Doubt Is A Four Letter Word.

“I’m 28 now. I shouldn’t miss a free throw down the stretch, but it happens. We’re all human. If we were all machines, it would be boring. Emotions play a factor in a big game like that.”

“I think anyone who says they don’t get tense is lying,” Nowitzki said. “In big games, you’ve just got to find ways to stay loose and relaxed. I’ve been doing a decent job of not letting the pressure get to me and still enjoying the moment.

“I love to have the ball at the end of games. That’s what it’s all about, that your teammates trust you and you have confidence in yourself that you can get it done. It’s a great situation to be in.”
Dirk Nowitzki

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
Michael Jordan

The definitive excellence of Michael Jordan was in his ability to consistently meet-and raise-expectations. Reaching the pinnacle of success is a lonely and perilous journey. The air gets thin up there. A successful reputation is twofold; the more successful one is, the more seriously they will be taken and the more cautious oppnents will be in their plan of attack. For some, with continued success comes a fear of failure. A fear of exposure, belittlement, infamy. They know that players don’t gracefully descend this mountain, they are thrown off by someone hungrier, and recovery isn’t promised. Only the strong survive.

It’s never shown in the box scores of a game, but the psychological and emotional advantage are just as important as the actual point totals. The playoffs are a battle of wills, and any sign of weakness is exploited. To doubt one’s own will can make even rudimentary exercises such as a trip to the line excrutiatingly difficult. Ask Nick Anderson, Karl Malone, or Gilbert Arenas. By definition, free throws should be easy, but in a tight situation it’s that very assumption of simplicity which complicates the process. It’s also the reason there often isn’t a repeat champion. Maintaing a competitive edge in this league is difficult enough, but the added burden of expectations can absolutely cripple a player and a team.

It’s one thing to perform well during the monotonous redundancy of the regular season, but to sustain that effort amidst the pressure and finality of the playoffs is something else enitrely. Ask the ’94 Sonics or the ’99 Heat. In a game of synergy and snap decisions, the physical and mental manifestations which spring from a seed of doubt are anathema. Hesitancy or over thinking, leads to bated breath and quickened pulses, which produce dry mouths and sweaty palms. Nerves. As the crowd roars and the lights shine, the ears plug, the throat closes, and the vision blurs. Passes and rebounds are mishandled, defensive rotations are missed, jumpers get short armed, and games are lost. It’s called choking, and once it starts it’s hard to stop.

That’s the beauty of being an underdog. They can’t choke, they can only induce it in others.

“We will not sweep Miami”
Andres Nocioni

He knew what he was doing. He knew the defending champion Heat were no strangers to injuries or 2-0 deficits. He knew Miami’s talent and experience could fuel a rally and that many would in fact, expect that to happen. The Bulls were not the favorites in this series, and wouldn’t be unless they won game 3, which is why Chicago withstood the inevitable Heatwave (womp, womp….) with a marked composure. Miami came out aggressive, took excellent care of the ball and led by seven at the half. They were riding an eight game home playoff win streak, and had won 26 consecutive playoff games which they led at halftime. The Bulls were uncontrollably turning the ball over and the Heat carried their lead into the fourth quarter. It all fell apart in one possession.

The Bulls raced to the other end and Hinrich attacked Shaq with a floater in the lane. The doubt O’Neal had instilled in Chicago with his dominance was supplanted by confidence. A few possessions later Gordon would also lob one in over the Diesel, and that began a parade to the paint which resulted in 15-2 run of nothing but free throws and easy buckets for the Chi. Miami lost their composure, the game, and now are looking not to be the first defending champs to get swept in the first round.

Why didn’t Shaq dunk the ball in that earlier sequence? After he elbowed Ben Wallace in the head to clear his way to the basket, he certainly could have. Maybe he was just shocked he got blocked and rushed his followup. Or maybe he rushed that follow up because he was scared of the line. He and Dwyane Wade were a combined 7-22 from the charity stripe (The team shot 19-35). Miami’s bid for another title is essentially over because they couldn’t make their free throws. Karmas a bitch, ‘aint it?

