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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Danger Of Firing Up An Opponent (Dwayne Wade, Dirk Nowtitzki and the NBA Championship)

When I played high school football, at one of our away games we arrived early, and the opposing coach put us in a closet. That's right. A closet. It was a very long closet, probably used for storing athletic gear and (just) large enough to hold 40 players, but it was a closet nonetheless. I'm not sure what the coach's strategy was or if he even had one, but if he did, it backfired. To say that our team became a bit upset would be an understatement. After pounding several holes into the wall with our helmets, we beat the $#%! out of that team, and I'm fairly certain that was the last time that coach put an opposing team in that or any other closet.

I thought of this experience when I heard that prior to the 5th game of the NBA finals, the Miami Heat star, Dwayne Wade, made fun of Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Maverick's star player, for being ill during the 4th game (he had a temperature of 101). Although it was a classless thing for Wade to do (Nowitzki didn't make fun of Wade's injured hip, by the way, although I'm sure he was tempted), Wade broke one of the rules that players should never break: never, ever, give your opponent something to get fired up about.

Former 49er coach Bill Walsh certainly was aware of this rule. Whatever he may have thought about his opponents, he always had complimentary things to say about them. Too bad that Dusty Baker didn't think of this before he gave Russ Ortiz the game ball late in the 6th game of the 2002 World Series with the Giants up 5-0. If he hadn't, the Angels may never have come back, and the Giants would have won their first World Series 8 years sooner.

I'm not sure if it would have made a difference in the end. The Mavericks beat the Heat in 6 games to win the championship. But I can't help but wonder what might have happened if Wade would have kept his mouth shut.

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