By Matthew Curtis | Enzian Theater June 22, 2006 at 4:59AM
Talk about havin' a bad day! Soon-to-be Gotham Award-winner Mark Cuban started out yesterday getting fined $250,000 by the NBA for "gross misconduct" (he apparently said some very naughty things about the refs and the league in general to Commissioner David Stern at the end of game 5's overtime loss), and finished it watching the Miami Heat celebrate their first championship on the Mavericks' home floor. Ouch.
Dallas was younger, deeper, faster, more talented, and even had the home court advantage, but unfortunately they did not have the one key ingredient that Miami did--Dwayne Wade, an unstoppable superstar who played like the second coming of Jordan and stepped up his game to an amazing level in the NBA Finals. This third-year guard from Marquette was simply sick (even when he was recovering from the flu), averaging about 35 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and too many intangibles that the Mavs never had an answer for. This guy owned every 4th quarter (when the great players really come through), and singlehandedly turned the series around with his heroics late in game 3 when the Heat were down by 13 at home with a little more than 6 minutes left in the game. Dallas repeatedly withered at crunch time and Miami's veterans did what they were supposed to. Hell, they even won 4 in a row without a truly major contribution from Shaq (?!), and became only the third team in something like 28 or 29 tries to come back from an 0-2 deficit and win the Finals.
As far as what a nice story it is that old veterans such as Payton, Mourning, and Walker are finally getting their championship, I don't buy it. Guys like Ewing, Stockton, Malone, and Barkley never won it, so why should I care that these three (who I've loathed over the years as rivals of the Magic and the Knicks) will be getting fitted for a ring?
The night before the NBA Finals came to a close, the NHL also shut the door on its "comeback" season (yeah, that lost season from a strike really helped the sport, as we could all tell from the ratings). Congratulations to the Carolina Hurricanes for their first ever title (their previous incarnation as the Hartford Whalers never produced a ring), and to the Edmonton Oilers for an exciting comeback and ultimately making it a series worth watching . I may be dating myself, but isn't it a bit strange that the Stanley Cup has gone to teams from Tampa, Florida and North Carolina the last two years? So much for the traditional powers...
I think I've just been red-carded by the ref from Uruguay!