Here's an odd fact to mull going into the good-looking NBA Finals war between Dallas and Miami: Not one NBA statistician polled by ESPN picked Dallas to win this bout.
Henry Abbott explains:
The TrueHoop Stat Geek Smackdown features eight participants.
Two pick the Mavericks to win the 2011 NBA Finals — the other six pick the Heat.
But know how many of those quant analysts expect the Mavericks to win?
Zero. Nada. Nilch. Not even one.
(A couple of the analysts choose against Miami to be contrary, despite their statistical analysis.)
But! Dig a little deeper, and you discover that again, not one of these same wizards picked Dallas to beat the Lakers. And Dallas swept the Lakers!
So what do these alleged geniuses know?
Another NBA analyst, Dave Zirin, looks into the future for The New Yorker, and predicts that if Dallas can't stop Miami, the Heat will dominate the league for years to come, and change everything:
Now the Mavs are the last line of defense against the Heat taking a beautiful team game and possibly owning it for years to come. If the Mavs can’t do it, and if Dirk and Jason Kidd lose what might be their last great chance to win a title, then other teams will mimic the Heat: mortgaging complete teams to stockpile stars. We will have a league where a handful of Ayn Rand super-squads will consume all the oxygen, a dispiriting sporting version of the Talented Tenth model of uplift. Teams that are greater than the sum of their parts will be as quaint as shooting toward a peach basket or pro hoops in Seattle.
I picked the Mavs to win it all before the N.B.A. season began. My rooting interests are with their team. But ball don’t lie. The wing is king. The Heat in six.
I'm unconvinced. I've heard those dynasty predictions before. Which is maybe why I seem to be the one American outside of Florida rooting for Miami.
Even superstars can play the team game. That's Miami's message, I think.