He's all pissed because Dwyane Wade reportedly said that Dirk Nowitzki didn't display leadership down the stretch in last year's Finals.
Just this morning I made the case that Dirk Nowitzki ought to be a serious candidate for MVP. I love Dirk.
But Dwyane is on point. With the title on the line, I remember Dirk more than once giving up the ball, hoping Jason Terry or someone else would win the game for the Mavericks. He has also had some memorable meltdowns at the end of close playoff games (to go with more fantastic plays than I care to count).
I don't think Dirk would repeat those disappointments. But they did happen, and that's the kind of thing Wade was talking about. It was perhaps a little mean, but it wasn't nuts.
Mark Cuban's response is a spaz. Of course he's going to defend his guy, but this is the flimsy logic of the tired, the desperate, or the insane:
You are right, endings are remembered. And the ending of 3 of the games of the Finals will be remembered alongside Game 6 of the King vs Lakers Conf Finals a few years ago.
I guess you have earned the right to criticize Dirk with an obvious display of your own leadership skills.
I know Shaq appreciates your leadership as well. He called out your team a few weeks ago saying it was "embarassing'. Great leadership DWade. Your coach sat players for being fat. I guess you couldnt lead them away from the buffet.
You are an amazing player Dwayne. I love watching you shoot free throws. What you know about Dirk's leadership skills is non existent. You don't have a clue. Your ability to evaluate leadership skills....well you obviously have an overinflated value of your own. Did you take business classes at Marquette ?
Now we know why Charles won't put you in his 5.
Business classes? To lead a basketball team? Did Dirk even go to college at all?
Oh, and Mark, it's D-W-Y-A-N-E.
Beef with the referees all you want, Mark. But Dwyane Wade took the ball to the hole and forced them to make a call. Fire it up on Synergy Sports. Look at every touch for both players in the clutch of the NBA Finals. Be honest about who was the better leader in that part of those games. You'll hate some of the calls, but I'm guessing you'll also see what Dwyane's talking about.
And you know what? Just let it go anyway. Your team is having a dream season. You're the favorites to win the whole enchilada. Dirk is unstoppable. Josh Howard strikes fear into the hearts of everybody. You have a lot to celebrate.
UPDATE: I have been thinking a lot about this post. My main thought is... wow. Mark Cuban just loves Dirk Nowitzki. A lot. I mean, his non-sensical ramblings remind me, more than anything, of the way a mother defends a child. It's the whole "don't you dare question my baby" thing. And that makes sense to me. In fact, in a weird way it makes me like both Cuban and Nowitzki a little more.
I have found, in fact, that people who are close to Dirk Nowitzki really seem to love that guy. Through all the hype and buzz, and the creepy way that television makes caricatures of everyone, I imagine his real character must be getting lost. Because people who know that man, like Mark Cuban, are super-passionate in his defense, and that's admirable. I don't write a lot of lengthy player profiles anymore, but the next time I do, I'd love to write about Dirk Nowitzki, to try to see the part of him that everyone loves so much.
And another point: I was a little sloppy in how I explained Nowitzki's playoff record. Yes, he has been awesome so many times. But he, more than any other current MVP candidate, has had notable meltdowns in playoff crunch times of his career. The two that stick out to me were the closing minutes of an elimination game against Phoenix a couple of years ago--remember that freak out?--and one possession during these past NBA Finals (anyone else remember this?) when the Mavericks really needed a bucket. I swear I remember that Nowitzki caught a pass, dribbled across the lane, and dished it to someone else, never to touch it again that possession. At the time I thought "wow... not heroic." (He also, as it happened, had a tough time with Udonis Haslem's defense through much of the 2006 NBA Finals. Everyone was talking about that at the time.)
Nowitzki has always been amazing at the whole "taking what the defense will give you" thing. But sometimes you have to take just a little bit more, especially in the NBA. I'd bet that's what Dwyane Wade was talking about, and in that regard I think there is a certain case to be made.
But I also think there's a case to be made that Nowitzki is the kind of player who just keeps getting better and better. It's a real tribute to him that he's not only fantastic, but still improving, even at this stage of his career. I'm prepared to believe any playoff weaknesses we may have seen thus far in his career have been growing pains, and unless some injuries reshuffle the deck, I expect Dirk to blow all our minds in the way he leads the Mavericks to the NBA title this June.