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"Leadership" is one of those tricky things to define. It can be quietly dignified, boisterously vocal, even late-blooming. Does your team have it? The TrueHoop Network sorts through the distinctions:
Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell: "In San Antonio, everything is measured in championships. No one gets too excited about another pedestrian playoff appearance. These things are expected. A couple weeks back when the Spurs clinched, we all yawned. But this was, perhaps, the worst regular season of the Tim Duncan era. 54-28 is scraping the bottom of the injury-tarnished barrel. This season felt like a nadir. The Big 3 missed over 50 games. The team never developed a rhythm. It just punched its way to 54. It was a struggle. Last night's OT victory against the Hornets was, in many ways, an ending fitting for the start. On the season the Spurs played in 18 one-possession games and 6 overtimes, 3 of which doubled-up the extra stanzas. But for the Spurs to have fought their way there is no less glorious than if they had arrived on cruise control. This regular season was remarkable in its own way. Let's not lose sight of these easily overlooked achievements, even if they're only silhouettes standing against a much brighter light. Let's not take them for granted. Greatness is measured in the 'small' things too."
Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game: "With the playoffs looming and the Mavs playing their best basketball of the season, one can't help but feel the slightest bit of optimism. Without the weight of expectation, Dallas might just be ready to soar. It's what I want to believe and what I hope. But all of that hope, the very basis of that possibility, hinges upon the ability of this team to maintain a certain level of consistency. As I understand it, the source of that consistency is solid leadership ... For the Mavs, that responsibility falls on Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry. Each can dominate the opposition on the court, and each brings a different dimension to leadership on the hardwood. Dirk is the face of the franchise, the best player on the team, and the established star. Jason Kidd has a winning pedigree, Hall of Fame credentials, and a reputation for leadership based on the nature of his position. Jason Terry's play begs for him to assume the role, and his rapport with the fans and his teammates don't disagree."
Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold: "For a long time, Mitch Kupchak was the guy that couldn't get the job done. He was the man who couldn't build a team. He was the butt of fans jokes and the victim of media scorn. It seemed like Mitch would never measure up to the man we called the Logo ... This was our GM? I mean, this was the guy that traded Shaq. The man that thought it was a good idea to exchange Caron Butler for Kwame Brown. The guy that signed Smush Parker and then kept him. The guy that made a lottery pick out of an unproven center straight from high school ... over more proven college players who could have helped the team right away. Needless to say, there was definitely reason for concern about the direction of this franchise. But what none of us understood was that Mitch had a vision of a team and he had the patience to execute his plan. Throughout all the criticism that he received, he never wavered from the path that he laid out to rebuild and transition the Lakers from a Shaq-centric team to one that could compete with Kobe Bryant at its nexus. We just had to wait for it to all come together."
THE FINAL WORD
Hardwood Paroxysm: A visual montage of everything you love about the NBA Playoffs.
Piston Powered: It's the bench.
Valley of the Suns: Grant Hill, Basketball Professional.
(Photos by D. Lippitt/Einstein, Barry Gossage, Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)