What, you didn't think your Dallas Mavericks were going to sweep the Miami Heat; who are you, anyway, Tim Cowlishaw? And weren't you getting just a little bored with this series? Wasn't that the kind of game you wanted and expected--a thriller, down to the last second, the last shot, the last gasp, the last aw, shit? No? Oh, well. What did you expect after Pat Riley's post-third quarter give-'em-hell speech? "This is our season!" the old man yelled at his fading, failing team, and at the very least it was their game; so says Sam Smith in the Chicago Tribune, who chronicles the rebirth of a team that found its heart and head at the right time--not only Dwyane Wade, who scored 15 in the final fourth, but also Gary Payton, the old man who took the unlikely shot. And Shaquille O'Neal too, whose two made free throws are apparently the makes heard round the world; says so in the San Francisco Chronicle, courtesy my favorite-named writer Janny Hu.
It's ugly sorting through these stories this morning: The New York Daily News puts it best/worst by describing this as a game in which "Shaquille O'Neal made more clutch free throws than Dirk Nowitzki,"a thought that turns the stomach as we stay in Miami for two more games in front of the loudest home-court crowd since they tore down Boston Garden. I think the headline in The Seattle Times put it best: "Agonizing loss for Mavericks," to say the very least. But Mark Heisler's opening words in his Los Angeles Times column pack a nasty sting too:
"On behalf of all the long-suffering Mavericks fans who waited all of those years before I got there for this trophy, I'd like to ... oh, darn.Funny thing is, I was going to loan Mark those Speedos; guess I can put off washing them one more day. But there were "strange" doings in Miami last night (says former Morning News'er Mitch Lawrence in the Daily News); why else would he have misidentified the AmericanAirlinesArena as "the American Airlines Center"? And the Heat were desperate, says CBS Sportsline. And the Mavs choked, insists USA Today, which hauls out from the closet that dusty moniker we'd all prefer to forget--Mav-wrecks--and beats us over the head with it till we cry foul. I might self-destruct after reading that piece; you've been warned.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban, who vowed to attend the championship celebration in Speedos, was measuring the Larry O'Brien trophy for his living room Tuesday night as the boos wafted down and white-clad Miami Heat fans filed up the aisles but a funny thing happened on the way to the inevitable."
I do have one question for The Miami Herald: How is Pat Riley's favorite Bruce Springsteen "inspirational" song "The Rising," which came out only four years ago and is about September 11 and not, ya know, rallying from 13 down in the fourth quarter to win nothing more than a Game 3? Doesn't evoking all of that seem kind of...icky? Ah, well. No matter your feelings about The Miami Herald and Dan LeBatard, he sums it better than anyone else in the land with his morning column, which he apparently wrote with George Lucas on his lap (a new hope, indeed). This dreary a.m., LeBatard opens his piece with the question we're all asking this morning, on both sides of the bench:
"Are you kidding?
You have to be kidding.
Are you bleeping kidding?"
It's no joke--but if you wanna feel a little better, keep in mind that sandwiched between Stephen Colbert and singer-songwriter Neko Case on The Late Show with David Letterman tonight will be Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Blessedly, he will be leaving the Speedo at home. --Robert Wilonsky