Champion Mavs still second fiddle to Heat - NBC Sports

Champion Mavs still second fiddle to Heat
Miami dominated ratings and headlines, and will continue to do so
Reuters
Miami's LeBron James was the center of attention for the Mavs defense in Game 6 and will likely remain the center of attention for NBA fans next season, writes NBCSports.com contributor Ira Winderman.
June 14, 2011, 11:06 pm

Q. It has been days now of how the Heat lost and what LeBron didn't do. The Mavs had a great season. Dirk Nowitzki showed courage. Jason Kidd did it at 38. And Jason Terry was fantastic. Where's the love for the Mavs?
- Dan, Arlington, Texas

A. And that, Dan, is the story of your 2010-11 NBA season.

It was never about anything other than the Heat, whether they won, or whether they lost, be it the TV focus, the off-the-court inspection, the notion of super teams.

Was it fair? No, but the television ratings were huge and interest in the league is as intense as it has been for years.

Don't kid yourself, those NBA finals ratings on ABC did not come because of the likability of the Mavericks and the career crusade of their top players for that elusive first ring. They came because the Heat were playing, just like the ratings for Heat-Bulls the previous round and Heat-Celtics before that.

And because you are writing this from Dallas and I'm far enough away, let's also be candid:

Slideshow
Image: Dallas Mavericks players hold up the Larry O'Brien trophy as they celebrate defeating the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship in Miami

Check out some of the best images from the 2011 NBA playoffs.

It probably won't end as ugly as it did for the Heat after that 2006 title, when they went another four seasons without winning a playoff round, but the Mavericks could be an underdog as early as the second round of next season's playoffs.

The Mavericks are a neat little story because of perseverance, but I doubt there will be a run on Dallas jerseys in the offseason or that Sports Illustrated will sell many (if any) of those commemorative editions.

No, the top of the sales rung likely again will belong to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade next season. Fair? Perhaps not. But true.

Q. What do you make of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert tweeting his pleasure over LeBron losing?
- Seth, Brooklyn

A. The same thing I do about the governor of Ohio making the Mavericks honorary citizens of his state for a day.

Why? Because at the very pinnacle of a sport a team closed two games from a championship?

Unless we missed something, does advancing to the NBA finals make you a failure?

Is winning the lottery the greater achievement?

Look, there were plenty of times over the past year when LeBron made himself largely unlikable. I get that. There is a huge reclamation project there for some image specialist.

But does this mean Ohio no longer will collect taxes on LeBron's Akron estate because he's not welcomed there?

Silly. Pathetic. And a bit sad.

Q. Just read your article on MSNBC about the Heat tweaking their roster to make another run at the title. I do agree a few tweaks are perhaps all the Heat need to get over the hump. But there are some flaws in your assessment:

First, all the Bulls need is a creative enough wing scorer to shoulder some of the load for Derrick Rose and the Bulls probably win that series, maybe in five games.

Second, the Celtics controlled a lot of action against Miami until the late minutes of the fourth quarter, this with a one-armed Rajon Rondo and no Shaquille O'Neal.

Third, it's easy to say just pick up a better point guard and center, but how?

Fourth, you wonder if another long, grinding season with a lot of minutes will catch up to the Big Three.

Fifth, I wonder if LeBron and Wade just don't have the right chemistry to play off each other.
- Drew

A. I'm not saying there won't be another playoff gauntlet next season. But I am pretty confident there has to be something better out there, even at the minimum, than the combination of Joel Anthony (or Zydrunas Ilgauskas or Jamaal Magloire or Erick Dampier) at center and Mike Bibby (or Mario Chalmers) at point guard.

Slideshow
1993 NBA Draft

Check out some of the big scores teams made with the No. 1 pick and what the next team missed by drafting second.

As for the LeBron-Wade "chemistry" issue, I think we're all grasping. This team got within two games of a title, led five games of the finals in the fourth quarter. So were they so far away that a massive makeover is necessary?

That's like building a mansion, finding the garage door doesn't work, and tearing it down and starting construction from scratch.

Q. Do you think it's a good idea for the Pistons to consider Isiah Thomas as coach? They do need to fill seats here.
- Joe, Birmingham, Mich.

A. As much as Isiah as executive or someone with ultimate personnel power should scare the dickens out of any owner, I think there is something to be said for Isiah as coach. I think he actually can do that pretty well.

Further, the Pistons need something to sell, with the roster still quite bare. And no one sells like Isiah (he just sold me three ShamWows this week).

I'm not sure Joe Dumars wants to stake his reputation on this Isiah at this time, but reaching for a bit of the past might not be the worst way to go for the new ownership.

That said, if I'm Dumars, I make sure it is understood with Isiah from the outset, "absolutely no personnel power is involved. None."

Q. If the Raptors let go of Jay Triano, shouldn't they have had a coach in mind? Why the wait, with the draft so close and so much needed to be done with this roster?
- Doug, Mississauga, Ontario

A. Because they needed Dwane Casey to be done with his work as assistant coach in Dallas.

Casey got a raw deal in Minnesota and deserves another shot. Lawrence Frank also would be a considerable upgrade.

The bottom line is there are enough quality candidates out there (Rick Adelman?) that the Raptors almost assuredly will find themselves with an upgrade on the sideline.

Q. The NHL's Stanley Cup finals format is 2-2-1-1-1. Boston vs. Vancouver. They had no problem flying across the country between games. Why does the NBA stick to a 2-3-2 format? The 2-2-1-1-1 is so much better.
- Stuart, Miami

A. Because the NHL has 200 media covering their series, instead of 2,000. They can just load their media on a cargo plane and sneak them across the border in the cover of night.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.