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This Is What Dirk Is Up Against For MVP

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Dirk's biggest opponent doesn't seem to be Steve Nash but bias, fussbudgety, and stupidity. Good thing Dirk doesn't care about the award because those are things that can be hard to overcome.

Here are a few examples I've come across just today.

First there is Bethlehem Shoals at Free Darko.
All this may be fantastically the case, and yet I long for what was. Remember how in He Got Game, Denzel gets all misty over the early Earl Monroe? Well, in my mistaken identification with the people who once slayed so many of my kin, I have a similar panoramic warmth associated with Nowitzki under Don Nelson. He can still score from anywhere, and will if appropriate--provided he's not choking or fading. That's not the same, though, as knowing he was going to score from wherever just because he could. Like LeBron, or Kobe, or Durant, Dirk once was a player who decided he had to score and then thrilled you proving he could. Perhaps he's wiser now, looking for cues and stoking a trembling economy of function. To me, though, this is not how legends are made, and exactly why "Dirk for MVP" lacks sizzle.

Come to think of it, has anyone thought to correlate Dirk's nagging disappearances with Avery-ball? That maybe it's exactly because of the new way in which Nowitzki is deployed that he sometimes comes up short? Despite his background, maybe this one-of-a-kind dangling bean is born to run, to make things happen rather than be hedged in by context. Even when the Mavs go crazy, it's a far more regimented, iterative offense than was every induced under Nelson. Especially, for some reason, with regard to Dirk. I might be exaggerating this for effort's sake, but at this very moment I feel like Nowitzki has gone from the avatar of Nellie's regime to Avery's prized pupil. This may win games, but at what price?
The argument seems to boil down to Dirk being too German -- the "ultimate basketball machine" (key word machine, without a soul). He shoots 50/40/90, he passes out of double teams, he rebounds, and he wins. If only he weren't so boring...


Ian Thomsen has some similar thoughts in his article today.
The Suns couldn't earn close to their current 55 wins without Nash. Plus Nash is just so easy to cheer for. He's the rare NBA underdog in a league dominated by intimidating athletes.

The same underdog case can be made for Nowitzki. Among the myriad stars at power forward he is the least impressive athlete, forcing him to compensate by scoring in unorthodox ways. But Nash has an unequaled flair: He rules the NBA in the same way that Doug Flutie used to command college football, and it's going to be interesting to see how the voters weigh the relative values of each player.
So now he's boring and too tall. A bit nitpicky don't you think?


And here's my favorite, the voice of the stupid -- Sam Smith in today's Chicago Tribune.
An aside on Nash. You'd almost hate to see him win MVP for a third straight season because Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar never did. And though Dallas should win more than 65 games, it's difficult to continue to consider Dirk Nowitzki the MVP the way he continues to disappear in big games.
This sounds like someone who has watched two Mavs games all season -- the two losses to Phoenix. And besides, the MVP is based on the regular season, and for this team there are no big games in the regular season, those will come in June and July.
One or two games should not determine the award, but great players, the MVPs, understand when it's a big game and rise to the occasion. You never saw Jordan or Magic or Larry Bird slough off a loss in the regular season. Plus, Nowitzki came up small in the Finals last year.
He's right, Dirk had a disappointing Finals. But where was Nash? Oh yeah, he's never even been to the Finals and was knocked out by Dallas (thanks to big performances by Dirk like this one).
Though Dallas has been the team of the season, the difference is not the change in Nowitzki; it's the way coach Avery Johnson has driven the Mavericks on defense. The character of the team has changed, which is why the Mavs figure to be a better playoff team.
OK fine, but you better be voting for Avery as Coach of the Year then. Sam Smith, you're on notice.