Friday, June 17, 2011

2010-2011 NBA and NHL Finals Recaps (sport)

Two amazing finals series that were both exciting from start to finish.

It was like LOST. First, you had the good guys, many of whom had their own tales of redemption and second chances. Flashbacks to when they had their first chances at a championship. Flashforwards to the tail end of their career and a question of how many more chances they would get. In the end, they came together and won as a team.

Carlisle: He had that talented team in Indiana that was broken up by the Artest melee. He helped build that Detroit team until they won the championship without him. But this championship will separate him from being compared to Rick Adelman, another superb coach who hasn't been able to win the big one, and his decision to start Barea late in the series was pivotal.

Nowitzki: Like a true hero, he was always there to lead at the end. A thoroughly underrated player in the public eye throughout his career because it was so hard for an average fan to relate to his skill set. I still don't think enough can be said about his finals performance, especially the game where he battled the >100 degree fever and still made the final basket.

Terry: Was there with Dirk in their previous finals collapse. As Dallas kept failing year after year in the playoffs, one wonders how many more chances the two of them would have together before management decided to blow everything up.

Kidd: He had his chances with two previous finals appearances, but finally got a well-deserved championship. Does anyone remember now all the debates about the Jason Kidd trade? All the talk about what a bust it was for the Mavericks?

Chandler: Speaking of busts, Chandler was one of the big three high-schoolers to come out of the infamous 2001 draft along with Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry. We'd just assumed that they were all complete busts, but he played well throughout the season and was key in the finals.

Marion: He had his chance with the D'Antoni Suns, and people wondered after he left whether his stats were just buoyed by playing in that system and with Nash. He was important throughout the playoffs, providing the solid defense and rebounding that helped hold the team together when they weren't shooting well.

Stevenson: Another key defender and streak shooting role player, he had previous playoff experience from when he was on that mess of a Wizards team.

Peja: While he ran cold and was benched for the finals, he provided a scoring touch that really propelled the team to another level when he came over midseason. Another great story of a top performer in his time (the Kings team before he hurt his knee) who was running out of time to do something again.

Barea, Cardinal, etc.: Guys that make you wonder whether they should get playing time at all, and yet proved to be useful pieces important to the team's energy and chemistry. Their success was a great representation of why the Mavericks won.

You also had the villains, who willfully made the decision to embrace becoming villains, trying hard to push against the accepted beliefs and create something new. But the problem, as often is the case with villains, was that they didn't really come together as a team. In the end, we will still remember this team for LBJ, Wade, and Bosh. It just wasn't enough in the end. Storybook ending: good hard workers triumph over evil power-seekers bent on domination through teamwork.

While I'm not that big of a hockey fan, I can appreciate the excitement of the sport when played at a high level. From Boston's penalty-killing, to Vancouver's clutch late goals early, to Tim Thomas playing like a man possessed, it was captivating from start to finish. While the level of hatred and intensity did improve the drama, tension, and excitement of the series, I did feel that some of the early altercations and the subsequent rioting marred the event somewhat.

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