Thursday, January 18, 2007

Was I right or was I right?

I'm fairly certain the Dallas Morning News' David Moore has been reading this blog. Proof? Here's proof:

Johnson was loathe to shower individual praise on players last season because he was busy building a team. It conflicted with his message.

Now that this concept is ingrained, Johnson is willing to reward the players for buying into his system. He has said he wouldn't take anyone over Dirk Nowitzki for MVP and admitted he didn't tout the forward's performance enough last season. Johnson has endorsed Josh Howard's All-Star candidacy and wondered aloud if there's a better defensive point guard in the Western Conference right now than Devin Harris.

"I don't like to false-promote guys," Johnson said. "If a guy is worthy of something individually, I'll say it."


Uh, remember when I said that last week:

One thing about Johnson though is that when he was a freshman coach of the Dallas Mavericks (a freshman coach who inevitably took his team to the Finals for the first time -- yeah, he was a really good freshman coach), he tended to focus on what went wrong during a game's course, rather than issuing any praise for his player's efforts. Even after wins, he'd talk about botched defensive sets during the post-game interview. This is probably due to the same reasoning I have: There's always room for improvement. However, as an avid Mavericks fan and sports reader (though I don't like pretty much everything else), I've noticed that in his second season, after the humbling loss of four straight games in the Finals after holding a 2-0 lead, Johnson has loosened up in his quotes. Suddenly, he has praise where praise previously wasn't found. And his team is playing well -- really well. Best record in the NBA. So, here's my theory (and follow me here, because this relates to music eventually): In his first season, Johnson had to establish his place with the team and make a statement that he expects the very best out of them. In order to do so, he was a little harsh sometimes -- ignoring the positive and focusing solely on what could be better. A lapse in defense. A moment when the player's focus drifted from the game. In order to win a championship, he drilled it into his team that they needed to all be on the same page, and he did so with brute force. But now, his team knows. They're playing with a chip on their shoulder after losing their grip on the Finals last year, so he hardly needs to motivate them anymore. And now he can now give them hell occasionally, but also reinforce the positive. See what I mean?


OK, so I'm more long-winded, but know this: David Moore, I've got my eye on you. Or maybe we just think alike -- great minds, etc. Either way, good column today!

Side note: Perhaps I've been writing about the Mavericks too much lately. I'm starting to feel like Bill Simmons, when all he does is write about the Celtics. OK, I'll keep it in check.

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