I’m a big proponent of a player needing to win a championship to be considered an “all-time great” (except for a few exceptions). In the game of basketball, more than in any other team sport, one player can have a dramatic effect on all aspects of the game, and subsequently on whether his team wins or loses. With that being said, even superstars need at least one reliable sidekick to get the job done. In fact, a team without at least two stars just don’t win the NBA Championship. The Detroit Pistons in 2004 technically only had one star in Ben Wallace, but Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace all made All-Star appearances after 2004. Say what you will about the Pistons being a true “team”, but they also really had four stars on their roster. Other than the 2004 Bad Boys, you have to go all the way back to the 1994 Houston Rockets to find another championship team with only one star player.
Which brings us to this year’s Dallas Mavericks. As the NBA Finals have shown once again, the Mavs are a one man gang. Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t have anyone riding shotgun with him, and that really shouldn’t come as a surprise looking at this roster. There is no other player wearing a Mavs’ uniform this year that you can consider a star. Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic are all past their days of stardom. Tyson Chandler is a star on the defensive end, but it ends there. When you are counting on a 33-year-old Jason Terry to be your secondary star on offense, while guarded by LeBron James, you are flirting with disaster. And while Dirk was trying to be a leader and a champion by calling out Terry for not being “clutch” and urging for more out of him, Terry really isn’t the problem here. Sure, he is shooting poorly in the Finals, but it’s only been three games (a very small sample size) and James is guarding him. For the regular season Terry averaged 15.8 ppg on 45% shooting; for the playoffs he’s at 16.8 ppg and 46%. So Terry has actually been slightly exceeding his normal performance in these playoffs. In fact, the only time he’s shot better in the playoffs was in 2005. If Terry was shooting at his normal 45% clip in the Finals, he would have only put up another five-seven points on the board for Dallas.
No Terry isn’t the person to point the finger at here, although it is true he hasn’t played as well as Dallas would have hoped. No, this team and roster was flawed from the get-go. Dallas is a very good team with a superstar player, but they just don’t have the depth of talent to top Miami. If the Mavericks do somehow pull out a victory in this series, the words “Dirk Nowitzki: All-Time Great” should be bolded, highlighted and adorned with a gold star sticker.