

That being said Simmons love for AI and claims of "it's the system!" with Nash are a bit odd.

Blogger BJ said...
Considering how sport-mad Dallas is, Dirk could be a media megastar. (Aside -- the guy who called in to the radio show comparing Dirk Nowitzki to Tony Romo should have his talking priviledges revoked.)

The sports blowhards who only watch guys like Nash and Nowitzki when required to do so have no interest in putting aside their fantasies about what a hero should be and seeing just what damn good players those two really are. Trouble is, those same blowhards shape public opinion.
-BJ

Blogger Apocalypse34 said...
Seeing as how Dirk and Nash (during his Dallas days) are what got me watching the NBA again and they are my two favorite players in the league, I very much enjoyed reading this post.

As Hellshocked said, people seem to give KG a pass for his in the clutch struggles and bash Dirk for his, even though Dirk has been one of the league's top clutch time scorers for years now. They also seem to think KG is "tough" even though he backs down from everyone that's ever got in his face. Anthony Peeler, Antonio McDyess, and Zaza Pachulia off the top of my head. Dirk on the other hand gets massacred for not giving David West a Shoryuken when West puts his hand on his face.

Blogger Soresu said...
I agree on not wanting to hear about Bron's or Kobe's miniscule injuries.

As a sufferer (yes, I just typed that word) of a recurring back injury, I can attest that it is crippling pain and trying to play ball at an acceptable level anymore is a pipe dream. How Nash is still able to play like this is *gasp* Larry Bird-esque (only in comparison to injury, not skill or accomplishment)

And we're going to sit and converse about a pinky finger, or smacking a wrist on the rim.

Blogger Andrei said...
A couple of things for your amusement. A fantastic Dirty Quote Machine from an article about Brandon Jennings on ESPN

"I'm down-to-earth," Jennings said. "People feel like they can't come talk to me -- 'He's cocky, he's feeling himself' -- I hear it in comments people make, but that's not true."

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?page=Jennings-091119

Also, for the Oden watch. The dude got a foul 11 seconds into last night's game. During the same game I also thought the world might come to an end. Oden was matched up against fellow number one pick Kwame Brown. As the two battled in the post I believed there might be enough bawful in one place to create a bawful black hole that would suck the entire world into it. By the way, Brown scored on Oden on the play.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful - This screed of yours would have had more credit if you'd talked more about the Hawks, the Spurs and the Celtics rather than just chosen to praise Nash and Nowitzki while trashing Kobe and LeBron. The Hawks are, IMO, more impressive this year than either Dallas or Phoenix, and I also think they're more "for real" than either the Mavs or Suns. Meanwhile, there may be real trouble signs for the Celtics and Spurs, who let's face it, are looking far less impressive to begin the year than most people thought they would be, and these warning signs may spell real trouble down the road. The Lakers and Crabs are showing a lot of ill omens as well, but you covered them pretty extensively here.

About Kobe and LeBron, I think that all of us get sick of it always just being about them, especially with the injury reports, but it's a game of stars and they get all the press. I was annoyed watching Sportscenter last night and seeing nothing but LeBron dunks as their recap of a 17 point Crabs loss in which LeBron generally played like crap, just as I am seeing lots of highlights of Kobe scoring 45 in a loss. But I think you're either letting that Simmons article about Nash get to you or you're looking at all the coverage of Nash with biased eyes, because the guy basically has had the basketball world fellating him for the last 5-6 years. Yes, there have been some vocal detractors, but hello, wouldn't you say the same thing about Kobe and LeBron?

It seems like in spite of the fact that Kobe got ripped apart regularly for the blowout loss to the Suns in Game 7 a few years ago and the evisceration at the hands of the Celtics in 2008, that for you the hatred wasn't enough; and the same goes for all the crap LeBron took for the sweep against the Spurs in 2007 and the way the Magic took his team apart last year. These guys did get pretty well questioned and trashed after their failures, just as any sports stars do with today's coverage. My guess is that you dismissed a lot of the trashing because you simply agreed with it, while instead focusing on the people who still defended these players. I would wager the same thing has happened with you in reverse with Nash, and to a lesser extent, Dirk.

No offense, but this whole entry today came across as pretty whiny. Imagine how you'd have felt if you'd read a similar rant from me about how Kobe isn't appreciated enough. These guys you're talking about all have MVPs, they all have successes and failures, they all have many, many All Star selections, and All NBA selections, they all have vocal supporters and detractors. I'm not really sure what your beef is here. The beauty of sports is that these athletes don't need people like us to decide which player or team is the best - they're going to figure that out for us when one of them is left hoisting the trophy at the end of the year. But you need to keep in mind that it's still just November and every year teams get off to hot or cold starts just to have things go differently as the year goes on. Let's save the "taken for granted" or "not living up to the hype" stuff for at least after the All Star break, if not for next summer.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
NBA's Race 2 MVP has Dirk at 10....

Anonymous DOH said...
Apocalypse34: Damn right, because he actually can give him a Shoryuken
See: here

Also notice the backhanded ww2 reference with the hitlersaw

or just check out the whole bawful gallery
here

Blogger geremy said...
after the miami v. phoenix game earlier this year, wade asked to comment on nash's 4th quarter performance. wade simply replied, and i'm paraphrasing here "that's greatness in action, that's what great players do" or something along those lines. it was good to hear an nba elite say something positive about him like that, when he could have commented on his own short comings in stopping him.

also, do you recall the commercial a couple years back of kidd and carter doing an interview about how jason is so great and they'll never seperate. at the end, the interviewer says "i think that phx is looking to trade so you can play with nash" to carter. carter then looks at kidd and says "bye".

there are instances of appriciation. i sorta recall a poll of who you would most want to be your teammate that nash was near the top of too.

lastly, the real mvp that organizations can cling to is the phoenix suns medical staff that you made mention of. since the days of joe proski that team has been performing miracles just shy of making neil walk, well, walk. can you imagine how badly kevin johnson would have performed on any other team? while he missed his regular season games, he only ever missed two playoff games and he was as injury prone as they come! forgotten nba stars regularly arrive in phoenix only to realize what a benefit true medical help brings. i think it is a major reason why nash and hill chose to stay. it's most certainly a factor in shaq's all-star revival last year. if anyone is underappriciated, it has to be the phx medical team. just my two though...