“Dirk said that they gave us the championship last year. But he’s the reason they lost the championship, because he wasn’t the leader he’s supposed to be in the closing moments.”
Dwyane Wade

“You look at what happened to him last year in the Finals. You can’t let your team give away games like that, in the biggest series of your career. Look at what he did this year in their biggest games. When they played Phoenix, he made bad decisions, he made stupid plays late.

“And then he admitted to feeling pressure. He admitted it. That’s the worst thing you can do is say, ‘The pressure got to me.’ My God, even if you feel that, why would you say that?”
Rick Barry

“I’m coming back with a bunch of schmoes”
-Don Nelson

The whispers started a while ago, and he didn’t do much to quiet them. ‘Is Dirk a clutch player?’ Hmmm… If there ever was a time for the ‘we have nothing to lose’ routine, this was it. Dirk has openly acknowledged that he can be rattled and that anything less than an O’Brien this year is a letdown, so why wouldn’t Don Nelson apply the pressure? Nellie’s barrage of compliments towards Dallas are an obvious ploy, and so far they’re working.

They’re younger and more athletic, but Golden State’s strength is in their fearlessness. They ain’t no punks to begin with, and now the Warriors are coming off a 13 year playoff drought? Against a team they took three from this year? Sheeeeeeeeet….. S-Jax’ll tell ya, “Toss that muthafucka up there and let’s get this shit poppin’!”

That emotion can get the best of them, as it did in Game 2, but when questions arose of whether the Warriors would completely unravel, it was Dallas who lost their cool in the following game. This was supposed to be a five game series, six at the most. That prediction might actually prove true if the Mavericks don’t find themselves. This is a 67 win team? This is the MVP? Everything is on the line and everyone is watching, how will he respond? If his first few shots don’t fall, will he fall apart? Has there ever been a shakier 90% free throw shooter?

Observance changes that which is being observed, and tomorrow night Dirk Nowitzki will be our latest case study. He will either become a shrinking violet, or his leadership will finally blossom before the world. In order to be effective he needs to exhaust the versatility of his game. He may be pestered by smaller, quicker players, but he can shoot over them, and post any one of them up-which should provide scoring opportunities for teammates. Either way, Dallas will live or die with him and he can’t lead with the same self-effacing blather he’s been spouting all year. It’s time for him to drown out the whispers with a battle cry of, ‘Warriors, come out to plaaaayyyy….’

“If we don’t get out of the first round this year, it’s on me!”
Tracy McGrady

In what appears to be an effort to circumvent media pressure, TMac has played himself right into Jerry Sloan’s hands. It’s unclear whether McGrady doesn’t trust Yao enough, or if he’s simply overzealous, but what’s quite evident is that the Jazz are running to minimize Ming’s effectiveness and his teammate is allowing it to happen. Despite playing only seven more minutes than his center (154-147), Mac has taken sixteen more shots (87-71). This in itself is not a completely telling statistic, but Yao has taken nineteen more free throws (39-53/26-34), while McGrady continues to struggle from the field (32-87, 37% in addition to 28% from three, 6-21). He’s never been out of the first round because he’s never had good teammates, and now that he finally has them, they’re underutilized. Why? Expectations.

And don’t get me started on Kirilenko.

“I thought they played harder than we did,” “And we didn’t stick to our game plan like we did in the first two games. We were a step slow and we weren’t in the right spots. Defensively, we need to concentrate and be in the right spots.”

Steve Nash

“We had a chance to put them away,” “They shot the ball well, Kobe was on fire. Game 4 will be a different story. We normally take care of the ball, but they were the aggressor.”
Amare Stoudemire

“It was effort. You can go over execution and X’s and O’s all you want. What you have to have is effort.”
Kobe Bryant

Foul trouble, missing open jumpers, poor defensive rotations and rebounding, whatever. However Phoenix lost the edge in this series doesn’t matter as much as how they plan to re-establish it. They must look forward, not back. They have to give that same effort that built them a seventeen point lead in Game 3, and they have to know that L.A. will match that intensity. They have to know that Laker defenders are going to continue to show and hassle Nash on the screen/roll, that they will continue to attack the basket and crash the boards. Just as the Suns bent countless opponents to the will of their fastbreak, they have to know the Lakers seek to do the same through controlling the paint. Kobe wasn’t on fire, he was waltzing to the basket for uncontested layups. So was Lamar, and so was Kwame.

