NBA Finals 2011: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks Teach LeBron James, Miami Heat Valuable Lesson

The Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA title in team history with the game six victory 105-95 against the Miami Heat Sunday night in Miami.

When LeBron James decided to join Dwyane Wade in Miami it set the stage for a very interesting experiment. The idea that the best free agents out there all combining to play on the same team and dominating is something that makes sense on paper, it works in the video games so it's got to happen, right? The problem lies in the fact that these things are not taking into consideration the most important aspect of winning something meaningful; being a team.

The Dallas Mavericks proved that to us Sunday night in Miami and this should be enough to jolt the Miami Heat into taking a serious look in the mirror before next season. You’ve heard it since high school that teams have to be united, together, ‘as one’, along with any other cliché you could think of that was most likely uniquely plastered all over every team shirt you had in school, maybe you still even have them.

‘You’re only as strong as your weakest link’ or ‘your opponent got stronger today, what did you do?’ or ‘the team on top of the mountain didn’t fall there’. It’s these sayings along with many others that begin the process of teaching young athletes the type of things that bring teams together.

You’d think that these professionals wouldn’t have that same attitude towards a game because it’s their job after all, right? Wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 38-year old 17-year veteran like Jason Kidd, or a sophomore just trying to make the varsity squad, you have to be accountable to your teammates and you have to ‘buy in’ to whatever the team is trying to do to be successful.

Dallas Head Coach Rick Carlisle even alluded to as much in his postgame interview, "This is a true team. This is an old bunch. We don't run fast or jump high", Carlisle said. "These guys had each other's backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass."

Maybe it’s the trust that is ingrained into your psyche since high school that shows itself when people achieve their goals as a team. You always hear the postgame interview when the players praise each other for all the work they put in together, and how they truly earned this as a team. They learned to trust and depend on one another. Isn’t that what high school sports are all about? You learn how to be depended on and have people out there on the field that can count on you, or as coach Carlisle would say, "have each other’s backs".

It’s not to say that the Miami Heat didn’t have each others’ backs or that they didn’t have the right group of guys together to win a title. But something was different. The Mavs never got flustered. This was a series of some serious runs by both teams and every single time that you thought "here we go, this is the Heat we thought we’d see", Dallas would storm right back and play with a poise that defined their championship.

It became more obvious each and every game that Dallas had ‘it’, that elusive definition that can’t be pin-pointed by even the most accomplished of writers. Teams that have ‘it’ always find a way to respond and play with a type of calmness and poise that as you’re watching you’re saying, "They’re going to do this".

After every game in this series we waited for LeBron James to accept the challenges that were being thrown his way and to come out and play lights-out. He didn’t play terrible for any other NBA player; he just didn’t play like the LeBron we were used to seeing. People thought his game four and game five performances were the potential knockdown blow for a once dominant player. But it was this series that was the ultimate punch in the face so we’ll have to see how he responds to defeat like this.

Dirk Nowitzki was named MVP of the finals but this championship, as much as any ever before it, shows us that any team in any sport will not win a title if every player is not carrying their own weight. It took every player on that Dallas Mavericks roster to put them in a position to win this title. Jason Terry isn’t a forgotten man even though he’s coming off the bench, but JJ Barea had as much influence on the outcome of this series as any other player on the Mavs roster. He was downright dominant in times against the Heat.

Let’s also make something else clear; this title wasn’t specifically won Sunday night in Miami. It was won last fall when Nowitzki was in the gym working hard with his coach when nobody else was around. It was in the meetings with Rick Carlisle and Mark Cuban on how they could build a better basketball team. It was won during the last few seasons that ended in the NBA quarterfinals, semifinals, or in 2006 to the Miami Heat in the finals.

It was these lessons that we're crucial to the development of a teams' psyche that could handle the pressure that was thrown their way over the course of this NBA finals. It was something that Miami had not yet experienced and now has to build on for next year.

 

 

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