OpenID NarSARSsist said...
Yams - I only just now followed Truehoop's link to the Sports Radio Interview with Ron Artest.
“Well what happened was…obviously I didn’t know his shoe would come off that’s the first thing conservative reporters. I didn’t know his shoe was gonna come off. I don’t speak to his feet so I don’t know what his feet are thinking, I don’t know what his toes are thinking, I don’t know what he’s thinking. Then his shoe comes off and I’m like okay a shoe is not supposed to be on the basketball court without somebody standing inside of it. So I said alright, I’m just gonna buy me some time. I really didn’t know whose shoe it was, but I said it has to be one of the player’s shoe. As soon as I toss it off the court, not throw into the stands which some people said, it’ll buy me some time. What happens is I come back down, Trevor is trying to put his shoe on and I politely hit a three in his face.”
Aren't we blessed to have such a character to follow?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- You have made me sigh. From the use of "screed" (which could easily apply to your comment, btw), but also in your assistance to read this article through your Kobe-colored glasses. Am I really trashing LeBron and Kobe? Really, Yams, Am I? Can you explain how, exactly, I'm doing that? What, by pointing out that they have, at times, failed...just like every other basketball player who has ever lived. Bill Russell may have won 11 titles in 13 years, but that means he twice failed to win a championship.

No, I am not waging a war against LeBron and Kobe. I am expressing displeasure for the relative perception of the Nash and Nowitzki versus how players such as LeBron and Kobe are regarded. I also mentioned Wade, by the way, but I really felt a two-for-two comparison worked better for the bulk of the post.

But the point I was trying to make is that, for various reasons, people still like throwing darts at Nash and Nowtizki, their MVPs, their lack of titles. As a fan of theirs, I hate that, just like you hated people tossing darts at Kobe not winning w/o Shaq, and you were pretty gleeful (and screed-ful) when the Lakers won last year.

So, no offense, but your comment came across as whiny because it's kissing Steve and Dirk's asses instead of Kobe's.

Well, here: KOBE IS AWESOME. HE ROCKS. HE IS THE BEST.

Better?

BTW -- Regarding the Hawks: To me, the jury is still out. I mean, isn't this the same team that has been Trick or Treat for the past two years? This isn't the first 10-2 streak (or similar) that they've gone on since 2007-08. But they have never sustained it for a full season. If they do this year, then I will give them their due.

Blogger Cortez said...
"Yes, there have been some vocal detractors, but hello, wouldn't you say the same thing about Kobe and LeBron?"

Not really. Overall, people seem to dislike Bryant on a personal level.

As for James, people point out the obvious flaws in his game, while in the same breath saying he will probably be the best player ever.

The points made about Nash (and Dirk) not being held in the high regard as their skills deserve are valid.

"It seems like in spite of the fact that Kobe got ripped apart regularly for the blowout loss to the Suns in Game 7"

For personal reasons (and for not being Jordan). Anyone with a working eye could see he was trying to prove a point by passing those bums the ball to see if they would produce.

...they didn't.

Point proven, for better or worse.

You have people to this day saying Bird was overrated. I told one guy to show me the under appreciated black guy with stats anywhere close to 24/10/6 and 3 rings.

You know what happened next?

*crickets*

"Imagine how you'd have felt if you'd read a similar rant from me about how Kobe isn't appreciated enough."

In an odd way...he isn't.

Blogger Cortez said...
As for the Hawks...

*yawn*

Blogger Clifton said...
@ the Oden Apologist:
"Btw - Why hasn't mark cuban or paul allen hired the phx training staff? Keeping Nash and Hill on the court consistently is a minor miracle."

What about Shaq?? He looked pretty damn healthy all last season, then he gets to Cleveland and he's already burning oil and leaking transmission fluid.

Bawful, I think Nash should extend you an invitation to his courtside towel fort one of these nights. :-)

Anonymous Al James said...
I remember watching the Suns-Mavs play a game a few years back on ESPN. The color commentator for the game was Bill Walton who, after an impressive Nash drive and layup, pointed out how impressive Nash is because he is able to compete with players significantly more athletic than himself. However, the reason why Nash was able to pull of these fancy drives is because he was quicker than his defenders. Curious.
On a completely different note, during the Pistons-Trailblazers game on Fox Sports Detroit last night, commentator Greg Kelser said of Will Bynum: "Bynum is going to get his penetration, no matter what defensive position you are in." heehee

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Cortez -- I see you got what I was trying to say...and said it better and with far fewer words.

By the way, how's the rehab going? Ready for some ball? Or, hell, we can even just get a beer and chat basketball.

Blogger Cortez said...
"The color commentator for the game was Bill Walton who, after an impressive Nash drive and layup, pointed out how impressive Nash is because he is able to compete with players significantly more athletic than himself."

That's true.

"However, the reason why Nash was able to pull of these fancy drives is because he was quicker than his defenders"

That's not true, although I get why you are making this common mistake.

Nash is "quicker" because his skill level has been honed to a degree whereas he has very little wasted motion in his moves, his ball handling skills are beyond superb and he knows how to read his defenders position so that he know what reaction they can and can't make at a very high rate.

Bill Walton was/is right. If you ran a combine like test measuring raw speed & strength, Nash would be in the middle of the pack, if not lower.

Anonymous Shayan said...
This is one of the greatest posts I've ever read. Thank you for this. I've been trying to tell my friends how GREAT Nash and Nowitzki is, and everything you wrote here echoes that sentiment. I DO go crazy about a Nash bounce pass or a rainbow Nowitzki jumper. Seriously, thanks for this post.

Anonymous Basketbawsome said...
They're not taken for granted at all. See the 3 undeserved MVP's between them. They're good players who have choked when it matters. See Dirk in 2006 finals. And yes, he did choke, MVP's don't go out like that. And Nash is a good player as well, but he always gets outplayed when it matters as well. See Tony Parker in every Spurs match-up. Lastly, no one wants to see bounce passes and rainbow jumpers, that's lame, if people wanted to see that, then the WNBA wouldn't have flopped. People don't want to see lay-ups. That's lame. People pay to see dunks, crossovers, and spike blocks. Steve and Nash are good players with boring games and undeserved MVP's. The fact that Nash has more MVP's than Kobe and LeBron is a joke. It really is. Kobe and LeBron impacts far outweighs Nash's and he's got more MVP's. Steve and Dirk are guys who win but don't really win. They beat the teams they're supposed to beat and lose to the big dogs. They win a lot of meaningless regular season games and fail to deliver when it matters.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Basketbawsome --

Please tell me you're just trolling here. This myth that "MVPs" always come through in the clutch is such a joke. How did Lebron come through while he was getting swept by the Spurs in 2007? Or losing in 5 games to the Magic last year after winning 66?

