We’ve asked our stable off scribes to take one last look back at the 2011 NBA playoffs.
Years from now, they’ll say this guy made his name in the 2011 playoffs:
Steve Aschburner: There are so many candidates here. Zach Randolph reinvented himself as a trusted cornerstone layer for Memphis. Russell Westbrook showed his skills (and how raw his game still is). Lakers center Andrew Bynum will be living down his thuggish forearm shiver of Dallas’ J.J. Barea for a long time. Dirk Nowtizki brought out the best in the Thunder’s Nick Collison as a big-man defender. Nowitzki himself changed forever the way he’ll be looked at, though his name was “made” long ago. Atlanta’s Jeff Teague had people wondering how Hawks coach Larry Drew buried him behind Mike Bibby for so long. Among the coaches, Frank Vogel, Lionel Hollins and especially Rick Carlisle will be looked at differently now. But I think Miami’s Chris Bosh enhanced his image the most, showing more game than he was allowed for much of the season and staying above the snark and shenanigans that enveloped LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the Finals vs. Dallas. And I agreed with Bosh — he should have gotten more than nine shots in Game 6.
Fran Blinebury: Dirk Nowitzki didn’t make his name. But he re-made his reputation with four rounds of consistently clutch performances that should finally shut up all of the off-base critics who ever believed he was soft. The painful memories of 2006 are buried under a 2011 playoff run that stands up to the best of all time.
Shaun Powell: Is it possible for a former MVP to make his “name” years later? Well. After blistering through the 2011 playoffs, highlighted by an epic 48-point game (12-for-15, 24 straight at the line) and then overcoming a finger injury, a fever and the Big Three in the NBA Finals, we can say that about Dirk Nowitzki.
John Schuhmann: “They” will say Dirk Nowitzki, but I had a pretty high opinion of Dirk before the playoffs began (thought he was a top two or three MVP candidate). So I’ll say Zach Randolph, who hadn’t been in the postseason since 2003. Randolph began to rehab his rep last season, but these playoffs probably changed a lot of people’s opinions of him as a player and a team leader, including mine.
Sekou Smith: Dirk Nowitzki. I know, I know, all we talk about is LeBron James. But “years from now” James might have conquered his Finals stage fright and everyone will remember what was most important about this postseason, and that’s the winners. He made so many big shots at big moments that his highlight tape from the playoffs alone should take weeks to put together. Nowitzki changed his legacy during the Mavericks’ two-month run to the title. So did Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban and basically everyone else affiliated with the Mavericks. Winning it all has a way of doing that.