A King was overthrown on Sunday night. A usurper, he was shown to be a tyrant who had laid claim to the throne illegitimately. On Sunday LeBron James, “King James” to his round the clock team of advertising execs and marketing gurus, and his bourgeois posse were defeated at the hands of a tight-knit group of underdogs.
My disdain for the Miami Heat, and in particular their “King” James, is well documented. I vehemently opposed the rampant douchery that was “The Decision” and I promptly launched myself into the bandwagon of any team playing the Heat this season.
That’s why, on Sunday night, I found myself cheering wildly for a team that I normally would only have a grudging respect for; found myself strongly considering Googling “How to say ‘Suck it LeBron’ in German.”
And make no mistake about it: the Dallas Mavericks earned this title. They earned it with steely nerves, forging comeback after comeback in the magma-hot furnace of unflappable drive.
They earned it with a dizzying array of role players, all stepping up to fill in points and assists like a basketball version of Mad-Libs.
“Just when the Miami Heat appeared ready to pull away ______ (Insert foreign player) hit two threes and then ________ (insert old, unathletic guy with receding hairline) takes a charge and the Mavericks were right back in it.”
They earned it by having a seven-foot tall Nordic beastman who would’ve made the Germanic hordes that plunged the civilized world into the Dark Ages proud with his ferocity. Of course, with Dirk Nowitzki, his ferocity was buried somewhere deep down inside. Far below his wolfman-like beard, his gangly arms and his coif of blonde hair was a tenacity that blows up the myth that foreign players are soft.
While King James’ throne crumbled before our eyes in 1080p, collapsing into a rubble-like pile of Sprite commercials and poorly written State Farm ads, it became clear that his crown was more Burger King than Crown Jewels. He looked disinterested, uninspired, and with the warm Atlantic waters rising to “sink or swim time” James thrashed around like a shark attack victim in “Jaws 3.”
James found himself in a familiar predicament. The spotlights were blazing, the pressure was so immense that James’ number six jersey had turned entirely to lead, and when he reached for the human flotation device known as Dwyane Wade James suddenly found himself floundering yet again.
His game stuttering like Colin Firth, “The King’s” speech was clear in his body language. James was sinking.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas’ biggest star, spent much of the first 3 quarters struggling mightily as well. Dirk, who had made a habit in this series of turning into a one-man blitzkrieg when the fourth quarter rolled around, was shooting worse than Hans Gruber’s henchman but got a huge boost from Jason Terry, an older-than-dirt Jason Kidd, and J.J. Barea.
Barea, who stepped up immensely in the last few games of the finals, gave hope to all of us below-5’8″ers that once fancied ourselves to be basketball players. Kidd and Terry were the consummate role-players and kept the Mavs in the game until Dirk came around and began his late game surge.
The pieces fell into place for the Mavericks. Marc Cuban, the Mavericks’ owner, even shut his billion-dollar trap for just long enough to let his squad’s team-first attitude do all the talking. Cuban, who constantly looks like he’s either going to – or just got done doing multiple keg stands at – a frat party, decided that he’d let his team play for once and it paid off.
He hasn’t shut up since. He shot off more tweets and shot down more shots of Patron than any owner in league history last night, running up an alleged bar tab of $200,000 taking his team out after the game to party.
James, for his part had a royal execution befitting a king. He was guillotined by the media; marched out in front a verbal firing squad where the questions were loaded and fired off after a drumroll of building tension. He did what he’s done all season: pretended not to care what people thought.
Sounding more like a petulant child pulling a patented, “Nu-unnnhhh!” He deflected questions about his choices, his late game demise, and attempted nonchalance.
As for his legacy? Far too early to tell. The Heat are still really good. Freakishly good. So good, in fact that I don’t see why they won’t be one of the favorites again next year to make it all the way back. I never felt safe while watching the Mavericks play against such a bevy of talent. I’m fairly certain that I held my breath during the entire 6th game in a feat that would’ve made Houdini’s efforts look mundane.
I was so shaken that during the series I uttered more swear words per quarter than Dirk averaged points per game. I was worried that, somehow, this NBA Finals would be like a Scorsese movie: really, really good, but with an ending that would leave me screaming, “why can’t the good guys just win?!?!”
I still have some weird sensation that the Mavs will be in the middle of their victory parade and LeBron, Wade, and Bosh’s alien-looking neck will pop out of a float, and reveal that somehow they had won the series. But after watching Bron-Bron choke choke on the game like George W. on a Rolds Gold, I have found some measure of peace with the way things ended up.
James was overthrown; proven to be no more a king than any pauper off the street who could afford a knock-off crown. His former legions of serfs, popularly known as the city of Cleveland, Ohio have begun to rejoice at the fall of a false king.
Let the party continue.
James will be back, of that I have no doubt. But for now? Sic semper tyrannis.