What about Kobe deciding in a game 7 against the Suns to prove a point about how crappy his teammates were rather than trying to win the game? What about the 2004 finals? Or getting embarassed in game 6 of the 2008 finals?

I don't mean it as a knock on those guys, but everyone comes up short on the big stage at some point. Dirk looked pretty clutch converting a 3 point play against the Spurs in 2006 in the final seconds of a game 7 to send the game into OT (where they won).

Bawful- couldn't agree more. It's not that these guys are as good or better than Kobe/Lebron/Duncan, but that they're never even mentioned in the same sentence. I may hate the Kobe-MJ argument, but he's at least earned the right to be mentioned in the same sentence (even if that sentence reads "MJ was still a better basketball player than Kobe"). These guys have at least earned the right to be mentioned with the recent greats, even if they may not be quite at their level over the course of their careers.

Blogger Joe said...
"Steve and Dirk are guys who win but don't really win. They beat the teams they're supposed to beat and lose to the big dogs. They win a lot of meaningless regular season games and fail to deliver when it matters."

Oh, you mean kinda like how Lebron hasn't won anything yet? Or how Kobe quit on his team in consecutive postseasons before a lopsided trade got him into the Finals? Dirk and Nash are great players, anyone who knows anything about basketball can see that. Hating on them makes about as much sense as hating on Reggie Miller, who has a far less impressive resume as either Dirk or Nash yet maintains a reputation as a cold-blooded assassin. Nash and Nowitzki might not have any rings, but they are deserving of their MVPs and are two of the greatest to play the game, there is no doubt about it.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful - You missed what I was saying. I'm not asking for Kobe or LeBron to get any more praise or less criticism than they have or they do. All these guys, Kobe, LeBron, Dirk, Nash, etc, they all get alternately over-praised and over-criticized. You, me, everyone else, we all look at the game with our own biases, and as such we agree/disagree with some over-praising and agree/disagree with some over-criticizing. People are always going to see certain players (hell, most players or even all players) in such a way, and there's nothing any of us can ever do about it, nor should we really want to. And therein lies my problem with this entry.

For whatever reason, it seems to really, really bother you that people don't think as highly of Nash as you do, and you're really on this crusade lately to try to make everyone agree with you. Whether you're right or wrong is ultimately neither provable nor really relevant. In the end, who cares? Nash will have his place in history just as Kobe, LeBron and every other NBA star will and has. Some people give more weight to winning championships than you do as a way to measure how good a player is, and you know what? It's fine for everyone to have their own criteria for how they decide how good a player is or not. It's also fine if that criteria is fluid and dynamic.

I say all this as someone who was once (and many would argue still is) this kind of person with regard to Kobe, and wanting everyone to realize how great he was and to stop always criticizing him. But I realized as time went along that he wasn't as great as I thought he was, and my insistence on his greatness was probably due in large part to pushing back against all the criticism he got. I also realized that some people are going to love him no matter what, and some people are going to hate him no matter what, and really it doesn't matter. I have my own personal dislike for LeBron, Nash and Dirk just because they don't play for my team, and currently represent impediments to more Laker championships, so I root for them to fail, and I root for their teams to implode. But at the same time, as a basketball fan I do recognize how incredibly talented each of them is, and it's why I focus on what they're doing more than what someone like JJ Hickson is doing. When their careers are over, I'll praise them to the rafters, but for now I'm quite content every time I see the label "failure" applied to each and every one of them due to the fact that they've never won a title :)

You know I have huge respect for your knowledge as an NBA fan and for the work you do here and elsewhere. I just don't think you need to let all the overhype of the media or rampant fandom (or both, in Bill Simmons' case) get you so worked up. Stern and the officials notwithstanding, these players and teams will show us what's what on the court this season.

Blogger Cortez said...
"Oh, you mean kinda like how Lebron hasn't won anything yet?"

You're mistaken! King Crab destroyed the league en route to his 5 consecutive championship.

"Or how Kobe quit on his team in consecutive postseasons before a lopsided trade got him into the Finals?"

Nuh-uh! The Mamba does nothing but WIN with lesser talent. Carrying bums to glory by the sheer will of every ill-conceived shot attempt!

"Hating on them makes about as much sense as hating on Reggie Miller, who has a far less impressive resume as either Dirk or Nash yet maintains a reputation as a cold-blooded assassin."

You forget...he's black...sort of!

If he was white he would be Kelly Tripucka. Just another average bum who failed to win.

"Please tell me you're just trolling here."

Let's just say that he was joking and end it, shall we?

Anonymous Shrugz said...
it's funny to see people point to the PLAYOFFS when the MVP is concerned
the MVP is awarded to the best player of the REGULAR season
I repeat regular season!!
there's another mvp FINALS MVP
GAWD
I'm done

Blogger jim said...
Bawful: I find it amusing that Nash is such a polarizing figure, when his personality is so benign. It's hard for me to make the argument that he's underappreciated by the media, though, in light of the fact that his name has consistently been in the public consciousness as one of the defining players of the past five years. Even Chris Paul, who is arguably the most dominant PG in the game right now (well, not RIGHT now, as he's out with injury), seems to fade into Nash's shadow as long as he's not putting up some absurd stat line and getting some buzz for that. Same sort of thing for Billups and Williams--every so often you'll get a bit of a stir about them, about some very clutch performance, but then outside their own markets they disappear almost entirely until their next extraordinary game surfaces.

And I'm not saying that Nash doesn't deserve to be one of the faces of the NBA these days, because he does, but that for every Nash-basher out there, there's a dozen other writers who love him. And all of them, whether they criticize him or not, are paying attention to what he is doing. And what he did, over the past five years.


Where I would argue Nash doesn't get a lot of love is on the court (though that seems to be starting to change, finally). I don't support phantom superstar calls by any means, but sometimes it's unbelievable to watch how often Nash gets hit and the whistle stays silent. Yes, refs need to let the players play, but Nash bails them out of plenty of missed fouls because he keeps his balance and keeps his dribble alive.

That sounds like a really whiny argument to make, I know, but I think the fact that Nash plays so low to the court and moves so well laterally makes it less obvious when defenders are pushing him around.