Phoenix might be under more pressure than Dallas this year. They’re interchangeable title favorites comprised of All-Star rosters, led by interchangeable MVP candidates. Neither should be struggling in the first round, but Phoenix is having this problem for the second time with the same team. What will happen tomorrow if the intimidator fails to intimidate? Again? As Marion disappears for quarters at a time and they continue to be outrebounded by a wide margin, will the Suns feel an added pressure to make every shot? What if there’s more foul trouble waiting for them? Will they have to forego their plans for second round rest and acknowledge that this series isn’t over yet? Home court or not, do they really want a best of three with Kobe Bryant? Will they feel that dream slipping away? Again?

As the final buzzer sounded on Game 3, Smush Parker attempted a dunk that would have put an exclamation point on the jubilant roars of the Staples Center. He was fouled by Raja Bell, and Mike D’Antoni was incensed by Parker’s supposed lack of sportsmanship. Or was he trying to motivate his team through this perceived slight to keep their spirits up? To alleviate the tension? Anything to keep them from remembering this?

Can it happen again?

I don’t doubt it.


20 Responses to “Doubt Is A Four Letter Word.”

  1. Well, you KNEW I’d have my comments.

    Dirk’s honesty is to be admired in one sense, but OTOH, he’s a professional athlete and the presumed MVP of the league. His admission is a sign of weakness that is unforgivable. And truly shows why tomorrows announcement of him as league MVP will be, IMO, the final nail in the coffin to whatever legitimacy the award has.

    In my mind, Miami was never the favorite over Chicago. That team has been injured, unmotivated, fat, lazy and rapidly aging all season long. Game three was a watershed for them though because in their minds, the thought must have come to them that Miami was going to at least win game 3. Now I see the Heat falling completely apart in game 4. They’ll make a run in the second and early third quarters but by mid third they’ll be toast.

    As to the Suns/Lakers.

    The Lakers finally pressuring Nash with our very quick and very big Lamar is finally exposing him for what he is. A very good PG, made to look much better than he is by rules changes designed to help the athletically challenged compete with their betters and a system that perfectly makes uses of the limited amount of talent he has. Steve is by far and away the worst multiple MVP there has ever been and the fact that his MVP’s are greater than those of Shaq and Kobe combined just illustrates, in stark detail and for all the world to see how invalid the award is and will be as long as media whores vote for the award.

    Amare says he’s got something up his sleeve for Kwame……Good luck with that Amare. Dude is 2 inches taller and outweighs you by 50 lbs. Yeah, you jump higher and quicker but he moves his feet better than you do and he can stop you from getting position in the post. Good luck and you better hope to hell your J is faling because you won’t be scoring in the low post.

    The Suns say they will try to counter the Lakers by running faster. But that doesn;t really address WHY the Lakers were able to come back from 17 down in game 3. 19-6. That’s the differential in offensive boards. And if I’m a Suns fan that number is chiling. The Lakers have finally realized that they can simply overpower the Suns down low and when they want to, let Kobe completely shred their defense while taking it to the hole.

    I have contended for some time that Marion is the most over-rated player in the league. He’s a PURE GARBAGE player. He’s a great athlete, is a terror to box out and is a good off the ball shot blocker. And THAT’S IT! He has no post game to speak of, his outside shot is from below his shoulders and completely depends on him being wide open. Put him on a team not named the Suns and he’s not nearly as good as Iguodala let alone real players like LeBron, T-Mac, Carter and other legitimate dual forwards.

    The Suns are gonna be in a WORLD of hurt this afternoon and they better watch their backs, I can easily see the Lakers winning the next three.

