Since the end of the NBA lockout there have been rumors, trades and free agent signings abounding everywhere. Some have been head scratchers and some have made a lot of sense. Saturday night, there was a head scratcher for the Mavs to say the least.
The Rumors started flying about an hour before the official news broke. Twitter was abuzz with activity while it was still a rumor. Then it became official, Lamar Odom was going to be a Maverick.
While most fans and media types were questioning the move, it has made more sense after taking time to think about it. Lamar Odom will replace the recently departed Tyson Chandler. Admittedly those are big shoes to fill. Only time will tell, but he is a player with “total attitude” and may be a good fit.
Chandler succumbed to the “big bucks” and joined the New York Knicks. Needless to say the move left a big hole in the Mavs back court. I know the Mavs are thinking bringing in Odom will help fill the hole. It is funny to think, last time we saw Odom, he was hacking J. J. Berea during a beat down at American Airlines Center. He will have to sit the first 5 games of this season for the stunt he pulled on his now Mav team mates.
Once he gets on the court and does something positive, I am sure the fans will forgive him. Right now the fans and the Mavs are only interested in a repeat performance of last year’s championship. If Odom can help the championship cause, he will be welcomed with open arms to Dallas.
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Last Sunday night I was able to experience something that I never thought I would see in my life time, and that was the Dallas Mavericks winning an NBA championship. I saw how close it came in 2006 when it was snatched from us by the Miami Heat. But ever since then, it has been a series of first round exits and playoff catastrophes. Until this year, after what looked like the same old song and dance when the Portland series started, turned into something amazing and special during the Lakers series. It has been a full week since that final buzzer sounded in Miami, but the feeling today is just as fresh as it was last week.
In my post game article, I summed it up in one word…Champions, but as the week went on and I really thought about it, it became more fitting. For 31 years this team has gone from the “new kid in town” to an NBA laughing stock, to a consistent 50 win team to now being a champion. For someone like myself who can remember seasons when this team won all of 12 games, and were the butt of every joke. This is such a special feeling that some words can not describe. As a kid in elementary school people would call me crazy for wearing a Mavs shirt or even admitting to being a fan of such a bad team. But they were my hometown team, they were in my city and I cheered and loved them just the same. Now that feeling of elation and joy overwhelms me to the point I have to pinch myself to make sure that I am not dreaming.
There was never anything really special that made this season seem like anything would happen, even the start of the playoffs went about as expected. But then there was the game 4 collapse in Portland and that feeling of not again started to set in. But they were able to over come that and win the series, then came the sweep of the Lakers and all of a sudden I started to think it was going to be a special run in the playoffs. Little did we know that the run would complete itself on a stage in Miami with the trophy being given to former owner Don Carter.
The fact that the Mavericks won the title was awesome enough, but it really hit home when Don Carter was on stage and was the first person to hoist the trophy. As a long time Mavs fan, this was a great sight, and a very awesome gesture from Mark Cuban. Even though most local fans would say that he has been one of the better owners in the area, that gesture alone would catapult him to the top of the list. So, once the game ended, there was no way to know how to act or feel because nobody would have expected this to happen to this team, but it is a reality and now the fans will spend the summer basking in the glow of a championship.
In the 2011 NBA Playoffs we saw the possible end of three dynasties that have won or played multiple championships. The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics all saw their seasons end early and all three teams have aging rosters. While the dynasties of these three franchises may not be dead and gone just yet, they are a lot closer to dying.
The oldest group of players with the most time together is the San Antonio Spurs, and once the team hit the playoffs, you could easily see the age being a factor. And that age was easily exploited by the youthfulness and quickness of the Memphis Grizzlies. But there were more than just the age issues with this team. The core group had trouble staying healthy through out the season. But I will not read the Spurs their last rights just yet. They could possibly be a team to be dealt with next season and they have an age and experience that will help them.
The next dynasty that really looked to hit a wall this playoff season had to be the Boston Celtics, while they did run into a tough Miami Heat team that would eventually play in the NBA Finals. But they just seemed to lose a lot of their steam and showed some age. Am I going to say that the Celtics won’t bounce back next year? Not at all, I just think that their window has reached the end and they will probably start showing decline. But they could have one more strong run in them to make that final statement.
The Los Angeles Lakers were the most surprising team to fall off this playoff run. They were picked to have a strong shot to repeat and everyone thought that when they met the Mavericks, they would ultimately win the series with ease. But they ran into the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks and got swept without so much as a whimper in game four. While the Lakers aren’t really an “old” team, they are a team that has been at the top of the mountain the longest and with a coach retiring and now a new coach coming in. It would look like there may be some question as to whether Kobe can keep this team focused enough to pick themselves off the carpet and try to get back to the top of the mountain.
I am not saying that these teams will be bad next season, but they showed their age this playoffs and they are going to have a harder time getting back to the top. It will be fun to see how these teams bounce back, because there will be added criticism on them starting next year.
Yesterday we had some breaking news during the day that Shaquille O’Neal has finally decided to retire after 19 seasons in the NBA. But he decided to do it via his twitter feed(@Shaq) and it made headlines all over ESPN because he did it in this fashion. While he hasn’t officially turned in his paperwork, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that he is done. He had been struggling with a heel injury this past season and despite his best efforts, he couldn’t ever get well enough to play consistently during the Celtics playoff run.
Coming into the league out of LSU, Shaq already had some people saying he could be one of the greatest centers of all time. And from the beginning he showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with. Throughout his career he proved to be one of the toughest guys to cover in the paint. But off the court, he was very personable and would do anything for some publicity. He had a couple rap albums and a movie that became fodder for opponents to attack him with, but it endeared him to fans.
While he was meant to put Orlando on the NBA map and turn them into a champion, Shaq didn’t taste that first championship until he paired up with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Shaq, Kobe couldn’t share the spotlight with the lovable big man, so he was sent packing and landed in Miami. Where he went on to win another championship with Dwayne Wade.
Shaq was a fun player to watch during the post Michael Jordan era and he showed that he was very deserving of his hype so long ago. Shaq will be able to sit back and enjoy retirement, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he winds up on one of the studio show as an analyst. I am hoping he will end up next to Charles Barkley, that could be a fun set to watch.
Yesterday David Stern handed down the punishment to the Los Angeles Lakers Andrew Bynum for his cheap and dirty shot on JJ Barea in the 4th quarter of game 4. While it seems any kind of suspension and fine would be the right message to send that dirty play will not be tolerated. But at the same time, if the punishment isn’t severe enough then it won’t send the right message.
The elbow into Barea’s ribs while he was airborne was done maliciously, whether or not Bynum will say that, the replay shows it was intentional. He was frustrated because Barea was just driving to the basket at will and nobody on the Lakers could stop him. Bynum was upset because of the immense beating the Lakers were getting and he made it look very clear that he wanted to injure JJ Barea.
The NBA handed down the punishment of the flagrant foul yesterday and as an NBA fan, I am shocked at how light of a punishment this is. But as a Mavericks fan, I am livid about the fact that it is a slap on wrist, for something that could have seriously injured a Mavs player. Bynum will be suspended 5 games and fined $700 thousand. 5 games? are you kidding me??? Every Mavs fan should slighted by David Stern and the NBA.
David Stern might as well have walked up and slapped every fan in the face and laughed, this really feels like Stern is taking his dislike for Mark Cuban out on letting such a heinous foul go by with a small suspension. With as bad as that foul was, anything less than 15 games is too light of a punishment, but only sitting him 5 games is pretty much not punishing him at all. David Stern should feel embarrassed for not punishing this guy properly, all the more reason the NBA needs a new, less partial commissioner.
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