I'm not arguing that players like Wade, Kobe, Lebron, etc., aren't subject to all sorts of crazy contact, too, but that with the ball in their hands they seem much more likely to draw fouls on the perimeter or driving toward the hoop. Nash doesn't take it to the rim often, but if he got half of the riding-him-to-the-basket calls that Wade does, he'd shoot a lot more free throws.

Again, that seems nitpicky and subjective, but it's really the only place where I see that Nash's style of play--and his skill set--are underacknowledged.

Oh, yes, and the injury thing, too, for sure.

Cortez: "Nash is "quicker" because his skill level has been honed to a degree whereas he has very little wasted motion in his moves, his ball handling skills are beyond superb and he knows how to read his defenders position so that he know what reaction they can and can't make at a very high rate."

Yes. Exactly. I don't think anyone can argue that Nash is unathletic--he has, essentially, the perfect package of skills for the point guard position--but that his athleticism isn't of the explosive, vertical kind. He moves laterally very well and has a quick first step and shot release, but not that extra gear of speed that other quick PGs like Parker and Rondo have. Nash's quickness is directly a result of his handles and his ability to pass or shoot without giving away what he's going to do. He's like a great fastball pitcher, blowing pitches by you at 98 and then tossing 70mph changeups the next, all with the same delivery. You can't often read what he's going to do before he does it, which gives him the space he needs to make a play.

Anonymous tabman said...
'Bawful, I really enjoyed this post. not because of the Nash lovefest, which you do quite often, but because you finally gave Nowitzki some props. Prior to this post i lumped you with the rest of the many misguided commentators and media outlets regarding Nowitzki. Those who endlessly (and wrongly) repeat how unclutch he is, how soft he is, how he disappears in big games.

Dirk has been one of the best players in the league (top 10 for sure, top 5 arguable), in the regular season and the playoffs, for years now. And he has also been among the more clutch players in the league in both the season and the postseason for years as well. Just check 82games.com for numbers to back that up. People fixate on the Miami series (in which he still played quite well in about half the games) and the Golden States series while downplaying all of his achievements and general basketball excellence. Dirk is one of 5 players in NBA history to achieve lifetime playoff averages of at least 25 points and 11 rebounds, numbers matched by only Bob Petit, Elgin Baylor, Shaq, and Hakeem. How commentators can still parrot the idea that he doesn't perform in the playoffs is beyond me.

Anyway, it's good to see you give him some props. He's been playing out of his mind so far this season. He even D'ed up Duncan last night in overtime!

Blogger Apocalypse34 said...
Just for kicks, I compiled Dirk's averages for games which Dallas has faced elimination in the playoffs. 18 total games. It goes:

29.1 points on .483 FG%, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1 steal, 1.2 blocks, 1.8 turnovers

If that's not clutch performing when you're team needs you the most I don't know what is.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Anonymous

Please tell me you're just trolling here. This myth that "MVPs" always come through in the clutch is such a joke. How did Lebron come through while he was getting swept by the Spurs in 2007?

LeBron didn't win the MVP that year. Dirk did, and he got bounced in the first round. First round, yeah, you read that right. MVP bounced in the first round. He received his trophy from home. Not in the playoffs.

Or losing in 5 games to the Magic last year after winning 66?

He put on the most dominant performance in the playoffs of any player on both ends of the floor of the past decade. He avg 38 8 8. LeBron has been the most cluth player in the league for the last 3 years. Look it up on 82games.com. Not even close.

I don't mean it as a knock on those guys, but everyone comes up short on the big stage at some point. Dirk looked pretty clutch converting a 3 point play against the Spurs in 2006 in the final seconds of a game 7 to send the game into OT (where they won).

One time, wow. And they would have lost if Manu didn't foul on that 3 pt shot if you remember. The Spurs beat themselves.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Dirk and Nash top 10 players, puhllease, another joke. LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Carmelo, CP3, Howard, Durant, B-Roy, Bosh, and D-Will. I just named 10 players better than both Nash and Dirk. And that's off the top of my head.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
Basketbawsome:

When the K word sabotages his team's chances or chokes or watever the hell it is he did during the biggest game of his career, the one were he could have finally proven all his critics wrong and shown that he can win HIS way (Game 7 against the Suns) it isnt is fault, it was due to his lack of teammates. When Boston "swept" LA in 6 games it is, once more, through no fault of K's own but because Pau Gasol is soft. Whenever the Mavs lose, it is all due to Dirk's lack of clutchness and the fact he can't lead a team to victory, isn't a genuine superstar, etc etc.

I don't think Mr. Bawful was doing anything with today's post other than pointing out that there tends to be a double standard when it comes to these two players for whatever reason (xenophobia? skin color? games that aren't aesthetically pleasing? personalities?). Even when they get props there is usually a but, said or unsaid, in the complement.
Fair criticism is one thing, but to say Dirk is a habitual choker who can't get a clutch basket to save his life is a complete and utter fabrication.

As for Parker routinely outplaying Nash...come on. Parker torches him on defense, yes, but Nash at worst plays him even. He's the only Sun who consistently rises to the challenge of playing San Antonio.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Nice numbers for Dirk, all in losses i'm sure. What's their record in those games.

Anonymous basktebawsome said...
Nash and Dirk can't play defense. You don't seem to understand that there are two facets of the game, offense and defense. When you continually get torched on one end, it almost cancels out whatever you do on the other end. Who cares if you score 40 but the guy you're guarding scores 30.

I will admit Dirk and Nash have gotten better in the cluth, but only after about 100 hundred failures. Dirk finally put it together after 10 season or whatever it was. Same with Nash. If they would have figured it out 4 season ago, it would have mattered.

Even this year, the Suns beat a bunch of nobodies and lost to the only two teams that matter, the Lakers and the Magic. It would have been more impressive if they beat those guys and been 5th in the west.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
basketbawesome = fucking idiot and missed the point of the article and all other comments.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Dirk and Nash top 10 players, puhllease, another joke. LeBron, Wade, Kobe, Carmelo, CP3, Howard, Durant, B-Roy, Bosh, and D-Will. I just named 10 players better than both Nash and Dirk. And that's off the top of my head.

There must be something seriously wrong with the top of your head.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
basketbawsome is just one of those guys who doesnt get it, aka the same guys bawful was writing about.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
By all means give your top 10 players within the next 5 min so I can criticize your picks.

