It happened again. Steve Nash and the Sun’s elimination from the playoffs produced a nation-wide question: Why doesn’t Nash, a two time MVP, get blamed when his team loses early? Well, that is not only a stupid question; it is an easily answered one. First, last season wasn’t Nash’s fault. They didn’t have Amare, and last I checked they still did pretty damn good. Second, this season was Robert Horry’s fault. He single handedly gave the Suns their exit tickets, and you can thank the NBA for that. The suspensions of Stoudamire and Diaw were ridiculous. But I don’t want to focus on the Suns. I don’t want to take it one step further and say,” Nash? What about Shaq and D-Wade?” I don’t even want to begin to dissect the many reasons why those two stars were heavily responsible for a drastic collapse and sweep by the hands of the younger Chicago Bulls. Wait, yes I do.The Maverick’s blown first round series to the Warriors showed us all what a star in this league is treated like when they can’t carry the weight of their city’s hope and dreams. If they can’t win the big games, they are choke artists. Their posters come off of young kid’s walls, and dads everywhere throw a glass against the wall. Dirk Nowitzki just cost them five thousand dollars, their daughter’s tuition money, and any self respect they were still clinging to. Dirk Nowitzki, the great basketball player, blew it for his team and everyone else. At least, that’s what the media wants you to believe. The Mavericks, the league’s best team and title favorites with 67 regular season wins, were downed by a more athletic and more aggressive team.
And who is blamed? It’s not Avery Johnson’s fault. No, even though he clearly couldn’t handle the pressure near the end of Game 4 when his mentor and former head coach of the Mav’s was sitting on the opposite bench, booming with confidence. It couldn’t be the supporting cast’s fault. Impossible. Josh Howard only decided to show up in game 6, performing a wonderful disappearing act in Games 3 and 4 in the 4th quarter. And the rest of the supporting cast? They did just enough to make you believe that they were the Miami Heat. This, interestingly enough, brings me to my main point.
Dirk Nowitzki, arguably the best player at his position, and in the top 10 in the NBA, is to blame for this quick exit, but why? In a blog by former NBA player Eddie Johnson on Hoopshype.com, Miami Heat stars Dwayne Wade and Shaq are defended to the death after an early first round exit by the reigning NBA champs at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. These two stars are the sole reason why the Heat won the title last year to begin with, just as Nowitzki is the reason the Mavericks made it to the Finals last year. So why should their scrutiny be any different, any less painful to endure? Why is Eddie Johnson writing an article saying that the Heat’s woes and the reason for their non repeat is because Jason Williams is slowing down or all Jason Kapono can do is shoot threes? If Antoine Walker can’t shoot 3’s and Udonis Haslem isn’t what he was last year, then why are they even playing?
My point is I am tired of seeing star athletes being barraged by reporters with questions about how they underperformed, while their supporting cast remains unbothered. In the Heat’s case, the two superstars, who are the face of the franchise and the leaders of the team, are not the scapegoats. They are the martyrs. But with Nowitzki, even though he is getting fouled every time he shoots and no one cares, he is still deemed the reason for the failure. It’s not Dirk Nowitzki, Hall of Famer. It’s Nowitzki, red-headed step child.
The beautiful thing about this is that it cycles itself all the way back to last year’s NBA Finals. In that series, Dallas, the obviously deeper and superior team, was up two games to none and looking at making it 3-0. And then what happened? The referees let the Heat hassle Nowtizki and the Mav’s even more than usual, as well as gave Wade phantom fouls whenever he snapped his fingers. Wade later went on to say that Nowitzki was the reason why the Heat beat the Mav’s. Nowitzki was weak and let it slip away. And whether or not he is right or the media is right now is not the point. What is the point is that the finger pointing is far too inconsistent. If one star is to blame then all stars all to blame. Otherwise, where do you draw the line? It’s okay that Kobe’s Lakers failed to get past the Suns because he’s amazing and his supporting cast, well, simply is not. And maybe that is so, but if it is, then guys like Nowitzki and Nash should be seen under the same microscope.
But to answer the allegations against Dirk; yes, Nowitzki is cracking folks, but not under the pressure. He is beginning to see something that I have seen for a very long time. The rule of judgment is not equal for all stars, and it is becoming painfully obvious Nowitzki is set up to fail. What is more painfull obvious, however, is that everyone wants him to.
One reply on “The Scapegoat”
not trying to troll here but…… The thing is is that the heat were #4 and lost to a #5 team, that happens all the time. However, Dallas was #1, in the league as well, Dirk was named MVP, and they lost to a team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs until the very last day in the first round, which is the first time a #1 team has lost to a #8 team in a 7 games series, ever. Not to that fact but Nowitzki and dallas lost in the finals last year, didn’t win. Miami did, which means the pressure to win climbs insanely down, and its not like Shaq or D-Wade had great seasons this year to begin with. Losing in the finals and improving your season the next year would increase the pressure insanely high. On the other hand, if Miami were the ones #1, and D-Wade or Shaq were mvp, and they lost to Orlando in the first round, you would hear nothing of how they completely underperformed, and how its Shaqs fault for not controlling Dwight Howard, blah blah everything that Dirk is getting.
And why wasn’t Steve Nash to blame for his teams exit? Just as you said, but also that Nash played extremely well, better than he did in the season, and if not for Robert Horry coming ‘up big’ again, and Nash’s nose, its very possible the Suns could have won the NBA title.
But besides that, I thought it was a good article, mainly the end. It did seem like the league ‘wanted’ miami to win. (this wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with Dirk being foreign by chance, could it? Or for anything he’s been getting) And I honestly don’t blame him for losing in the finals. I do however heavily attack him for this year, seeing that there wasn’t really anything to say except he didn’t show up when it mattered. I do give credit though to Don Nelson to shutting down Dirk.(being his former coach might help though).
I don’t want to go on too long though(too late I guess). Geeze, maybe I should have made an article instead.