Sea of false trumpets
I'm sure that, despite yourselves, most of you have by now read Pat Forde's column on what a Dirk championship would mean for international hoops. It's hardly an original idea; hell, before loons were born FreeDarko was touting Darko as a figure who could permanently reorganize the NBA as we know it, take it global and overturn all oppressive cliches. And doubtlessly, at this point "Euros" remain relative outsiders; for one of them to cart off the LOB would provide that one absolutely inarguable proof of "their" right to live.
Forde does point out that Hakeem and Duncan are in some ways international players, meaning that pure-bred Americans suddenly don't have such a recent lock on the "centerpiece on the ultimate winner" status. And he does note that the Spurs relied heavily on their thoroughly arrivisite backcourt duo. I find it a little bizarre, though, that Dirk hoisting it high surrounded by a pretty fucking gully bunch of new jacks and Lost Years retreads would do more for the Euro then, say, Duncan, Parker and Manu hikin' up the proverbial shorts. Basketball games are not won by individuals, and only rarely does a star leave an indelible fingerprint on each and every motion his team makes. If I had a knit penny for every time that the General is credited with Dirk's transformation and the wondrous run it has allowed for, I'd be sick with wool; if Pop is seen as the U.S. counter-weight on the Spurs' trans-continental drift, certainly Avery's Mavs are in no danger of getting EU micor-chips implanted in the back of their necks.
I am also bashed across the pecs by how easily people switch up the significance of the mighty Euro. Spineless as they may have been, these prospects were gleefully welcomed into the Association by those waiting on the return of the bounce pass and the mid-range bonanza. Their immensely thoughtful grasp of the fundamentals and supposed devotion to the team game fell like creamiest evening upon their mind's dunk-scorched eye, the cavalry to save where many a Duke graduate had failed. Technicalities aside, they were as Establishment as it came, so I'm not sure why having this movement's banner automoton animated by the basketball's own Holy Roller is some kind of league-rending statement. This is the Euro assimilated, conditioned, brought to serve the master who in the first place stamped his visa. A Mavs championship would, on the contrary, reinforce the Spurs/Pistons "right way" era, slap another nail in the coffin of the Iverson Generation, and set out a bold new challenge for these supposedly more responsible studs now on the rise.
In the end, however, this slightly paranoid fantasia crumbles away based not on Dirk, or Avery Johnson's pedigree, but on the singularity of this team. Yes, Dirk is being made to play like a man, a bunch of gunners are learning the value of falling into line, and the tower of basketball fundamentalism is visible from all angles. I would insist, though, that it's a far more cooperative effort, that no one rules anyone else, and that at the end of the day, this is just basketball. What brings together Dirk, Josh Howard, and the alternately valiant and hilarious late-Stack? Nothing except that they all know how to play a little. What does Avery do? Yell a lot, motivate, encourage vigor and will. No bat-headed system or draconian scowl. He may be a taskmaster, but he's also a players' coach, a general like they did in the War Between the States. If the Mavs win, it won't be Nowitzki's "leadership" or socio-cultural valence that'll deserve the historic swerving and plunge into fissure. Rather, it'll be Avery, who found a way to heal all that was broken within this sport, who has welded a truly memorable amulet up against the clouds.
NOTE: Dude with tuba=