Anonymous Gabe said...
Thank you! Awesome rant, Nash and Dirk have been getting disrespected for years. For their respective athletic abilities, they are as tough and skilled as anyone in the NBA. Dirk plays with severely sprained ankles often like its nothing and Nash has that back condition. And it goes without saying how extraordinary their skill level is. They're not great at defense, but how many NBA players are? Maybe 10% of them. Just cuz they don't have 40 inch verticals, people don't give them the love they deserve.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@ basktebawesome

"Howard, Durant, B-Roy, Bosh, and D-Will"

Um, no. Not even close to top 10.

Try again.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Anonymous

That's all you have. That's it. I counter you with stats and facts, and all you can say is that.

I would have defended Kobe but his resume speaks for itself.

And those top ten players can play defense when it matters in the playoffs. No one tries in the regular season. Nash and Dirk couldn't guard me in a wheelchair blind with no hands.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Question: how well do you think a team with both Kobe and LeBron on it would fare? What if you gave them, I dunno, say Antawn Jamison as a third teammate. Think they'd be able to win more than one playoff game together? Just asking.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Anonymous

Ohh and that comment about me being a fucking idiot, I won't stoop to your level of personal insults. Just makes your argument weaker.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Thank you WIld Yams, finally. If Mike Bibby, Mike Bibby, can drop 36 on you, you're not great. That should be a rule. Mike Bibby. I'm sure there are hundreds of these stats where avg to mediocre players have career nights versus Nash and Dirk.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
LeBron is the best offensive and defensive player in the league. I mean Howard and Garnett have better stats defensively, but LeBron is more versatile and can guard more players.

And comparing Kobe and LeBron with Dirk and Nash, that's insulting.

Anonymous stormin Lormin said...
Hey Bawsome, klick this and scroll down to defensive rating and defensive win shares.
After that, i have the utmost confidence in you to give your vote for DPOY to Dirk. Right?

Blogger Cortez said...
"Question: how well do you think a team with both Kobe and LeBron on it would fare? What if you gave them, I dunno, say Antawn Jamison as a third teammate."

Unless you put them on a team with 9 midgets they would have to purposely attempt to lose.

There would not have been a better 1-2 combo in the history of basketball, period. And Jamison is pretty nifty as well.

If you thought the Celtics performed well with Allen/Pierce/Garnett this would be so far beyond that you would have to kill yourself from basketball overdose.

"Nash and Dirk couldn't guard me in a wheelchair blind with no hands."

They would simply push your wheelchair back into the parking lot of the mental hospital you obviously escaped from.

"There must be something seriously wrong with the top of your head."

Pow! Zing!

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Basketbawsome -- I appreciate open conversation around these parts, but do me a favor and try to organize your thoughts into single comments? Otherwise, I'm going to start not publishing them.

Having actual points other than restating the same thing would help too.

Anonymous Basktebawsome said...
Oh wow, your sample size is 10 games. Using your logic, Brandon Jennings is the best pg in the NBA.

Blogger Cortez said...
"If Mike Bibby, Mike Bibby, can drop 36 on you, you're not great"

Yep, Mike Bibby is average. Got it.

"Just makes your argument weaker."

Or validates his observation skills. You're a bit touched champ.

"LeBron is the best offensive and defensive player in the league."

Jesus Fucking Christ!

That's it I'm headed home.

As for that beer, I'll drop you a line later.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Yams -- Huh. If you had Shaq and Kobe on the same team, would they ever get swept out of a playoff series? It happened. If you had them both at or close to their best, would they EVER lose a playoff series? It happened.

Do you really want to get into the "would a team lose if...?" argument? Really?

Anonymous Matt said...
Basketbawsome- can you just go spank yourself to 50 cent and Snoop Dogg rather than infect this blog with your bull shit.

Yerr boi, ya fell me? Holla. Silly little ****.

has it been mentioned that Dirk is the only 7 footer to ever be given the ball at 20 feet in crunch time and be asked to win the game?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
basketbawsome:
"Ohh and that comment about me being a fucking idiot, I won't stoop to your level of personal insults. Just makes your argument weaker."

my argument is that youre a fucking idiot. you just made it stronger. but i won't stoop to your level of idiocy.

@wild yams:
good point, but seriously, look at the starting lineup for fuck's sake! antoine "the shimmy" walker at center? muggsy bogues would have a field day in the paint. i think that the context of that box score isn't totally relevant 5 years later. both dirk and nash obviously improved after that year(dirk moreso on the defensive side of the ball...if you watch a mavs game, you'll see dirk contesting perimeter shots, using that strip move down low (could have sworn he did it to kobe a couple weeks ago on a 2-on-1), and has greatly improved his effort overall. he's gone from a truly atrocious defender to about average, and isnt that enough if youre stellar offensively, and asked to carry your team night in and night out on offense?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yams -

And really, this was before Dirk and Nash became the players they are today. Anyone who's watched them since they got separated as BFFs can see how much better they've gotten being apart.

If we'd be doing that comparison, it'd be like 1999 Kobe and 2005 LeBron being on the same team, instead of 2009 Kobe and Lebron which obviously changes the equation a fair amount since neither of those guys really played much D back in the day, either.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Mr. Bawful - Well nobody is invincible. No team ever went undefeated every year, not Russell's Celtics, not Jordan's Bulls, not Magic & Kareem's Lakers. But all those teams did win some of the time, as did Shaq and Kobe's Lakers (and Shaq's Heat and Kobe's Lakers w/o Shaq). Sure, the Lakers w/ Shaq and Kobe got swept twice when Kobe was a teenager, but even those teams managed to get more than one playoff win before that happened.

The point is, we don't need to get into a "what if" argument with Dirk and Nash, because they were teammates for six seasons together, and the results from those six seasons are, well let's just say they're less than impressive. In all that time they won a total of 19 playoff games, with 10 of those wins coming in the 2003 playoffs. Other than that one year though, the best they ever did together was lose 4-1 in the second round. In Kobe and Shaq's first six seasons together they won three championships. So there's no need to wonder "what if" when it comes to those duos.

As many have said, Nash and Dirk have been lauded plenty. All the All NBA selections and MVP awards and all that are proof that they're well thought of in this league and will both almost surely be first ballot Hall of Famers. But if you're wondering why they don't get as much press or attention as Kobe and LeBron, well maybe there's a reason for it. But as I said above: who cares? ESPN and sports talk radio are drawn to big personalities and big stories, and big dunks as highlights. I have a feeling that Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki are doing just fine without being generally thought of as the greatest players of this era. But saying they're overlooked in some way is really not correct, IMO.