  2. Addendum. I meant to put Kwame as well in the paragraph about Nash.

  3. I mean, as a Mavs fan, I see the writing on the wall. The Mavericks have run into a perfect storm. Let’s look at how the Mavs won 67 games
    1. Execution on defense
    2. Being faster than the other team
    3. Superior coaching
    4. Hunger from the bitterness of the playoff loss/choke/screwjob

    Now, if you notice, Phoenix is their better in category 2, and their equal in category 3 and 4. Only slightly worse in category 1, hence they cannot beat Phoenix. As to the Warriors, they are so superior in category #2 it makes them superior in category #1 as well. Dallas can’t score easily, nor can they defend because they aren’t fast enough. In category #3 they are at a distinct disadvantage, since Nelly knows the Mavs, and taught Avery. Still they could win, except that they are also VERY lacking in category 4. GS just wants it more, each one playing for their own personal vindication as well as carrying the hopes of a playoff-starved city. The franchise is “new” to the playoffs, but Baron, Jackson etc are not rookies.

    It sucks that they’re playing a #8 seed that woulda been 5 or 6 without injuries, but if you can’t beat the other teams you don’t deserve to say you’re champs. Dallas was built to beat SA, Detroit, Miami, Houston etc. They probably would have had problems with Phoenix, but given their current nightmare, they might not get to find out.

  4. Well, so much for my bold prediction. We had them where we wanted them until late in the second. We had a good tempo, Kwame was abusing Amare down low, it looked like we were gonna tie the series. Then we tried to play their game. We stopped going inside, started to run with them, stopped crashing the boards. They played their game and stuck to their plan, we OTOH, did exactly what we said we couldn’t, try to play at their tempo. We played dumb with no sense of discipline. We deserved to lose.

  5. If you want another example of that form of doubt, manifested more in disbelief, Marv Albert noted a few quotes from the Raptors’ Chris Bosh about his surprise about the intensity in the playoffs. Too honest by half, and the Nets have been flirting with 30 point leads for most of the game.

    KevDog – it wasn’t so much the second quarter to me, it was the third where all hell broke loose for the Lakers and they got sloppy, but the rest of your assessment is dead on. It looked like a great, close game for a half, and then the Suns said, “Try and run with us,” and the Lakers said, “we will,” despite the lack of talent to do it.

  6. TheLastPoet Says:

    My man KevDog,

    I feel your pain, hey, my Knicks don’t even have the luxury of making the playoffs these days! And I know you’re mostly down on Smush. But when Smush falters, at least the Lakes have some other options to turn to in Farmar and Sasha (and Shammond, I guess, if you really wanna call that an option…).

    But your real problem, to me, is the big man you seem to like a little better than Smush, Mr Kwame Brown. The young man is a waste of size and talent. Sadly, Mike Jordan and Doug Collins kicked him so hard when he was down in DC that he will never amount to much of anything. At best, he could be a homeless man’s Dwight Howard, i.e., a big athletic body that rebounds, dunks, and blocks shots, but has absolutely no post game, and absolutely no savoir-faire. Add to that his general lack of enthusiasm for the game, how he bitches at and blames his own teammates for his mistakes, his lack of toughness (he’s so injury-prone, his own coach called him a pussy), his hands of steel, and (when he does manage to hang on to the ball) his propensity to miss layups and putbacks. Add all that together, ladies and gentlemen, and I present to you the Lakes’ very best big man! Damn shame, with the proper guidance, the kid coulda been great. But he never will be, cuz if he was gonna do anything in the L, he woulda done so by now.

    Naaah, man, the Lakes need a complete overhall this offseason. You can blame injuries all you want. But they need more talent. Meanwhile, the greatness of Mr Bryant’s prime years is spiraling down around the third level of hell in the Lake Show Inferno.

  7. LP. thanks for the words of consolation. I know how frustrating it must be to be a Knicks fan these days. I’d be interested on your take on Isiah, the Doolans and the general overall prognosis of the team.

