Before the season, and early during it, the man was Kevin Durant. The former Longhorn represented ‘good’ on this earth because Kobe Bryant was too old to any longer do it; he represented ‘good’ because Lebron James was our ‘evil’; there had to be ‘good’ for there to be an ‘evil.’
Durant is gone, fishing or perhaps at home, biding his time until his day comes (or perhaps when Russell Westbrook is dealt for something resembling a competent NBA point guard.) In the wake of the destruction, Dirk Nowitzki emerged, bringing his Mavericks to the Finals on the strength of one of the most impressive stretches of basketball ever played.
Dirk is great, a figure of whom discussion will be held for the next three decades, a likable man with an irreplicable repertoire; Red94 wholly endorses Dirk.
That’s why it’s so upsetting, is so obnoxious, that he’s been pulled, is being used in the mainstream media’s ever-persistent need for narrative. Every mention of the man, whether in print or broadcast, is suffixed by remembrance of his resolve, reflection upon his loyalty to the Mavericks; “he stayed with one team; he didn’t go team up with other superstars.”
Do we really have to do this? I think everyone has gotten the point by now that the Miami Heat are ‘evil’ for joining forces. It doesn’t need to be drilled home through constant subtle reminders. And let’s be honest: the comparison is a bit disingenuous, to say the least. No, Dirk never played with a player of Dwyane Wade’s caliber, but he wasn’t exactly running with Mo Williams either. Nowitzki’s Mavs teams during his tenure have been stocked to the brim with All-Star caliber options (Nash, Finley, Howard, Harris, Walker, Jamison, Marion, Butler, Kidd, Terry etc.) by an ownership obsessed with success. Furthermore, the Big 2 (James, Wade) weren’t exactly blowing up Dirk’s cell to join them in South Beach; what options did Dirk have this summer that made staying in Dallas so benevolent?
While I’m falling on deaf ears, can we please for once just appreciate players for who they are, irrespective of their peers? The need for narrative and juxtaposition is childish and tired. Dirk Nowitzi and Kevin Durant are great players for who they are and what they’ve accomplished, not because they do things differently than Lebron James.