Anonymous - In 2004 Nash was in his 8th year in the league and Dirk was in his 6th year. So I guess the better comparison would be like Kobe in 2004 and LeBron last year. Or if you want to go by age, in 2004 Dirk was 26 and Nash was 30, so that would be like Kobe last year and LeBron this year. So you can see it doesn't really change the equation at all, wouldn't you agree? Also, doesn't it say a lot that both Nash and Dirk did in fact get better when they weren't playing together? Doesn't sound like a compelling argument for their greatness to me.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
Basketbawsome:

How can you shit on Nash and Dirk for being inferior defender and then include such notable matadors as Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard? There's that double standard again. These guys are just as bad if not worse. Howard may be the reigning defensive player of the year but that says more about the voters than it does about his skill. He is a lazy one on one defender with atrocious footwork whose shotblocking eagerness often leaves im out of position and who has a penchant for being faked off his feet. And Lebron James the league's best defender? Because he gets a few Tayshaun Prince blocks a year? Please. Last year was the first time in his entire career he managed to become an average defender. He has a long way to go in order to become a great one.

word verification: "coughs", as in what I did when I read that Lebron is the league's best and most versatile defender, spraying orange juice all over my keyboard

Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...
If I may suggest an alternative narrative:

Upthread poster basketbawsome is a dumb person, but he said something that I think is pertinent to this debate, which is that "no one wants to see rainbow jumpers." Well, I disagree with that, but more importantly I think it casts some light on a certain mentality people have with regards to sports in general, which is: there's a "right" and a "wrong" way to play the game. Certain types of play are deemed to be acceptable (Lebron's tomahawk dunks, KG slamming it in off the alley-oop) and other types are not (Dirk taking a fadeaway, Nash hitting a layup in crazy traffic). It's interesting to me how people like that react to, say, Tim Duncan; on the one hand, he's got a pretty boring game, on the other hand, that game has netted him 4 titles. And it also ignores the fact that a lot of the game of acknowledged greats like Kobe and Lebron consists of that same arsenal: step-back jumpers, fadeaways against defense, etc. For every basket Kobe makes that's a showy dunk, he makes many more of the second type. Those are just as cool, and whether or not you like Kobe, you can't help but admire his play when he pulls those off.

I think it's just good for people to recognize that there are many legitimate ways to play, and that in the end, points are points. You don't get retroactive stat boosts for appearing on a highlight reel. At the end of the day, when they do the tally of the great players of this era, guys like Duncan, Dirk, KG, Kobe, Lebron, Nash, Carmelo, and a few others are going to be among them; there's nothing wrong with recognizing both the shortcomings and excellence of each of those players and one's glory need not come at the expense of the others'.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
Yams:

I don't see how Dirk and Nash getting better when they weren't playing together (never mind the fact that there is absolutely no indication they wouldn't have gotten better at the same rate if they had continued as teammates) speaks against their greatness. They were asked to do more and happily complied. Didn't Kobe's best seasons, statistically, take place AFTER Shaq left LA? If they hadn't improved people would be saying they aren't great players and relied on eachother for their individual success. It's a no win situation.

Blogger chris said...
Jerry Vinokurov:

You know, I can see that in other sports too:

- in hockey, "grittier" players tend to get certain heaps of praise over flashy, skilled skaters who are "soft"

- in auto racing, the oft-remembered drivers are rarely the consistent champions, but rather the mercurial talents who may or may have not put a string of season-long success together (case in point: Gilles Villeneuve)

- in snooker, the British billiard sport, the flashy yet rollercoaster career of Ronnie O'Sullivan stands out in the public eye, much as it did for predecessor (but never world champ) Jimmy White - while Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry were dominating and taking home trophies on a constant basis for years

Really though, results are results, right? But fan interest or preference sometimes has little to do with those raw numbers.

It also may explain why the Canswer thinks so highly of himself and his one big playoff run, even now.

Blogger Wild Yams said...
Hellshocked - I think it's really a stretch to say Kobe's had better seasons since Shaq left, statistically speaking. His scoring average has gone up, but for instance, in 2003 he averaged 30 ppg, 6 assists and 7 boards a game alongside Shaq, so I don't know if you can that categorically he's improved his stats a great deal w/o Shaq there. Shaq, as well, had by far his best season statistically alongside Kobe, in 2000. In any event, I think that both players won 3 titles together and then have each won a title apiece without each other shows that were great individual players who benefitted from being teamed together.

What speaks most about Nash & Dirk's time together though isn't their individual stats (which is why I didn't even talk about those above), but the fact that their teams didn't perform well when they were together. Generally when you put great players on the same team together, they tend to do well. Yet here you had Dirk and Nash, two guys who were definitely in their primes together, and who later went on to win (to date) three combined MVP awards. And yet as teammates they had almost no success at all. And that was even true when they were paired with other All Star players like Antawn Jamison and Michael Finley (who were both also in their primes at the time). So what gives? That foursome together in 2004 managed just one playoff win. Am I wrong to question what happened there?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Hellshocked -

Not to mention that you see the same thing happen all the time with great players. Pippen improved exponentially when Jordan first retired, Yao was incredible last year after T-Mac went down, Magic got better as Kareem became decrepit and retired, Payton got better once Kemp left.

If anything, it's the pretenders who fall apart once they're separated from another star (Kenyon Martin, Shawn Kemp, etc.). The fact that they were able to get better without each other is a plus in my mind.

Besides, the sobriety of their coach during those years has to be called into question.

Blogger Jerry Vinokurov said...
To respond to Yams:

We have the following evidence in front of us:

1) Dirk and Nash won some MVPs after parting. Without taking on the question of whether or not they deserved to win all those awards, let's just assume that the fact that they were in contention means that they were really good players.

2) Dirk and Nash did not succeed as teammates.

I think you're right to question what happened there, but I don't think that the conclusion must be that they are somehow extra flawed. There are lots of other variables including coaches, systems, teammates, etc. Maybe they just weren't that great in playing with each other; does a Nash-Dirk pick & roll work as well as Nash-Amare? One of the original points that Bawful made in his post was that no one really expected a Suns team that looks nothing like a world beater to be doing this well, and yet here they are with a solid opening to the season. Is it going to last? Who knows, the season is long and lots of things can happen. So maybe having all all-star teammates isn't the most important thing, maybe other factors like team cohesion, commitment to gameplan, and so on are more important. In short, there are lots of explanations that don't require us to conclude that they're not great players.

chris:

I think everyone has a right to their own preferred aesthetic. Some people love the Spurs, I can't stand them. I try not to let that influence my assessment of Duncan or Manu (who I think is great, even if I don't like the team he plays for). There's no reason why we can't appreciate various approaches to the game even as we root for our own to prevail.

