Henry Abbott is a thoughtful dude, and he’s not new to this watching basketball thing. In his most recent piece at the WWL-hosted TrueHoop, Abbott gets a running start on the Dirk-related idiocy that is going to be enveloping NBA fans like a grossly warm, Woody Paige-scented bath over the coming weeks:
People have a lot of complaints about NBA players. We have all heard them: They are about the money. They don’t care. They don’t work hard. They are hard to relate to. They don’t smile enough. They are self-absorbed and don’t care about others.
Dirk Nowitzki is what those people want. He’s just as nice as people can be. He’s honest. He does great, selfless things far from the limelight. And I am not one of those people who buys the notion that you can’t be both nice off the court and a top competitor.
But Dirk Nowitzki, I fear, is about to be emasculated for, essentially, being a good person without a reliable way to beat long defenders who are much faster than him.
Lost in the shuffle is the notion that he is still one of the NBA’s best players — even during these miserable playoffs. (By) a more sophisticated measure than the naked eye, Nowitzki has still outperformed all but a handful of NBA players, including Kobe Bryant. And his failing was a team one. Plenty of Mavericks underperformed — almost bizarrely so. (I found myself pleading with my television for Avery Johnson to insert Maurice Ager or Austin Croshere, just because at least those guys appeared to have some energy.)
…The MVP is a regular season award, and this was his regular season. But the more Nowitzki is lauded as the MVP, the more he is responsible for his team. And the more he is responsible for the team, the more he has disappointed. I wonder if that trophy will make him feel anything but worse. That little trophy, assuming he gets it, will be, in a perverse way, the precise reason someone somewhere is probably writing a column right now saying that Nowitzki should be traded.
It already got written, actually. And the Dallas Morning News‘s Jean-Jacques Taylor’s take on the Mavs’ situation is about what you’d expect, so I won’t bother quoting much of it, but here’s a taste of the Mighty JJT’s magic:
Warriors 111-Mavericks 86.
Can you say total embarrassment. Blame it on Nowitzki.
Avery Johnson and Mark Cuban disagree.
It’s the truth. You know it is. Like spanking your kids, it hurts.
Can you say serial carriage-return abuse? Anyway, while Dirk was indeed terrible last night, here’s something Taylor should ask before advocating trading Nowitzki: who could the Mavericks get back in a deal that would make the team better? Some Skip Bayless-y doofus — or Skip Bayless himself — is going to say something along the lines of “Robert Horry is better than Dirk, I’d rather have him on my team” today. And while putting Skip’s name on that probably makes my next statement redundant, that’s really stupid. There are some awfully not-good lines on the Mavs’ half of this box score, and only one has Dirk’s name next to it. I also can’t help but think, looking at the personnel on the Golden State side, that their team is actually deeper and perhaps blessed with more scorers, and that they were exceptionally well-prepared and coached in this series. Still, if the Mavs want to deal The Dirk, let me offer, on behalf of Nets fans, Clipper fans, and almost anyone else, whoever the hell Dallas wants. Take any two. Or four. Or six.