Last night, the soon-to-be named MVP Dirk Nowitzki and his 67-win Dallas Mavericks choked up a 3-1 first round series lead to the not-even-supposed-to-be-here-today Golden State Warriors. This was quite a contrast to what had happened just a few hours earlier, when Steve Nash once again proved why he's the reigning MVP.
The Lakers won Game 3 of their series against the Suns for a variety of reasons, the primary one of which was that they used a series of aggressive traps and double-teams to keep the ball out of Nash's hands. But instead of blaming the refs, a lack of effort (by his teammates), a dearth of talent (in his teammates), or his teammates' inability to hit shots, Nash took the onus on himself...promising to keep the ball, split those traps, and make things happen for his team.
What "happened" was 17 points and a career-high 23 assists in a 113-100 smackdown of the Lakers. Those 23 assists, by the way, were one shy of tying the all-time playoff record co-held by Magic Johnson and John Stockton, the two greatest point guards of all time. They also came in a contest in which Nash outdueled the supposed "best player" in the league, Kobe Bryant.
What I love about what Nash is doing is his swagger and killer instinct. While his buddy Dirk was putting on the ten-fingered necklace he loves to wear in big games, Nash continued to attack the opposing team and his critics. And those who like to point at his talented cast of teammates should review Games 3 and 4 and watch what happened when Nash came out of the game. His value to his team, and in the league, should be unquestioned.
Like Bob Cousy and Magic Johnson before him, Nash is proving (or re-proving) that you can dominate the game of basketball without scoring 50 points. It's as beautiful and fun to watch as anything you'll ever see. Kobe fans like to make the claim that Bryant's efforts go unappreciated because of his sketchy past. But Nash's efforts often go unappreciated by the casual fan because he's short, white, unathletic, and probably will never go for 50 (although he'll probably dish for it). The fact is, this guy's the best player in the league
right now five minutes ago (see below).
It's official: Baron Davis is the best player in the NBA. Although I really wish this movement had started after the Warriors completed their upset of the Mavericks, because if Dallas comes back all of this talk will be forgotten in less time than it'll take Baron to get injured next season.