Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rain Man's notes on 1988

In 1988 Pat Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers hurt and pulled my neck. In 1988 Pat Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers hurt and pulled my neck. Hurt and pulled my neck.

I have been thinking a lot about those 87-88 mavericks. The fact that the evil tanned one is standing with his brill creamed head on the Miami Heat’s sideline, cringing as his team turns the ball over or chucks up another miserable shot with one second left on the 24 second shot clock, has probably instigated those thoughts. I don’t remember a lot about that 88 playoff series. I remember seeing the replay of Dereck Harper’s final seconds shot to win one game. I mistakenly remembered Dick Motta as the head coach. I remembered Kareem’s sky hook clanging off the front rim in the closing seconds of Game 6 (I believe). I remember Aguire’s 25 point first quarter.

But I also remember the sense of doom I felt when the Mavs went back to LA for Game 7, where the beautiful people of the Hotel California work their evil mojo. I remember sneaking peaks at televisions at a restaurant while I was out with my friends the night of the game. Home court advantage was a great advantage in that series, with the Forum and Reunion both extremely inhospitable places for visitors. This time we have the advantage.

And I think about Roy Tarpley. I felt he was the key. The Lakers had no answer for a 7 foot power forward that controlled the glass. With Roy we were a threat to beat one of the all time great teams, Magic’s Showtime Lakers. When we lost him, we became another western conference trying to make the playoffs.

Now we have another 7 foot power forward who creates matchup nightmares, usually with his shooting touch, as opposed to Roy’s ability to terrorise opponents in the post and on the offensive boards. Yet as the years have gone by Nowitzki has added some strength and rebounding prowess to his game, and we can all appreciate how that dimension has made the Mavs better. This time, I say the key will be a player named Josh Howard. Terry may end up being the scoring threat that Jason Williams and Gary Payton can’t stop at the point position, but throughout the playoffs its Howard’s rebounding and defense that have been rock solid for 30-40 minutes per game. I label him the keystone to the bridge the Mavs have made.

And as childish and ridiculous as this is, I want some payback for 1988. Wade isn’t like Magic. Shaq isn’t like Kareem. But Brill cream head is back. And putting one over on him in 2006 would make up for a lot in my own private mythology of the Dallas Mavericks sports franchise.

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