Weekly Countdown (cont.)
4 Questions rescued from the spam
When is someone going to have the nerve to tell Mark Cuban that his over-the-top, hands-on, neurotic approach as the owner of the Mavs is why his team is unable to win a championship? It is obvious, but he will never admit that. Watching his antics behind the bench, I can feel the negative influence he has on his team right through the TV screen. It may not be an energy any of his players really are aware of, but his personality has become the personality of this team. Although I am sure he is an intelligent guy, he should be honest and recognize what he is doing with and for the Mavs is simply not working and he should recognize that he is not helping by being so close to all the everyday activities. What do you think?
I hear you, Edward, and I know a lot of people agree with you. My feeling is that a decade of 50-win seasons without fail should not be taken for granted, and it's no coincidence that the two franchises that have succeeded at that level are supervised on a daily basis by the man in charge, whether it's Gregg Popovich with the Spurs or Cuban with the Mavs. If Cuban had been the typical owner who recedes from his team, would Dallas have remained so good for so long? He is able to personally hold his players accountable because he is around them every day, and he is more willing to invest in large contracts because he understands first hand what the team needs.
He has made mistakes, as he admits, but you have to accept the whole package. You can't ask him to invest his money without accepting his management style. On the whole the franchise is far better off than if he never had bought the team.
Now, have they failed to fulfill their potential in the playoffs because of his management style? That's a fair question that Cuban will have to answer until he wins a championship. My view is that the makeup of the team has been the main issue, and that Cuban's daily oversight does far more good than harm -- that they wouldn't contend every year if he wasn't around the team throughout the regular season. Most NBA teams suffer because the players aren't held accountable, but that isn't a problem in Dallas.
I've been a D-Wade fan ever since I prayed he would fall to the Bulls in the draft way back when. But is he really the greatest fit with Derrick Rose? He's an incredibly talented player, but don't Wade and Rose basically have the same game?
That would be an amazing backcourt, Adam. Both players can drive inside at will and create and defend, and Rose is going to improve his jump shot just as Wade has improved his. But I don't expect them to wind up together. This is completely a hunch, but I'm guessing Wade would be less likely to move to Chicago than to New York, where his celebrity could grow exponentially. But the likelihood is that he'll remain with Pat Riley in Miami.
If LeBron is hurt or in any way limited, the Cavaliers have no chance to win the title. Do you agree?
I don't agree, Johnathan. He can win games in a lot of ways -- with his passing especially -- and he is surrounded by shooters and low-post scorers. If he is limited offensively, maybe he offsets that by inspiring his team to play better defense.
The same goes for the Lakers: No one should rule them out just because Kobe Bryant has been hurting.
What's going on with the Hawks? How could they look so strong in the regular season and just let it all fall apart in the playoffs?
In the first round, they looked like they expected the Bucks to accept defeat, but that wasn't happening. Now they're getting clobbered by a superior team. The Hawks have done as much as they can with their limited resources, but they were never going to win a second-round series against the richer payroll of Orlando or Cleveland. They've done as well within their means as they can possibly do.
3 Takes with Antonio McDyess
I spoke with the Spurs' 35-year-old big man toward the end of their first-round upset of the Mavericks. His words have new relevance now that San Antonio finds itself down 2-0 to Phoenix.
On the perspective of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. "We never get down, because overall we know the ability we have on this team," he said of the team's difficult regular season. "You could lose, you could be down for a second -- which is not to say we weren't sad or depressed about our losses -- but we felt that we had the potential to still be a good team this year. It gives you a sense of comfort knowing that we don't get down on a lot of things and we'll bounce back the next game, and that's how we always took it."
On doing his part. "My frustration came from my own security, of trying to learn the different positions on the court, and learning the defensive schemes and offensive schemes, which is totally different from other teams. That's where my frustration came. But everybody else seemed a lot more calm, besides the new guys. When we struggled in games with our shooting and rebounding, me and [Richard Jefferson] didn't know how to take it. We felt like we put it on our shoulders, that it could be our fault. But listening to the guys that have been here and Popovich kind of letting you know that everything will be OK, that gave you a sense of relief."
On the inspiration of the Big Three wanting to win again. "They lift your energy. When you see Manu come back with a broken nose? Come on, man. I had a broken nose, I didn't come back the same game -- and it was a playoff game. But to see Manu come out there and knowing how bad we need him to play, it inspires me. He does all the dirty work to get us going. Without him we definitely would not be where we're at. I told him earlier this year they say Dwight [Howard] is Superman, but Manu is our real Superman. He comes to save the day for us every time."
2 Playoff surprises
The Suns. I did not see this coming. Their roster looked far less dangerous than in the Mike D'Antoni years, and it was on the verge of growing weaker three months ago when they were seriously thinking about moving Amar'e Stoudemire. But the Suns have made the most of their deepened bench, and they won Game 2 against the Spurs without the dominating performance they figured to need from Steve Nash. Even if the Spurs come back to win this series, Phoenix's year-long performance should be recognized as an example that teamwork can make a difference in this league.
Grant Hill. Something extra has to be said of someone whose left ankle has survived five operations, who missed 357 games over six prime years, and who has now appeared in all but one game over the past two seasons while -- at 37 years old -- limiting Ginobili to 11 points in Game 2 on Wednesday. This is turning into one of the more amazing comebacks in the history of the league.
1 Contender to remember
The Orlando Magic. They drew the easiest path to the conference finals of any favorite East or West, but don't hold that against Orlando. The Magic will likely finish off the Hawks within five games and wait unscathed for Cleveland or Boston to emerge. They don't have Hedo Turkoglu creating mismatches anymore, but they do have Jameer Nelson playing at a high level, they are possibly the best defensive team in the tournament and they believe wholeheartedly they can beat the Cavaliers or the Celtics. While the Cavs, Lakers and Spurs have all foundered at times this postseason, the Magic have looked ruthlessly efficient. We may yet look back to realize this was the league's best team all along.
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