Thursday, November 22, 2007

That Kid was Special

Last night Dallas came back from 17 down against Houston, which gives me an excuse to tell about the best regular-season Maverick game I’ve ever seen.

The game was April 11, 1995, near the end of Jason Kidd’s rookie season and just four days after his first career triple-double. It ended up having probably the wildest ending of any NBA game I’ve ever seen.

For starters, the defending-champion Rockets started the 4th quarter with a 12-point lead, but Dallas made a run and took an 8-point lead with just over a minute left.

If it had ended like that, it would have been a pretty exciting game for Mavericks fans, but then things got crazy. Houston scored 13 points in the last 30 seconds of regulation (capped by a Sam Cassell 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left) to force overtime. Houston then jumped out quickly at the start of overtime to take a 13-point lead, and it looked like Houston would win after all.

But then, with just a minute left in overtime, Dallas came to life. In that last minute, Dallas scored 14 points, including three three-pointers by Kidd –– who normally was a mediocre jump-shooter at best. One of those shots (I can’t remember which one) was a one-handed sideways miracle heave that Kidd somehow made while leaping across the three-point line to save clock time. The third of those came with 2.5 seconds left, forcing double OT.

Dallas went on to take over at the end of the second OT and finally won 157-147, scoring the last 10 points of the game.

By the end of the game, Kidd had his second career triple-double, with 38 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. Dallas and Houston combined for an NBA-record 28 3-pointers for the game, and Kidd had 8 all by himself. The teams also set an NBA record by combining for 46 points in the first OT.

So that's 3 sizeable leads overcome (1 in less than a minute, 1 in less than 30 seconds), 2 buzzer-beating three-pointers, 2 nba records, a triple-double for the rookie Kidd, and a total score (304) that hasn't been topped in the 11 years since that game.

As much as I talk about Dirk, Jason Kidd is still probably my favorite Maverick ever. I went to his first NBA game as a rookie in 1994, where he missed a triple-double by one assist, and I’ve been a fan ever since. It’s sad that Dallas traded him after just two and a half years. (Blame Jim Cleamons for that, if I remember correctly.)

By the way, if anyone knows where I could buy a copy of this game tape, please let me know. Or get it for me for Christmas.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Entertainment vs. Winning

Jeremy wrote: The purpose of a pro basketball team is to make money for its owners. If entertaining basketball were more profitable than winning basketball, every team would play like the Harlem Globetrotters.

I have to disagree. The Globetrotters are only fun to watch for one game every once in awhile. The most entertaining basketball to watch for a whole season is excellence with style. And the most successful basketball (i.e., that wins titles) is excellence with a dominant big man.

The Suns have the highest combination of excellence and style, which is why people love watching them; unfortunately, you just can’t seem to win in the NBA without a big man (Stoudemire might get there, but who knows?), so their excellence can only get them so far.

Dirk has mostly excellence without much style, but when he's hitting everything from the outside it's still fun to watch, because he can put up so many points so fast. Plus Howard and Terry, and maybe Harris, all play with style, which takes up some of the slack for Dirk. And then Dampier and Diop are enough of a presence in the paint that Dallas has a pretty good shot at a title, too.

The Spurs don’t have much style at all with the exception of Ginobili, which is why everyone complains about watching them. But they obviously have excellence combined with a dominant big man, so they have titles. It’s just that they’re mostly only entertaining for their own fans.

I need to do a post on why I think we like watching pro sports so much. Maybe next week.