NBA Flashback: The One-Superstar Champions

While NBA fans are still relishing the recent Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, we were actually surprised by the statement of LeBron James that he couldn’t remember a team that made it to an NBA Finals without their 2 All-Stars..

And he’s not only a student but a historian of the game, at that. Or did we just get him wrong?

Then again, can’t a team make it with just One star? Guess James was just emotional with their loss and it’s understandable.. But it just sounds indifferent, like 4, 5 years ago when he said ‘…not just one, two, three, four, five championships and so on’, remember?

This then gives us a clue to the most recent One-star team that made it to and through the PlayOffs, and even became Champions..

Remember a guy named Dirk Nowitzki and the 2011 NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks? Their Finals opponent was even against a 3 superstar-led team in the Miami Heat. Guess who was one of those superstars?

LeBron James.

2011 NBA Finals: Mavs vs Heat
2011 NBA Finals: Mavs vs Heat

Nowitzki only had Chandler, Marion, Stevenson, 38-year-old Jason Kidd, and himself as starters for the Mavs; with Terry, Cardinal, Mahinmi, Barea, et cetera coming off the bench.

Now, what can you say? The Mavs basically had only One star in Dirk Nowitzki, not to mention, they’re even an old team.

So no excuses, please. The Cavs’ loss was not with a “last second” shot that they could say the Warriors were just lucky; besides, injuries are just part of the game that with a good system, they could have adjusted and really used their bench. Unless if it were James himself who got injured and couldn’t play like Varejao and the others – only then could the Cavs say the Warriors were lucky. Same goes if it were Curry himself who got injured. Got the point? Not the main men. So see, Varejao is irrelevant. They wouldn’t have gotten a better center in Mozgov if Varejao didn’t get injured. Kevin Love is also irrelevant. They wouldn’t have gotten to the Finals if they really needed Love. Come to think of it, the acquisition of Mozgov, Smith and Shumpert was more of luck, and clearly, more than makes up for any need in talent.

However, Kyrie Irving was crucial. The Cavs made it to the Finals with him. Then again, they wouldn’t have discovered Dely if Kyrie were playing. Still, game dynamics would change if Irving were around. Kyrie is an offensive guy, this means Curry’s struggles against Dely would not really happen. Result? Curry would have erupted the whole series. Warriors still wins. See?

The fate, good and not so good, of the Cavs this 2015 season was really due to:

First. They’re playing in the “weak” East, so even with just One-star, they could make the Finals – No Big Deal. Good for them. What’s admirable is the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, they got 4 All-Stars but their selection was just a result of a good system. Meaning, they topped the East not because these 4 were really All-Stars per se (as in like regulars) but because of their coaching system. Got the point?

Hey! With healthy lineups from both sides, Hawks and Cavs, we don’t think the Hawks could beat the Cavs in a series. A good system still needs at least One star to win (until Coach Budenholzer could prove us wrong) which brings us to the..

Second point. Good system.

Mavs and Coach Rick Carlisle in a huddle
Mavs and Coach Rick Carlisle in a huddle

See the difference between the 2011 Mavericks and the 2015 Cavaliers? System. The Mavs simply trusts their players while the Cavs just looks for James to feed them when they actually got a good team even without their 2 other All-Stars.. But then blames being “tired and undermanned” for losing when it’s the coach’s decision not to use other players and just let James do as he pleases. Yet many are even amazed by LeBron’s numbers? Isn’t that expected with Coach Blatt’s system? That’s why in 2011, even DeShawn Stevenson of the champion Mavericks said LeBron is just overrated..

But of course James is good, he’s like a Charles Barkley in fact. And we’re not trying to be hard on James here or what. We’re just talking of facts. Setting things straight. And the 2011 Mavs are just the most recent One-star champions.. That the Cavs actually had a chance for a sort of similar “eliteness” if not for their system and, well, whining?

Lone Star Dirk Nowitzki hoisting the Championship trophy with the Mavs
Lone Star Dirk Nowitzki hoisting the Championship trophy with the Mavs

How about another One-star championship team? The 1994 Houston Rockets. See?

Now you remember.


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