There is so much for me to say, but I don't think I have to say it all. Since I write stream of consciousness on this here blog, I'm going to try to contain my thoughts to only what is essential. The bare minimum of what is required to get by. Sort of like how the Dallas Mavericks beat the Lakers, yes the two-time defending champion Lakers who are led by the best coach in basketball and the best player in the NBA since Michael Jordan and some other guys with names like Gasol and Bynum and Odom. Yes, those Lakers. The Mavericks beat them in four games. That's the bare minimum. This wasn't five games, six games or a classic seven game series. This was a shellacking.
This is the series that ended Phil Jackson's illustrious career. The series that moved Kobe Bryant down to All NBA's second team status behind the likes of Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, LeBron, D-Wade and Kevin Durant. The series that confirmed suspicions that Pau Gasol is in fact a flopping, jump-shooting, soft, no heart, no fire 7-foot Spaniard playing a game against guys from Detroit and South Central and Baltimore. Guys that don't fuck around in the painted area. And maybe Bynum and Odom are more likely to make the Hall of Fame than they are to make an All Classy team. And maybe the pickups of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes weren't worth the losses of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar after all because they can't hit open threes as much. And, quite frankly, maybe Kobe just isn't Kobe anymore.
This is the series that gave people like me - Kobe fans, Laker fans - cause for concern. More questions than answers. More tribulation than triumph. This is the series that made Mavs fans cheer.
Sure they were the better team. They came in with a game plan that looked more like a five-course meal. There was Dirk. He was the salad. He was the essential, healthy part of the meal. There was Jason Terry hitting threes from every angle of the floor, something like a serving of hors d'oeuvres...you weren't sure what you were eating, but you know you would try it again. There was Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, acting as the Mavs' surf and turf...more than enough to fill your appetite on the point and down low. There was Peja Stojakovich, the asparagus that you didn't always finish but got your serving of. And then the dessert. That was J.J. Barea. And, for this series, Mark Cuban was picking up the tab and not looking silly in doing so.
Call me silly, but this is all a fairy tale. Not in the way that Cinderella's story was told. Not in the way that the Hoosiers won Indiana's State Championship. No, the Mavs were deserving of this dream's arrival. That much is clear.
But this is a fairy tale in that the Lakers' downfall being associated with some team from the Lone Star State's title hopes - and in such embarrassing fashion - is something that only happens in dreams.
The Dallas Mavericks won the series. But the dream is a shared one. Sort of like Leo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe and Ellen Page in Inception. The Mavs are Leo. The San Antonio Spurs are Gordon-Levitt, the Houston Rockets are Ken Watanabe and the rest of the NBA is Ellen Page.
The Mavs did most of the heavy lifting and had the most to lose. I mean how much longer could Mark Cuban keep throwing money at this franchise with no banner to hang? Can Dirk and Jason Kidd do any better with another year of regular season games behind them if they don't win it all this year? This is the burden Leo faced and the Mavs were victors by lifting the heaviest of weights during these NBA playoffs. Sure the Heat are facing high expectations, but they also have two stars in their prime and Chris Bosh on their coattails. If they don't win this year, they certainly will be favored next with another season of bonding, especially once they complete their secret pact to be surgically connected and become a three-head basketball monster. That is what they plan to do, right?
So the Mavs made it. They became one blockbuster movie star in the process too. But let's not forget the co-stars. I mean Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a badass. Like the Spurs, he's a great actor who's only slightly underachieved over the length of his career. Since 10 Things I Hate About You, the year Tim Duncan and David Robinson joined forces, he didn't quite live up to expectations. He never did match Leo's promise or skill similar to the Spurs' inability to top the Lakers with Shaq and Kobe. The Spurs still haven't won back-to-back titles. But then there was 500 Days of Summer. And Inception. Here we have a team with some promise. The kind of promise that comes with having the best regular season record. But making a blockbuster movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as your lead actor is about as smart as betting on the San Antonio Spurs to win it all with an aging Tim Duncan, an oft-injured Manu Ginobili and a French guy who was stupid enough to cheat on Eva Longoria with a woman far less attractive. You don't bet on Joseph Gordon-Levitt to be Leo. You bet on him to be the Leo's sidekick. That's the role the Spurs have played for the Lakers all these years. Which is why the Mavs' victory, just after the Spurs lost to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Rudy Gay-less, Hall of Fame-less, who's-there-coach-again Grizzlies in the first round, makes this a fairy tale. Only in this landscape could that Spurs (and Tim Duncan's) failure be trumped by a Lakers failure the same way the Lakers' three-peat and back-to-back titles with Kobe leading the way trumped the non-consecutive, but multiple championships won by the less flashy, wholesome team from San Antonio. That scene where Tom Hardy tells Gordon-Levitt to dream bigger is a reality for these Spurs fans who are cheering on the Mavs' victory as if it were their own. They should dream bigger and expect a team with the NBA's best regular season record to make it out of the first round instead of saying "oh, everyone knew they would lose in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies who almost never make the playoffs."
As for Ken Watanabe, please don't think I'm being a racist and saying he must be the Houston Rockets because of his similar ethnic makeup to that of Yao Ming. No, not that at all. The similarities I see are in the fact that Watanabe wasn't even supposed to be a part of this Inception team. They didn't need an extra guy on the team. But he bought himself in. He wanted to monitor his investment. Sort of like how Houston Rockets fans weren't even a part of the playoffs this year, yet they paid their way into this Lakers-Mavs conversation (monitoring their investment in long-standing Lakers hatred that pre-dates Kobe Bryant) by opening their mouths with no semblance of memory at all. If you can recall, the two-time defending champion Rockets were swept by the then-Seattle Sonics with a hungry Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton on a barrage of alley oops, open three-pointers, stingy defense and energetic fans. Sound familiar?
And all the rest of ya'll are Ellen Page because you're all students to the game. You have absolutely no business pretending to be the experts in how this process works, but you get a single beat on the Lakers (the way Page learned something intimate about Leo) and milk it for all it's worth. So you're either a Lakers hater or a bandwagon rider. You're creating your own world and rules as you go until the mirror is pointing back at you.
As for the real NBA followers out there, think about this.
If the Mavericks are Leo DiCaprio, the Spurs are Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the Rockets are Ken Watanabe and everyone else is Ellen Page, who are the Lakers?
The Lakers are Christopher Nolan.
It took Christopher Nolan something like ten years to make Inception, which is about how long it took the Mavericks, Rockets, Spurs and every other team in the league to win as many titles as the Lakers won in that span. Meanwhile, Nolan also pulled off Memento, Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight. All certified championship material.
So while the Lakers are writing scripts and directing movies and finding new ways to entertain all the Dr. Pepper-drinkin', popcorn eaters with the best casts and the best plotlines, you're all just sitting around hoping for some Oscar consideration like the rest of these SAG card carriers.
The Lakers are already busy making the next Batman movie. And you better believe Kobe isn't finished as a leading man. All of you Jokers won't be back though.