“Would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for once chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!’’
That’s the stirring speech Mel Gibson’s William Wallace gives to the troops in “Braveheart.’’ At the end of the movie, Wallace speaks again, screaming at the top of his voice, “FREEEE-DOMMM!’’
And then the enemy racks him, disembowels him and beheads him.
Which brings me to Dirk Nowitzki – racked, disemboweled and beheaded by the Lakers following his public pronouncement. According to the logic of Dirk’s critics, he was REQUIRED to “step up’’ after such a speech. Using the same logic, William Wallace was REQUIRED to do the same, right?
But hey. … rackings, disembowelments and beheading happen.
Does that mean Braveheart/UberMan shouldn’t give the speech?
I know I'm going against the newpaper-front-page grain here. (Sidenote to JJT: That’s not writing. … that’s stuttering in print.) And I know I’m going against , too. And I know I’m going against my man Tim MacMahon, whose conviction to the notion (“You see, when a superstar offers a public ripping, he's expected to back it up with an impressive performance on the floor’’) is reflected in the fact that .
In y’all’s Reel-Life Fairy-Land Of Sports, Stirring Inspiration is supposed to automatically lead to Stirring Victory. Ask “Rudy,’’ “The Gipper’’ and “Ricky Bobby.’’
Here’s real life: The Lakers are better than the Mavs, and proved it with a 106-99 win. LA is extremely well-equipped to deal with Nowitzki, who came in averaged 25 ppg career against the Big Bad Lakers but was held to 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting because. … well, because that’s what these Lakers can do. Lamar Odom has always been a challenge for Dirk. And Pau Gasol? Either he’s improved from his Memphis days, when Dirk powned him, or Pau is benefitting from a superior team defense, or hell, maybe Dirk is declining. He sure hit rock-bottom in the fourth quarter, when on defense he avoided real contact with anybody and on offense all his shots avoided real contact with the net.
But either way, Nowitzki’s stinkaroo on Tuesday is, in my mind, a completely separate issue from his public pronouncement on Monday demanding that he and his teammates must improve. As Gerald Green said, “I think everybody responded the same way, everybody was like, ‘You know what, that was a true statement.’’’
JJT’s headline reads, “Mavericks Needed Dirk To Back Up His Words.’’ The insinuation there is that the words are now somehow unjustified or empty because Nowitzki didn’t follow them up by scoring 35 points in a Dallas victory.
Nope. The words still ring true. Losing the game doesn’t make the words, or the speaker, inaccurate or misguided or insignificant. What Dirk said – -- still applies.
It’s just that now – after his racking, disembowelment and beheading – Dirk’s words apply even more now. … to Dirk.