Noted baseball manager Leo Durocher came up with the famous quote “nice guys finish last” and being that he won only one World Series title as a manager with the New York Giants in 1954, he must’ve been a pretty nice fella (although umpires might argue with me on that). Leo “The Lip”, who passed away in 1991, never got to see or appreciate the 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks, who proved without a doubt that nice guys don’t finish last, they can actually finish first.
The so-called one and done boys are number one and the Heat are done after Dallas disposed of LeBrick James and Miami in 6 games to win the NBA title. The ghosts of their collapse against the Heat in 2006 are now just a distant memory, and it’ll be the Heat having nightmares about NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and a Mavericks team that won three straight games to close them out 4-2. By the way, just saw one of those missing persons signs on the highway, and they’re still looking for LeBron James. Hasn’t been seen since the 4th quarter of game 2 on June 2nd.
What makes Dallas such a special team is while they rely on one of the greatest players to ever play the game in Dirk Nowitzki, they truly are a team, playing with an unselfishness and special bond that made it tough to root against them and very easy to root against LeFraud James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who now realize you put on a big extravaganza after the season if you win it all, not before the season when you haven’t even played one game.
The Mavs have a great group of guys who love the game and enjoy being around each other and appreciate the fans who support them. Mavs players always touch hands with the fans and toss sweatbands and headbands to the crowd coming off the court and that’s both home and away. I have seen Mavs players do that on the road after a tough loss when the home team players don’t even do it. They get it. They care. During the NBA Finals, guard J.J. Barea would come out to the stands before the game to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans. Of course, a lot of the fans were taller than the 5’10” Barea, but a guy his size who excels at this level and takes it at the big guys is just another reason to admire this team. You also gotta love that J.J. dates a former Miss Universe from Puerto Rico, and no offense, J.J. is never going to be confused with Antonio Sabato Jr.
Still, you can’t help but feel good for a guy who has always been told he’s too small or not good enough to play the game. I guess he’s got the last laugh.
Speaking of laughs, Mavs players aren’t afraid to act silly or do goofy bits which is evident in all the corny and cheesy canned spoofs the team shows on the video board to entertain the crowd during time outs. Dirk’s singing makes William Hung sound like Andrea Bocelli. Can you imagine the Bulls asking Michael Jordan back in the day to do some of the silly stuff the Mavs players do? Again, they get it. They have fun. They connect with the fans on all levels. Jason Terry is one of the nicest guys you’ll meet and the sky is the limit if the ever-personable and sometimes outspoken Jet wants to get into TV after his playing career is over. Again, nice guys don’t finish last.
Dirk is the most unassuming and humble superstar in any sport, and is just a big dork who absolutely loves what he does and really appreciates and praises the Mavericks fans for their support. Even Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who was the main reason a lot of people pulled against the Mavs in the past, scored a lot of points by putting a self-imposed gag order on himself during the playoffs as not to be a distraction. Cuban then showed the ultimate act of class by allowing Mavs founder Donald Carter to accept the Larry O’Brien Trophy from NBA Commissioner David Stern. Mark is now a MCFL (Mavs Champion For Life).
Further proof that nice guys don’t always finish last comes from golfer Rory McIlroy. Rory had the lead heading into the final round of the Masters before shooting an 80 to finish 15th. The 22-year-old Irishman answered every question cordially and handled his epic collapse with style and grace. Rory said he would learn from the experience and be better the next time he was in a similar situation in a major. That situation came sooner than later. Rory had to answer the same questions about the Masters meltdown after taking the 18, 36, and 54 hole leads at the U.S. Open at Congressional and never got agitated or short with a reporter. All McIlroy did was go on to smash Tiger Woods U.S. Open scoring record by shooting 16-under and winning by eight shots. The crowd pulled for him because of the classy way he handled defeat at Augusta and his nice guy demeanor. Again, nice guys don’t finish last.
Lil Wayne has a reputation as a bad guy, went to jail, etc., but he couldn’t have been nicer at the NBA Finals. I witnessed how when a fan came up to his Lil Wayne’s courtside seats in Dallas to take a picture of him, security tried to step in and stop the dude but one of Weezy’s guys intervened and told the security guard it was cool. Again, nice guys don’t always finish last. He was also happy to take a young singer’s CD to listen to later.
Can’t say the same for Justin Bieber. Justin, who looks about 12 and is a tiny little fella, wasn’t as accommodating as Lil Wayne. The prince of bubble gum pop was near the Mavs locker room and had to wait as it was roped off to let the Dallas players head back to the court at the end of halftime. So Justin is stuck there just like every one else. People realize who he is and start taking pictures with their phones. After he reluctantly takes a couple pics, he just turns around the other way looking very uncomfortable and some dude with him starts saying this “ain’t no meet and greet” and how would you like it if people were always taking your picture? Then he told people to stop taking pictures. Say what? He’s standing there. He can’t go anywhere until the Mavs walk thru and the ropes are brought down. Simply turn around and smile and let the people who have made you freakin rich and famous get a picture. Not like they were stopping him from going anywhere, he was stuck there. Don’t want your picture taken, really Justin? Uh, didn’t you get discovered and famous from youtube? Didn’t you have a documentary film called NEVER SAY NEVER in theaters and now in video stores where cameras followed you around all the time? And now you don’t want some excited fans of yours to take a few pics with their phones. What a hypocrite. Don’t worry; they won’t want your picture when your 15 minutes of fame is up. So much for his image as a sweet guy who loves and appreciates his fans. This so-called nice guy does finish last in my book. Hey Justin, Donny Osmond called and he wants his hairstyle back.