Blogger Basketbawful said...
And that was even true when they were paired with other All Star players like Antawn Jamison and Michael Finley (who were both also in their primes at the time). So what gives? That foursome together in 2004 managed just one playoff win. Am I wrong to question what happened there?

This isn't the first time you've brought this particular Mavs team up, nor is it the first time I've answered this question, but I'll do it again...

First, the team was terribly poorly coached. Nellie was mailing it in, and he didn't last much longer after that season.

Second, the team was poorly constructed and had little chemistry. Notice that Antawn and Antoine were added to a 60-win team and it won only 52 with them? Notice also that Cuban couldn't get rid of them quickly enough.

And the team had NO depth. Seriously. Effectively, they went six deep, and one of those six, as I mentioned, was Antoine Walker. The starters logged heavy minutes and there were too many guys that needed the ball in their hands a lot to be successful (Jamison, Walker, Finley and Dirk). Check out the box score you linked to and you'll see how much the bench had to contribute.

Also, if you want to talk about Shaq and Kobe's success in their first five years together...why not mention they got swept out of the playoffs in their first two seasons as a duo? The success didn't happen until Phil Jackson was coaching them. Shaq didn't win another until Pat Riley was coaching him. Kobe didn't win another until Phil was coaching him again AND a well-balanced team was constructed for him.

Blogger chris said...
Jerry Vinokurov: Of course, the official Bawful POV regarding styles of play is covered by this WOTD...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Basketbawsome: "Steve and Dirk are guys who win but don't really win. They beat the teams they're supposed to beat and lose to the big dogs."

That's funny. Now Dirk's problem is that his team doesn't beat the big dogs, just takes care of lesser competition. And here I thought the primary things to criticize Dirk about were the 2006 series against Miami and the 2007 series against Golden State---losses to teams they were supposed to beat.

I'm not sure what Dirk was supposed to do in 2006, anyway. Grab a chair and beat the refs with it during game 5 until they stopped sending Wade to the line?

Anonymous AK Dave said...
I'm just posting because I want to see this thread reach 100 posts. We can do it gentlemen!

Also because I really miss the Nash/Van Exel backcourt duo. Defensive liability: yup. Fun as HELL to watch: oh yeah.

Does anyone know why Cuban let Jamison leave?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yeah, I think that a major element missing in this discussion is the coaching. With the Lakers, it's a little misleading, even though they were swept by the Jazz and Spurs early, it was in the WCF and the Second round, respectively, so it's not like they dogged it out there. They couldn't win squat, though, until someone who had a clue came in. However, imagine if Jackson was coaching the Nash-Dirk Mavs. I think that either Nash would be gone, or bumped up to be the 2-guard (in spurts) to do his running thing. If that team couldn't get a ring, I'd been shocked.

As for them not often being in the discussion, it's the media, as it usually is. Elevating Nash and Dirk to Kobe and LeBron is not a big deal in places like a blog, but it is a big deal if you are trying to sell sneakers and jerseys. There is a reason that Bryant and James have the top-selling product in the NBA, because the NBA and its media partners (ESPN and TNT who make a point to put the Lakers and Cavs on at every conceivable moment) dictate it. I don't know why it still works that way, considering how David Stern abandoned the "urban" image after the Malice at the Palace (strangely enough, the five year anniversary is today). But I have a feeling that if the ratings showed racial demographics, there would be a lot more young minority men who watch the NBA than everyone else.

Anonymous FarmerTome said...
I think we're all forgetting the real problem here- Dirk and Nash are both foreigners. Lebron and Kobe are both American, so people naturally like them (although Kobe spent a lot of time in Italy). If there was a great, no good (actually, forget that- just decent) white AMERICAN player, trust me, they would get more than their proper due. Just look at the best White American player ever- Larry Bird. Albeit he was amazing (and incredibly flashy- white people are credited with having good "fundamentals" but Bird didn't try for that- he took shots with reckless abandon, and made behind-the-back passes, and made some of the most amazing plays in NBA history. Sure, he might have had "fundamentals", a term I hate, but the guy played as exciting as any black guy, even if he had the most goofy celebrations ever [i.e. towel wave]. Plus, he was a trash-talker), but the people of Boston (I'm from Mass, but I'm 18, so I never saw him live, just old clips and ESPN Classic) basically still worship him, because he's American, white, and amazing. Basically, the two points I'm trying to make is as follows:
1) Dirk and Nash most likely get overlooked because they're foreign
2)American white guys gotta stop trying to be "fundamentally sound." They gotta be good, and not afraid to make plays. As there are many white people in America, I'm sure this would help the NBA.
Finally, a really bawful opinion:
The player most like Bird since Bird left is.... yep, you guessed it, White Chocolate, also known by his birth name Jason Williams. If you have a better one, let me know.
Note: Please know that I will more than likely argue with you, especially if you say someone like Mike Dunleavey or (ugh!) Adam Morrison.

Anonymous oden apologist said...
@stormin Lormin

the oden apologist would like to point out that the same stats reveal Oden as the best interior defender in the league (#1 in rebound %, block % and defensive rating).

To bad he is also #1 in fouls so he can' stay on floor. But he gets a shit load of garbage calls because of his reputation, which he will need to work hard to shake. That moving screen call against the pistons 11 seconds in last night is just not a foul.
Free oden.

http://www.youtube.com/user/FreeOden52

Blogger michael.c.slate said...
AK Dave - "Does anyone know why Cuban let Jamison leave?"

Well, he didn't exactly let him leave. He traded him to the Wizards for Jerry Stackhouse and Washington's #1, which turned into Devin Harris. This was just before Nash left, which I assume was part of Cuban's plan. Bawful will laugh, but Cuban's thinking made sense at the time which I'm sure will get brought up again in the future.

As Bawful noted, Nellie was a poor defensive coach (back then too). You have to get defensive stops in the playoffs, which the Nellie run Mavs didn't do. When Avery Johnson was brought in (Nash was gone by then), media asked Dirk one time what the biggest difference was. Dirk joked that they actually run defensive drills in practice under Avery.

