Throw it down, big man! Throw it DOWN!! And welcome, welcome, one and all, to the pinnacle of human acheivement, the center of the basketball universe, the NBA Finals! And although I begin today's irregular and irreverent dispatch with my trademark introductory greeting, it could not be any less true than it is on this morning. For there is no joy in Miamiville, friends and neighbors. Mighty Shaquille has been blown out.
And while the big man huffed and puffed and did his best to blow the Mavs' house in, his gargantuan body and his even more gargantuan talent were not enough. For the Mavericks of Dallas - oft maligned this campaign for their lack of focus and interest on the defensive end of the floor - sprung their merciless trap, and ensnared in their grasp the mighty Shaq. Try as he might, the big man was unable to overcome their double and triple teams, their zone coverage denser than a pint of Cherry Garcia, so dense that it appeared at times to be like five moons encircling a distant alien planet.
But when Shaquille, like the seasoned warrior that he is, attempted to find a teammate that was inevitably left open by this collapsing coverage, the sharpshooters were left to take aim, which on this day was not true. Jason Williams finished with 3 for 10 on jump shot opportunities while making only 1 of 4 three-point jump shots. Similarly, Gary Payton finished 1 of 4 overall. Even superstar Dwyane Wade needed 19 shots to score 23 points, and was like the waves on the white cliffs of Dover, dashing himself incessantly against the ramparts with endless drives to the basket, when jump shots, in their discretion, may have proved the better part of valor on this day.
But give credit to this Dallas Mavericks franchise for finding the will to win, and the will to compete on the defensive boards. They are to be commended. And they WILL win this series in a sweep. There is just no way around it. Shaquille O'Neal is utterly and completely by himself, and even as mighty a soldier as Shaquille - truly the Achilles of the planet's modern era - can not a phalanx of enemies single-handedly defeat. So until next time, this is Bill Walton, saying throw it DOWN, big fella! Throw it DOOOWWWWWNN!!!!!
Washington Post news article
Washington Post Michael Wilbon column, much of with which I agree
Miami Herald story on what went wrong
My own personal home page
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