    As to Kwame, Man, It’s kinda like when I was in in Junior High School and Paulette McNeely was going to give me her number after school(Now it should be noted that Ms. Neely went on to her own measure of fame as she is the mother of one of Eddie Murphy’s children) only to have her decide to give it to a dude named Lewis instead. Dude was a little, hell, a lot taller, a little better looking and apparently, had rich parents, or at least a mother AND a father. So all the hope and promise was gone, but man, for the next two years, whenever she smiled at me or called me by name, I thought she had finally seen the light and was just this far away from turning the corner on me. So it goes with Kwame. Just this side of paradise.

    The tragedy of Kobe and Garnett both playing for organizations that have surrounded them with unrealized potential and too little talent is heartbreaking. They both deserve better. Jon Barry damn near gave that arrogant prick Steve Nash a BJ on air yesterday while the greatest player in the game was an afterthought. Here’s hoping that KG demands a trade to the Lakers to be with Kobe, or barring that, that Jermaine O’Neal does. I’d be willing to give up Kwame, Vlad, Luke and a few others for JO. We pick him up, sign Rashard Lewis in the offseason and we’re in business


    With a couple of moves, we could be running things for a half a decade.

  8. maxairington Says:

    Ugh. That ‘s all I have to say about the Lakers. Seriously.

    But watching the ‘MVP’ choke and ‘The most dominant player ever’ get swept for the FIFTH TIME did brighten my day a bit. How many people are scrambling for their ballots right now?

    Too late.

  9. TheLastPoet Says:

    No doubt.

    Ric Bucher actually said something interesting over at (and, hell no, I’m not a Bucher fan!): “Has the MVP ever had to fly in from vacation to accept his award?”

    I found that shid funny, holmes.

    Stern better hustle up and dole out the MVP before game six of Oaktown-Mavs, or else…

    And in (some) fairness to Shaq, the game has moved away from even the mere possibility of a post player being dominant both offensively and defensively these days (even Tim Be Dunkin, Garnett, and Yao can disappear for long stretches of games)…

    Back to that Lakes-Suns game. First of all, I’ma pour out a lil liquor for you, Paulette, and what could have been… Why was I just reminiscing with one of my boys about them good girls who somehow got away (and left us with these ball-n-chain ass, hydra-headed, fire breathin she devils also called wives? Naah the Poet ain’t bitter…) Mine was Charlene McCoy from Stevenson High in the Bronx. A late bloomer, she didn’t get to jinglin til Senior year, but my third eye was hip to her potential since we wuz sophmores. Charlene, sweatheart, are ya out there? (Thank God I don’t use my real name!) Hmmm, ok, if I apply the same Charlene late bloomin honey from the Bronx treatment to ur boy Kwame, then maybe he still got a chance. Otherwise… I dunno. Kwame The Boy Genius was a softish 80s-early 90s emcee from NYC, and Kwame the boy Brown is a softish new millennium power forward-center currently masquerading for the Lake Show.

    And yeah. I had to turn the volume down and put on some music when Barry, and especially Mike Breen, got to preening for Steve Nash. Breen is particulary good at subtly, but effectively, blitzing players he doesn’t like. He’s the Knicks’ play-by-play guy, he’s actually getting paid by Cablevision/Madison Square Garden, but he hates the Knicks! When he gets on a negative roll, he can make the games unwatchable for real fans.

    Speaking of my Knicks, my heart is too heavy to offer much analysis of the team or their season at this time. I’m sure you understand. Give me some time. Anyway, anything I say will be copied word for word from my man Stop Mike Lupica’s website of the same name! He and I, and precious few others, are some of the last of the real Knicks fans.

  10. maxairington Says:

    Jon Barry’s opinion shouldn’t be given any more weight than it deserves. It’s almost as bad as getting mad at Tom Tolbert. I didn’t care for his comments at first, but he was doing his best to be evenhanded. Especially when Lakers not named Kobe couldn’t make an open shot.

    What was funny to me was when he said “Steve Nash makes those spectacualr passes because he isnt afraid to turn the ball over.”

