I’ve seen Monkey Magic. I know how this works. I just blow my fingers like this, and the magic pink cloud comes and then I float away.
Speaking of floating away, not many NBA players get to leave on their own terms. Most just have their careers end when they can’t sign another contract. This year we saw the last of Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Channing Frye. Seeing everyone will be talking about Channing Frye for decades to come as one of the all time greats who left at the peak of his powers, let’s talk a little about Wade, Nowitzki and others who might be saying goodbye.
How this works is I pose a number of questions, and collate everyone’s answers together here. Sounds easy, right?
At the round table today we have Jarrod Cotton (BOS), David Ashman (DEN), Troy Goostrey (IND) and Jesse Cotton (ATL).
How Will We Look Back On Dwyane Wade’s Career?
I think very positively. At just 24, he averaged 35/8/4 and nearly 3 steals in earning Final MVP and his first title (put that in your pipe and smoke it P.Pierce!) Yes he had Shaq, but Diesel only went for 14 & 10 across that series so a great effort really. Then forming part of the original Big 3 in Miami and winning more titles, there’s no doubting he will be a first ballot hall of famer. Did so much for Miami. A couple of moves late in the career won’t detract from his effort making the Heat a great franchise to watch and support from the mid 2000’s to today
We will look back on it as a overall success.
2006 champion with finals MVP in his third ? year established how great he was going to be. A smooth scorer and probably the best defensive off guard of the naughties. 2011 hurt his legacy but one of the most complete / intelligent players I’ve seen.
Also non related basketball legacy: legitimising parents to misspell baby names (Dwyane indeed!)
I believe Dwayne Wade has been a great player (for his size) at the 2 guard position. I think he had a great supporting cast when winning his championships. 1 with Shaq as his centre, 2 more with Lebron and Chris Splosh. Could he have won any championships with a lesser cast? Probably not but we’ll never know anyway. But overall a great, tuff player who certainly held his own. No MJ but at least he had an all round game, unlike Kobe who was just a scorer.
What we won’t look back on is his time with Chicago and Cleveland.
You can make a case for Wade being the 3rd best SG of all time, behind Jordan and Byron Scott. You can also make a case that he was only successful when he had another all-time great close to their prime in LeBron or Shaq.
I think it’s more the former, with him clearly being the man when winning the title in ’06. The year before LeBron and Bosh joined, Wade was 3rd in MVP voting, and had led the league in scoring the year before that. He only took more of a back seat after LeBron arrived for the greater good of the team, which is something not every player would be willing to do in their prime. What he doesn’t get enough credit for is his defense, where he consistently led all guards in blocked shots. he was closer to a poor man’s Jordan than what most people realise.
How Will We Look Back on Dirk Nowitzki’s Career?
Also very positively. Further advanced the game internationally with his longevity and that step back, one-leg fadeaway!! Tim Duncan probably earned the title of best-PF ever just a few years ago and Dirk doesn’t quite surpass him. But he will leave the game in the top 3 foreign born players to play NBA in my opinion – along with Olajuwon and Nash. All 3 play different spots so hard to pick a #1, although in my personal opinion Nash is a clear 3rd of the 3, with Olajuwon still just edging the big German as #1.
We will look back on it as a player who defined the modern big man.
Made Dallas a contender throughout the naughties. His team also had their stumbles (we believe Warriors) but 2011 cemented his legacy as one of the greats. He was absolutely “unguardable” in those playoffs. I remember the social basketball conversations revolved around underdog Mavericks spanking the overwhelming favourites Heat for the title, to the joy of most.
Loyalty and forever changing the perception of overseas basketball talent will be his legacy.
Dirk Nowitzki’s career will be known for his patent move, the off balance, fading off of one foot shot that is unblockable. And being 7 feet, he could shoot the three and be a mismatch for any team. So from a personal playing standpoint, he was one of the first players his size to be unguardable and cause nightmares with his mismatches for bigs trying to guard him on the perimeter and posting up smaller players. He just changed the game I think for what he did for his size. Now it is the norm in the NBA to have this type of player so he was a “first of his kind”. Good on ya Dirk, auf wiedersehen.
Dirk will be known for really being the first 7 footer who was predominantly a 3-point shooter with a finesse game. Had he played for the 36ers, Ash would be yelling out “You’ve got height, use it!” and Scott would be yelling at Phil to make him play inside and get rebounds, a la Big O. But I guess Dirk knew what he was doing.
Also by playing for the one team his entire career, I think he’ll be the main guy associated with the Dallas Mavericks franchise for years to come (or until Doncic becomes that guy next year). When you think “Dallas”, you’ll think “Dirk-one-foot-fall-away”
However, had he not won the title in 2011 in the fashion he did by taking over the series after being down one-and-a-half games to none, I think he would also carry around the labels of being soft and being a choker. Granted he came up against some good West teams in the 00s in the Lakers, Spurs and to a lesser degree Kings, but getting bounced by Golden State and losing the Finals to Miami after being in the box seat, along with the pre-existing stereotype of the “soft Euro” gave him this reputation. Lucky for him he won, against a super team no less, and since then those labels disappeared. And really, so has the “soft Euro” tag in general.
who is the best player, besides Dirk and Wade, who you think is playing / has played his last season?
Carmelo Anthony is likely to retire, but hasn’t officially pulled the pin yet. As much as I’ve ridden his game in later years, if he does call a close to the career, he would be the next best behind Dirk and Wade. Otherwise, Raymond Felton. He looks about 20kgs overweight already so maybe he’s already retired but to help OKC field a team after paying Westbrook and PG in a small market, they just have to play him!!
Carmelo was the highest profile player this year who will never be back in the NBA.
Some players adjust their game as they get older eg…J.Kidd but, unfortunately Carmelo Anthony ego got in the way of this.
MMMM who is playing or has played his last season? Maybe Melo as I think his days are done but then again, some team may require his defensive prowess to win a championship ala the Rockets. I might go out on a limb here and maybe say Andre Iguodala after the Warriors win the championship this year. He’s 35 years old and has won three rings with maybe a fourth on the way. If KD leaves the Warriors at the end of the season, he may decide to hang up the shoes and chill out playing video games. AGAIN……
I think we’ve seen the last of Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker. To a lesser degree, Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler, Nene and Luol Deng.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Marc Gasol and Iguodala hang them up either, but I think being on successful teams might mean they play on in a lesser role. Joakim Noah and Kyle Korver I think still have a place in the league for another year, along with Vince Carter, surprisingly. Udonis Haslem stopped playing 6 years ago, but for some reason is still on the roster.
But my pick is Pau Gasol. He looked like he was done when he was in his last year with the Bulls (even though he was an All Star both Bulls seasons), and now after a stint in the Spurs’ retirement village it’s a last gasp for another title with the Bucks, where he’s either on the bench or injured. Or on the bench injured. Pau started as the man in Memphis and had some success there, taking a 23 win team in his rookie season to a 50 win tam 2 years later with James Posey as the second leading scorer. He was later traded to the Lakers where he won titles as the Robin to Kobe’s Batman. Carmelo is really the only other guy I considered, but there’s no way he helped his team win consistently as much as Gasol did.