Red River rivalry; NBA style

Soooooooooo the Dallas Mavericks win the Western Conference Finals in game five over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Besides this series being one of the most thrilling I’ve ever watched, it proved to be more informative than entertaining. With the teams being from Oklahoma (born and raised) and Texas (God’s country), I didn’t miss one second of all five games… Here’s what I’m takin’ with me:

Russell Westbrook’s got mad movement – longitudinally and laterally. There’s no denying the kid’s got a ton of growing left to do: emotionally, and recognizing his talent. But Russy! This guy can FLY – in game five he made it down the court in two seconds, he leaped higher and out-rebounded Tyson Chandler, and responded to a need for quickness. After OKC coach Scott Brooks was screaming in the huddle for “All five [of his guys on the floor] to rebound”, Russy was the lone OKC player in the paint. Athletically, he’s crazy. Got a few internal issues I’m sure he will iron out as he develops and matures. It’d be impossible not to, alongside KD…

Oklahoma fans > Texas fans. Not only do these great, great people live and die with the Thunder, they understand the concept of “white-out” in the home arena. Everyone in OKC grabs that t-shirt like it’s gold and throws that sucker on with no regrets. Hey, Dallas women (and businessmen). You’re ruining the “sea of blue” with your pastels that looked fitting about five miles northeast of the AAC… Get a clue. (It’s hanging on the back of your chair.)

Kendrick Perkins is the coldest. See you in my nightmares…

Experience over everything. That was the key to this entire series. The Mavs have been in this position before. (See 2006.) As much as the Thunder ‘thought it was their time’ to win by talent alone, they didn’t have the experience, poise and concentration at the end of every single game. That will come with time. It surely, surely will.

The best like it better under pressure. DIRRRRKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. Is unbelievable. I don’t care if you hate the guys guts… His performance this series defined leadership. And he is this way because of his experience, he’s paid his dues as a learner. But – in every single game – if all hope for Dallas seemed lost, Dirk took control of the entire game and calmly asserted, “I’ve gawt thess.” A minute and 16 seconds left, he pulls up at the top of the arc and misses a three. Offensive board kicked backed out to Jet… Dirk calls for the ball again. Dagger. Drains it. I got chills when OKC called timeout and Dirk calmly walked to the bench. He wanted the rock under pressure. He never let the moment get bigger than him. Leadership.

KD proves he’s got class under control. In the presser after a loss in OKC, Durant was as defeated as anyone had seen. I’ll never forget how he mumbled, “We lost.” But for someone being young enough to sit next to me in class, wearing his heart on his sleeve is something he’ll get control of as he morphs into their leader. But after the Mavs won the series, he pushed the stinging pain of losing aside, and showed respect with so much class. Seeing him hug Jason Kidd and Dirk (and others) after the biggest loss of his career thus far – he paid respect. And that class will credit him for the remainder of his career, and of his life.

JJ is dating Miss Universe. Behind every man, there’s a better woman… Somethin’ like that…

This ain’t their first rodeo. ESPN’s Doris Burke was still mic’d up calling out for the Mavs after Mark Cuban claimed the trophy. All that was heard on TV was Doris’ voice trailing off, “Dirk?… Dirk? Jason?? I think they’re gone, I think they’ve all abandoned me…” Followed by a tunnel shot of Dirk heading into the locker room. No time for celebration. Again, I got chills. Staying humble and hungry, they are motivated to prevent a 2006 repeat (blowing a 2-0 lead, I know you didn’t need the reminder).

The Thunder have are missing one bolt. NO DOUBT they have an incredible story waiting to be written. I just think they need to draft/acquire one huge guy to center the offense around. At times, you’ve got Harden, Maynor, Westbrook and KD all acting as guards on the floor. Perk and Ibaka face foul trouble and you’ve got a wiry, handle-heavy offense.

What’s in KD’s backpack? Straight from the man himself on Twitter.

Dirk is a gamechanger. Game. Changer.

The excitement and sweetness of this series will be remembered by Western Conference basketball fans down around the Red River for years. The talent level and performance peaks from young and old were incredible – but consider the intangibles when weighing the most impressive part of this series. And be ready to see – hear? – more Thunder in the future.

So what’s next: Beatin’ the heat, or grabbin’ the bull by it’s horns? Neither sound too tough for a Texan to handle…


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