Many things were different in 2006. Our president was still white, Osama still roamed the deserts and no one had even heard of Soulja Boy. Yet, the NBA was still as competitive as ever as the upstart Miami Heat took on the Dallas Mavericks in a wild six-game series. Five years later, as the two teams hook up again in the Finals, we take a look at the top 5 reasons why the 2011 Finals is not the 2006 Finals.
1. “The Decision” hadn’t happened yet.
Prior to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh supposedly made a pact to play on the same team in the future, Wade and James were still rivals, each doing their best to be the undisputed champ of the league. LeBron was looking for better players in Cleveland, while Bosh was still stuck in Canada. In Game 1 last night, Bosh, James and Wade scored 19, 24 and 22, respectively. Back in ’06, it was essentially the D-Wade Show, as he led the team in scoring each of the six games.
2. The cast of aging veterans was different.
The Heat surrounded Wade with Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, Jason Williams and Antoine Walker – journeymen who were desperate for a ring. Shaquille O’Neal was still able to get up and down the court and became an instrumental piece in the Heat’s championship. This series, Miami’s Big Three stay on the court virtually the entire game, which means veterans Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eddie House and Juwan Howard will be doing a lot of towel waving and fist-bumping. The Mavericks as a team are becoming their own cast of aging veterans and this might be their last shot at a title. Dallas will need more of a contribution from sharp-shooter Peja Stojakovic, who went 0-for-3 from downtown last night.
3. The point guards are different.
Ironically, the Mavs’ 2006 point guard, Devin Harris, would become their current floor general, Jason Kidd, in a 2008 trade with the New Jersey Nets. Though Kidd brings less scoring to the table than Harris, we’ve all seen how important his three-ball will be for the Mavs. In 2006, the Heat trotted out White Chocolate and The Glove at point guard, who each made plays late in games. Last night, the Miami’s Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers each played big minutes, but it was Chalmers who made the most of it, converting 3-of-8 field goal attempts for 12 points.
4. The Tim Donaghy refereeing scandal had not occurred yet.
Many would blame bad officiating for Dallas’ demise up 2-0 in the series. Only one season before the Donaghy fiasco, Mark Cuban went on record accusing the officials of making “phantom” calls on the Mavericks, particularly on Wade’s drives to the basket. Will the officiating be better this time around? Tough to tell. America has expressed their love for the “good guy” Mavericks, which means some calls might just end up in their favor.
5. The broadcasting crew.
We get to listen to Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson chatter on ABC, rather than plain old Hubie Brown, who called the ’06 Finals. While Van Gundy and Jackson can sometimes be entertaining, I have trouble listening to them blabber on for extended periods of time for fear that my head might explode. Keeping the game on mute or watching it at a crowded bar might be the way to go.
What do you think? What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed?
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