Thursday, May 26, 2011

05/26 (Win or Bust) Quickie

Today's storylines: Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant vs. Expectations, Wilson Valdez vs. Buster Posey, Mike Brown vs. Kobe Bryant, Lightning vs. Bruins,

A common theme I write about here is the power of expectations, and it was on full display last night

*Marvel at Dirk's reaction to winning the Western Conference title:


That's because the conference title is meaningless to him. All that matters is the NBA title. Anything less than the NBA title is a failure.

For the past few years, the Mavericks have been one of the few teams that are actually trying to WIN NOW -- that particular season -- accompanied by the expectation of "NBA ring or bust."

And so the West title is necessary but not sufficient. It was refreshing to see Dirk saunter right off the court, not even bothering to do a postgame TV interview, because he couldn't care less.

Aside from not wanting the Heat to win, it's easy to get behind rooting for Dirk and the Mavs in the Finals.

*Meanwhile, there is Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Durant was devastated. Yes, the individual games were a few plays from breaking the other way, yet the series was not close. Durant looked like he was sure he was going to win the NBA title -- or certainly the West title -- and presented the entirely fair idea that he couldn't care less about the Mavs.

And yet the expectations for the Thunder -- let's say preseason (or even at the start of the playoffs) -- were that they would make some steps this season, but not yet be ready to compete for an NBA title. In that respect, they entirely matched their expectations -- perhaps even exceeded them.

If they had won a first-round series then lost in the West semis, the idea would have been "Progress." Getting to the West finals is "Progress!" It is not unreasonable to accelerate OKC's expectations in '11-12 that anything less than winning the West is a failure.

Welcome to real expectations.


*Lightning-Bruins going to Game 7 on Friday. Nothing better in sports than an NHL Playoffs Game 7 with the Stanley Cup Finals on the line (except with the Stanley Cup title on the line).

*Today's Name to Know: Wilson Valdez, the Phillies position player who got the pitching win last night when the Phillies-Reds game went 19 innings. Awesome. Watch this homemade video.

*Buster Posey: Yikes.

*Should the Lakers have consulted Kobe about hiring Mike Brown? Here's the downside: What if Kobe says he's not a fan. Then the Lakers either kowtow to their aging star or mock him by making the hire anyway.

(Here's the thing no one is talking about: The way the Lakers were drummed out of the playoffs this year? That's not going to get better. The Lakers are no more likely to win the NBA title next year -- or beyond -- than they were the day after they got swept out. As of now, they fall in the bucket of "fascinating, but not a real contender." In that case, who cares WHO is coaching? For that matter, if they love Andrew Bynum too much to trade him for Dwight Howard, why not trade Kobe? It's hardly heresy. The only thing keeping Lakers fans from dealing with this is their denial that the window hasn't slammed shut this year.)

Keep up with Quickish all day.

-- D.S.

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