Sunday, December 08, 2002

OH GOD IT WAS HORRIBLE: The way the Mavs lost to the Lakers last night, after being up by thirty at one point, getting out of their game and getting completely smoked in the fourth quarter and losing by two points. It was stomach-churning, a horror movie of a basketball game, with the Lakers as the horrible chainsaw-wielding madmen that could not be killed, no matter how many times you poured gasoline on them and ran them over. I saw Michael Finley on the sideline, talking to one of the coaches, saying something like, "This isn't happening. This isn't right, not right at all." He looked scared, the way Nick Van Exel said the Mavericks played. And Nick Van Exel was right. What a psychological blow. They're getting a sense right now of just how hard it is to win a NBA championship.

Derek Harper, on the Dallas site, offered these words:

The one thing the Dallas Mavericks need most on their eventual climb to an NBA title?
They need to get their noses bloodied.
That won’t be enjoyable. That won’t be fun. And it’s difficult work to volunteer for. I mean, who wants to stick his nose into a pile knowing he’s going to come away wounded?
Maybe it happened Friday night in LA. – and boy, that sure wasn’t enjoyable or fun, was it?
Said coach Nelson after that shocking 105-103 loss to the Lakers, "We probably need to go through this experience. It hurts like hell right now. But it's probably good for us. You grow from things like this."
Yes, you do. You grow from having your nose bloodied.
Unfortunately, history tells us that the only way to get to a championship is to suffer that bloodied nose along the way. This is not to say that the regular season is unimportant; it’s all about jockeying for position, jockeying for seeding. There is an obviously huge edge to being in the top four, and this year, in the West, their might be a decided edge in being in the top one, knowing how deep the Western Conference field could be with the Portlands and Seattles and Houstons and Minnesotas all capable of bing a 5 or a 6 with the ability to beat a 4 or a 6.
So by all means, keep the pedal to the metal in the regular season. But know that at some point in the maturation of the franchise, some tough times, some heartache, will have to be endured.
This Mavericks team can play with anybody, and can beat anybody. It’s conceivable that they will keep beating most everybody in the regular season, and lose just enough to take their educational lumps that way.
But keep this in mind: Chances are, a team doesn’t win a title in one season until after it has been through a bloodied nose in the previous season.
It’s going to be painful. It’s going to be bloody, like it was Friday.
It’s going to happen – and that will eventually be a good thing. Though it doesn’t feel very good right now.

Have faith, oh you Mavericks. No one wants to see the Lakers win again. We're all with you, on this here Internet.

And they beat the Warriors tonight, just one night after that soul-threatening loss, and as they walked off the court, in victory of a close game, their heads were low and they still seemed in a daze. They know what's ahead of them, now. What will be required.

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