Yams, just because a team has superstars together on paper doesn't mean they are a good fit. Look at 2004 Team USA for example. The same can be said for that 2004 Mavs team. Jamison was coming off the bench, that was how poorly constructed that team was. It's kinda like chocolate ice cream and a T-Bone steak. GREAT separate, but horrid together.

Blogger mg said...
AK Dave: Jamison was traded for Devin Harris and Jerry Stackhouse.

Anonymous yourmom said...
Well I think the reason why there isn´t such a big hype after ervery good game (and there are many of them) of Nash or Nowitzki or Tim Duncan as well is that they don´t really care about media attention. They aren´t doing hundreds of marketing campaigns like Kobe, King Crab, Shaq or Dwight Howard (see these damn stupid puppets last april/may).

Take for example Nowitzki who went to the Australian outback for a few months after winning MVP or is just working out in Germany "and eating mamas noodles" in the offseason.

Did you ever hear anything from TD, Nash or Dirk in the offseason? They aren´t confiscating tapes where somebody dunked on them. Just working hard and make their game perfect (nashs shooting, handling, dirks shooting, duncans postgame).

Or anything off the court generally? (Expect maybe for that bawful story bout Dirk´s lady last season) They aren´t giving hundreds of interviews where they bash former teammates see Kobe/Shaq.

They are Top Ten players in the league and Top Thirty All Time and I guess every sports journalist will acknowledge that. They just don´t need the media hype like Barkley, Jordan and many others did. And their accomplishments will be honored like Stockton´s and Robinson´s were.

Anonymous Arlen said...
I disagree with everything that was said by everybody on this page.

The best player is AI.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
While I did say there might be some racial bias when it comes to mainstream appreciation of Dirk and Nash, I certainly didn't mean they were persecuted which is why I ammended it to possible xenophobia in my other post. At the same time, it is undeniable that bias exists in the NBA and it swings both ways. Every single white player in the league right now is described as "smart, gritty, high basketball IQ, fundamentally sound, just knows how to play the game", etc. This is a slap to the face to both white players (since it assumes they are inferior and thus have to get by on grit and smarts) and non white players (since the tacit assumption is that they are lazy, unskilled and merely getting by on athleticism). It's why commentators/sportscasters freak the hell out and hyperbolize whenever they see an athletic white guy (someone said Martin Gortat is JUST AS ATHLETIC as Dwight Howard during a live broadcast) and overtly praise an athletic african american player when he makes "the right pass" (see Josh Smith this year). It is somehow understood that these players aren't supposed to be able to do these things.

In the case of Dirk (and Nash to a lesser extent) I think this backfires on him. He has never shed the label of soft european who chokes in the clutch and most likely never will, no matter what he does. I don't think he's the best player in the league or even top 5 necessarily but I do think he gets criticized harder and more unfairly than they do.

Blogger Japes said...
"I disagree with everything that was said by everybody on this page.

The best player is AI."

I disagree with your agreement. I think it should be Zach Randolph. ZOMG, 20-10 every year! He's haxxor! Imagine what would happen if AI and Zbo were teammates!

OpenID NarSARSsist said...
yourmom - While you're very correct in that those guys don't crave media attention, your reasons are very flawed. TD, Dirk, and Nash work on their game, but those hyped guys don't? (Well, okay, Shaq didn't, but I'm not going to bother to defend the Big Fatassness.) What exactly did you hear from Kobe this summer? All he did was work out. The only thing thing I heard was that thus-far-less-useful-than-it-sounded learning the Dream Shake (feel free to correct me on its utility Yams). Is that inherently inferior because he wasn't eating mama's noodles? As for BronBron, as much as I mock him for the video tape confiscation (and I will continue to do so), I find it hard to argue against the event that he was at: his summer camp. Is there something wrong with working with kids? Last I checked, Nash was schooling a misguided Chinese boy foolish enough to sport a Clipper jersey. He was there for promotional and charity work. Would you dock him points for having gone to China with some promotional intentions?

As silly as some of those Most Valuable Puppets commercials were, how are they a knock on the stars they're marketing? Nike sells shoes; Kobe and Lebron help them sell shoes; they all win. Did they need to spend half of the playoffs filming? "Sorry guys, Nike called me in to watch a Puppets show. I'm not too late to sink the game winning shot and steal all of your glory am I? ESPN baby!" Timmy and a bunch of the Spurs do commercials for HEB (for those of you not from around here, it's a supermarket), some of them quite amusing actually. It doesn't make them any better or worse players or people. Sometimes you just want to go make a little extra or get your face on TV; it doesn't decrease Timmy's sainthood for somehow having "stooped so low".

There are plenty of reasons to love the play of Timmy, Nash, and Dirk that don't need me to expound upon. If the media finds those reasons insufficient to hype them, that's their problem/mistake. There is no need, however, to invent reasons to like them and diss guys like Shaq. We have plenty of real reasons already.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
So we're back to blacks are athletic and whites are smart and fundamentally sound?

FarmerTome- great point on the Dirk and Nash are foreigners bit.
Even though Kobe could technically be a foreigner, he played his HS ball in the US. Thus he was privy to the hype machine

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I know this is just my viewpoint, but I don't really divide the four guys you talked about into Kobe/Lebron and Nash/Dirk.

By far, the more awesome pair for my entertainment is Nash and Lebron, mostly because they quite frequently make things of great coolness happen with their passing AND their scoring. The sense that their play can make the group's attacking much more effective (as well as carry them when they can't make a shot) in addition to the team having achieved something really cool that year seem to be what go into MVP voting...

Never been much of a Dirk fan, myself. The guy seems like a horrible leader, getting really down on his team when they don't win. This was impressed on me particularly in his interviews during the Warriors' upset.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
FINALLY!!! Someone giving Dirk his damn rightful due. As a MAVS fan it's always been amazing to me that people do not see the absolute phenomenal player that Dirk Nowitzki is. And there is not a guy who works harder at what he does than Dirk. Although I agree that both Dirk and Nash do not get their due (and Nash SURELY DIDN'T when he was in Dallas), I do believe that Nash does get more accolades than Dirk. The Uberman won MVP and is playing even better now than he did then. He definitely deserves more credit than he will ever get. I guarantee you that Dirk doesn't (and won't) give a damn about any of this if he can lead his team to a championship. THAT is the ultimate goal for Nowitzki. And if the MAVS keep following his lead, why not??
GO MAVS!!
Again....THANKS FOR THE ARTICLE.

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