Day 4 without games in the NBA Playoffs, as the Western Conference Finals has been a while ago, now….and I..am…needing….basketball…soon…
Here is some Day 4 Hype:
In Miami, here is a feature on Dirk …
He is a hybrid, a new dimension all unto himself, a Teutonic giant who shoots rainbows with the touch of a feather -- Germany's answer to Larry Bird and more -- a seven-foot wunderkind.
He is the face of a franchise that lies deep in the heart of Texas -- light years away from the Fatherland -- an irony that is never lost here in Big D amid the cowboy hats and deep-twang accents, in a town where T-shirts are sold that read ``Dirk is My Homeboy.''
Dirk Nowitzki is that and much more, and as he steps into the harsh spotlight this week on the biggest stage of his career, Nowitzki is not only the man who will try to lead the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA title, but he is perhaps the future of the NBA itself.
''The game is changing and the rules are changing,'' said the Heat's Shaquille O'Neal, who will face the problems Nowitzki's rare mobility brings to his position.
``The NBA centers are going more toward the European player. I tell my kids you won't be able to play the game your daddy played. It's becoming a different game.
''He [Nowitzki] is where the big-man game will be in four or five years,'' O'Neal added. ``When you talk great big men, it'll be based on whether guys can play like Dirk or not. Stepping out, shooting the three, midrange game and the low-post game. I'm going to actually let my children watch his game.''
Nowitzki was overwhelmed by O'Neal's comments.
''That's pretty sweet,'' Nowitzki said.
In Dallas, it is all-hail Dirk …
One play convinced Johnson, possibly because it was the play that happened to save the Mavericks from playoff extinction against San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals.
"Dirk's drive against the Spurs," Johnson said Tuesday of Nowitzki's move to the basket that ended with a three-point play and forced overtime in Game 7. "I mean, I'm too young to be his father. But I felt like a big brother. Do you know how many times he worked on that? That I've told him, that's not going to work in the playoffs, you shooting a 25-foot fadeaway? Or your pick-and-pop? It's not going to work."
Nowitzki isn't the only one. But as the franchise player on a team that has truly reached maturity this season, Nowitzki can be the face that is no longer pockmarked with acne. All the blemishes have cleared up on the Mavericks.
"Avery has always told us that we have to expand our game," Nowitzki said. "That's been a big key for this team since training camp."
And Johnson knew it was a long process. It wasn't going to happen in November. But he kept hammering away. Sooner or later, Johnson knew he would either get the players' attention or the backlash would be overwhelming.
What had to happen between learning what won't work and what would was that the team had to trust Johnson. And vice versa.
Mark Stein picks the series …
This series will be played at a speed that drains Shaq's effectiveness. I'm also figuring that Howard's length and activity will nag Wade more than this flu he can't shake.
The Mavs, furthermore, are better equipped than anyone Miami has seen in the playoffs so far to expose the two biggest weaknesses these Heaters have been dealing with since Riley re-did the roster:
• A shaky perimeter defense that exposes Shaq to extra fouls trying to protect the rim.
• A lack of consistent perimeter shooting to space the floor for Shaq and Wade.
I suspect that Riley had accounted for all of the above when he told reporters in Miami the other day that he'd be "relieved" to win it all for the first time since 1988 … as opposed to delirious with joy. (Shaq and Zo insist that the 61-year-old has mellowed, but only so much apparently.)
One problem that I see: if Howard is on Wade, then what do we do when Howard is on the bench with 3 fouls before the first quarter is over? I don’t like Howard as a full time defender, because he doesn’t have the ability to defend without fouling over 48 minutes…
Seems kind of a weird time of year to write this, but Peter King wants Michael Irvin in the Hall of Fame …
Michael Irvin, WR, Dallas. Three knocks on Irvin I always hear. 1) He cheated: He held and pass-interfered when the officials couldn't see. 2) He was a mess off the field. 3) Dallas will have Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith (and maybe Larry Allen) in the Hall when this era's team is considered. That's enough. Poppycock. This man was the leader of the Cowboys, pure and simple. The leader. And he was a great player who simply refused to lose. I know it's a cliché, but ask anyone around that team -- Aikman, Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Jones. It's absurd he hasn't made it. And re: the off-the-field stuff, we are not allowed to bring those considerations into the meeting room. Only what happened between the lines should matter. Catching 750 balls for a three-time Super Bowl winner and being the key guy in the locker room on game days ... that should make him a gimme.
Insider says Drew Henson was the best player in Europe …
1. QB Drew Henson, Rhein Fire (allocated by Dallas Cowboys)
Henson is a household name we have all heard about and at first glance he is a higher profile guy than we are used to seeing in NFLE. However, Henson is a player who still needs game experience and live snaps. Henson's biggest problem in his young NFL career has been his inability to read defenses, process information, and make quick decisions … and that's what you do in these game situations. He has all the physical skills that you are looking for and he is coming off a season for Rhein in which he completed 109 of 209 passes for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns, but most importantly, he threw only three interceptions. The latter statistic leads you to believe that his decision making has improved. So, where does Henson fit in the Cowboys' plans? He will compete again with Tony Romo to be backup quarterback behind aging starter Drew Bledsoe. However, with Bledsoe near the end of his career, the Cowboys must decide whether Romo or Henson is their quarterback of the future and Henson's positive performance in NFLE should raise his confidence level entering training camp.
Edmonton needs a goalie …trouble is, neither of them have ever started a playoff game….
Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen call it a second chance. Critics suggest it's more likely the fourth or fifth, maybe the sixth, for those keeping score at home.
Pick a number, any number, but whatever digit you choose, Conklin or Markkanen will get it tonight when the Edmonton Oilers face the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final without Dwayne Roloson.
What makes either of them think they can fill the skates left vacant by Roloson?
"It's just confidence in yourself," said Conklin, who allowed the winning goal by Rod Brind'Amour with 32 seconds to play in a 5-4 loss Monday after taking over when Roloson went down.
Ed Belfour’s son tries out for the Tornado …
Texas Tornado Head Coach and General Manager Tony Curtale, has a reputation of having Tornado players with an NHL flavor, and this weekend's Texas Tornado Tryout Camp in Michigan will be no exception. Over 120 players will compete for a spot on the 2006-07 Texas Tornado roster to compete for a 4th straight NAHL National Championship, and one of those will be goaltender Dayne Belfour, son of former Dallas Stars goaltender Ed Belfour.
The camp begins Thursday, June 8th at the Farmington Hills Ice Arena in suburban Detroit, Michigan, with two goalies only sessions. Friday-Sunday, the remainder of the forwards and defensemen will join the goaltenders for a weekend of competition and a spot on arguably the best junior A team in the United States the past three years. The Michigan camp is one of two tryout camps that the Tornado will hold this summer. The other will be July 27-30 at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco, Texas.
The Red Wings ponder moves …
Sam Jackson and U2 …
Reese offers me the demolition of the Chinese Dam …That is awesome!!!
The long touted amazing unintentional comedy of Bill Shatner’s Rocket Man …