HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — It takes a village, they say.
Well, sometimes what it takes is experience and a junkyard collection of useful parts.
Every championship team needs one or more superstars to be the foundation and Dirk Nowitzki has proven to be that throughout his 13-year NBA career.
But the reason that Dirk has been able to battle his way to a 2-2 tie in The Finals and get to the threshold of his first title is because he finally has an assembled supporting cast that has come together to maybe be greater than the sum of the individual parts.
It takes talent to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but quite often it also takes years and plenty of battle scars.
In an excellent Q and A with Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Mavs GM and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson says it’s drive – not age – that matters and he’s quite happy with his team of so-called cast-offs:
Were you concerned when you were putting this team together that you have so many 30-somethings?
“I’ll tell you what, what people call 30-somethings or old, we call experienced. Just give me guys that have heart. I don’t care how tall they are, they could be 4-foot-1 like JJ, they could be 40-year-old like our point guard…give me a guy with heart, and you’ll win most games.”
What about (DeShawn) Stevenson’s performance so far?
“I joke about this a lot, but you look at our team and we’re like the movie, Castoffs. Our superstar is a “superstar…but.” Then you go right down the list. JJ (Barea) is too small, Jason Kidd is too old. Jason Terry in the Stevie Nash booby prize. Tyson Chandler and (Peja) Stojakovic are damaged goods, y’know. All of our guys are like this. D-Steve was a throw-in on the Caron Butler deal. They saw a long-term contract that they wanted to get that off of their books, and we saw a guy that was 6-5 and tough as nails and just needed to get dusted off a little bit. And I really think that’s the story. We don’t have a superman who is going to have from the free throw line and slam over people. We’ve got to do it the good old fashioned way with team defense. As they say, the sum of the parts, that’s what we’re all about.”
There was a time when the Mavs had their Big Three lineup of Nowitzki, Nash and Michael Finley and couldn’t ever make the long climb up. Now here they are with a glimpse of the mountaintop.
Sometimes what it takes is the hunger of empty bellies.