    Thing is, it’s true. But the question remains, how are Nash’s volume turnovers any different from Kobe’s volume shooting? Especially when Kobe is a SHOOTING guard and the primary offensive option?

  11. maxairington Says:

    And Shaq gets no fairness. If you’re gonna call yourself the most dominant player ever and you’ve played with three different versions of Jordan’s heir apparent, THEN DON”T GET SWEPT! ESPECIALLY NOT FIVE SEPERATE TIMES! Seriously, how can he not win ONE game by himself if he’s so f*cking dominant?

    Kobe is still taking sh*t for Shaq’s departure when THIS is why he’s gone. He’s a shell of himself and he wanted a raise.

    He’s making $20 mil per for the next three years. Miami will be crippled until he retires.

    One of these days I’m gonna go out on a limb and call Shaq one of the most overrated players of all time.

  12. TheLastPoet Says:

    My damn. Tell em why you mad, Max!

    Seriously, I feel what you sayin. Shaq don’t play more than half a season, whether he’s injured or not, know what I mean? And D-Wil and I have had internet conversations before in which he made a strong case against Shaq as being petty and jealous of other talented, but harder working players. I can sign on, more or less, with all of that, plus most everything you say above. But still, you don’t think the game has become much more difficult for the tradional low-post scorer?

  13. maxairington Says:

    Tim Duncan?

  14. TheLastPoet Says:

    hell ya tim be dunkin, too.

    why do you think he whines so much!

  15. maxairington Says:

    I don’t know if the game has passed the traditional back to basket player by, the rule changes for guards have skewed the game, or if there just aren’t any more cause players think they’ve evolved beyond that game with their athleticism. Shaq didn’t really have an excellent back to the basket game or astounding footwork, he was big and strong as hell and he was a great passer out of the double. Is Duncan is so fundamentally sound because he needs those moves more? He’s not blowing by or jumping over anyone. Most other talneted power forwards can, and those who can’t can go to the trey. Even a beast like STAT lives off of the pick n roll and lobs. He faces the basket more often than not to use his speed and quickness.

    He has some post moves, but how many player besides Duncan bother to even learn them all?

    I remember a quote from KG talking about how even when kids go to college, they don’t come out knowin how to exectue a proper pick or dropstep. Why is that?

    It’s not fair to just blame it on the players who have taken the bigs game to the perimeter like Dirk, when that could just be another dimension to a well developed game rather than an alternative style. Imagine if Dirk could effectively roll off of either shoulder into a hook shot? Or if he went to the up and under more? He has the size and athleticism, but this is just one more instance of him doing nothing to shake that label of ‘soft’. This season he made a conscious effort to take less threes and go to the post, but one game into the series he retreated to the perimeter cause he couldn’t handle the trapping and swarming of smaller Golden State defenders. He should at least be passing out of those doubles into assists or passes that lead to assists, Golden State’s D is not THAT good. He would be able to do that with an effective-or existent post game and that versatility would be the difference in the series. But he got an MVP instead.

    Dwight Howard, Yao, Greg Oden, and hell, even Eddy Curry are all players that will keep the position alive because they have the size and talent to dominate and demand a double, they’re moderate to excellent passers, and they like Duncan are reliant on the fundamentals of a back to the basket game.

  16. TheLastPoet Says:

    Well the 2nd half of your first paragraph proves my point, kinda. When 6-10/7-0+ players must go to their athleticism, or the pick-n-roll, or the 3 pt’er in order to be effective, then the post game is dead. And when your MVP (Dirk), a 7-footer, cannot go to the post consistently, and no one holds it against him (no one who votes for the MVP, anyway), then the post game is dead. And when rules changes allow greater penetration for guards, and to touch the guards when they come into the paint is to foul them; or, on the flip side, when executing footwork and turning into the basket from either block begets a defensive flop, which in turn begets an offensive foul on the post player, then even the quality big men you mentioned cannot stay on the court. Ergo, the post game is dead. And Shaq no longer has a chance to compete.

    I mean, I can buy into the belief that Shaq is lazy, unmotivated, childish, etc. I can agree that he should have won more titles than the four he has been a part of. But to say that he never dominated, or that he never won a game by himself. I’m not sure I can sign off on that. I think he won a few games by himself, or damn near, during his lone MVP campaign. Perhaps the reason why he didn’t win more games by himself have to do with the same reasons why any talented big man would struggle with this feat, ie., post players need willing passers to feed them the ball. But that hasn’t always been the case in Shaq’a career, has it?

  17. […] Nowitzki does not equal MVP. I can’t count how many times I’ve said that – and then maxairington dances on (D)Irk’s head (yes, we do insult to injury here). Well, now the world knows why he’s just another 7′ […]

  18. maxairington Says:

    I see what you’re sayin about the post game, but I just think that players ahve abandoned it more than anything. Even with the aforementioned rule changes I don’t think the game can ever evolve beyond the fundamentals.

    And Stu did pledge to take down flopping. Perhaps well see some new rules next year that will make room for Oden?

    I’m not sayin Shaq never dominated. He certainly won more than a few games by himself, I’m just sayin that he was the beneficiary of three excellent guards who carried him when he didn’t feel like working very hard, and that was quite often.

    For all of the shots he took at Kobe in “The Last Season”, Phil Jackson did clearly state that Kobe got the ball to Shaq in his sweet spots better than anyone in the league could.

    I like Shaq. Really. For all the same reasons that everyone else does. He’s the Big Quotable. The Big Aristotle. The Big, whatever. But he also used that image of being the fun loving gentle giant to cover up a multitude of sins.

    Sorry if this is kinda late.

  19. maxairington Says:

    Oh, and as far as Dirk collecting himself for tonight’s DO OR DIE game?

    “I got to take what they give me and they don’t really give me a lot,” said Nowitzki, who is averaging 20 points and has yet to score more than 23. “So I’ve got to make other stuff happen — help out on defense more; hit the glass harder, as hard as I can, get some extra possessions; if I have a shot, try to knock it down and if I don’t, move the ball and let someone else make a shot.”

    Nowitzki rarely boasts. Talk of “fitting in” is more typical than predicting a big game.

    Yet would Michael Jordan talk about passing more when his shot wasn’t falling? Did Kareem Abdul-Jabbar focus on rebounds when his sky hook was missing the mark? And how many titles did their I’m-going-to-score-no-matter-what attitudes produce?

    The answer is enough to explain why coach Avery Johnson was angered by Nowitzki’s comments, which are typical of his attitude throughout this series.

    “I’m tired of hearing about how they’ve taken him out of his game and any lack of confidence. You’re just not supposed to have that, all right,” said Johnson, perhaps team’s most intense player even though he’s no longer playing.

    “I wasn’t the best of players and didn’t have the best of skills, but you were not going to shake my confidence. We need all of our players to be confident, to be resilient, to be persistent and that’s what I want to see tomorrow. If I don’t see it at shootaround, I’m going to be highly upset … because I need to have it going into that game tomorrow night. We’ve got to be confident and really sure about what we’re doing.”


  20. LP, let me just say about your relationship with the Knicks.
    At least your boy Marbury is thrwing down some rightious shit with his shoe line. That’s more than can be said for virtually any other star in the league. As much as I love Kobe, and as much as it didn’t pain me in particular, I just spent $130 on some Kobe’s. That’s just too damn much.

    Got lucky in the wife department, waited until I was 39, patience makes all the difference.

    As to Charlene, well, at least you’ll always have her in your minds eye. Reminds me of Louis Amrstrong’s version of Stardust.

    Sometimes I wonder why I spend
    Such lonely nights
    oh baby lonely nights
    dreaming of a song
    The melody haunts my reverie
    And I am once again with you
    When our love was new, oh baby
    And each kiss an inspiration
    Now that baby you know was long ago

    Oh beside a garden wall
    When stars are bright
    You are in my arms
    The nightingale tells his fairy tale
    A paradise where roses bloom
    Though I dream in vain
    In my heart it will remain baby
    My stardust melody
    Oh memory oh memory oh memory

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