The NBA has been doing things right in the promotional area for many, many years at this point, taking professional basketball to higher levels with each decade; giving the fans the matchups they want on strategically high profile days of each season- these days the Kobe/Shaq soap opera tends to be the fare on Christmas day for example- and doing one wonderful promotional video after another, some for during game broadcast, other far more extensive pieces now showing up each year on DVD. While this is certainly a good overall synopsis of the finals for Heat fans to pick up, it would have been nice to see a more extensive set than this, especially considering the larger than life kind of backdrop available to take advantage of, what with an O'Neal coming into the twilight years of his career, Pat Riley finally climbing back to the championship, and the storied histories of both the Mav and Heat franchises. Those will likely come in the future in other sets.
NBA Finals series usually play out in long, dramatic fashion, what with a best of 7 game series under which to paint the portrait, and this season didn't disappoint. Depicted here are the enormous challenges met by each franchise to get to the finals then excel once finally arriving there. The players that stand out here are the same ones that captivated all throughout the 2005-2006 season, stepping up and playing their game, striving to finally give their team a championship trophy.
Shaquille O' Neal played in the fashion that we have known him for throughout the length of his career, if a bit understated as a result of the years and the miles. Diesel can still put the ball in the hole when he sets his mind to doing so, and without him in the middle Miami wouldn't be the reigning champions. Gary Peyton played a role for which he was seemingly born, and certainly one he has spent his entire career as an NBA all star in crafting; when needed, Peyton delivers the goods, a sharp shooter unafraid to make the big shots and clutch plays, teaching leadership to younger Heat players via both his wisdom as well as his on court performance. Alonzo Mourning, long time NBA superstar, veteran and a man who had the will to return to the grueling NBA schedule after enduring a kidney transplant, did what was necessary to see to it his career was finally marked with a championship, playing phenomenal defense and denying the young Mav turks their day in the sun. None stand out more than Dwyane Wade, an incredible young player who can control a game in a manner only the true greats can. After only three years in the league he has his ring, and his career should only continue to soar from here; even if for some reason this isn't the case, he showed a champion's heart in the way he took charge over and over again, making the shots and executing the right plays at the right time, putting his Heat team in the position to win and doing what it takes to bring home a ring.
There are of course the coaches; credit has to be given to young coach Avery Johnson in leading his team to such a great record as well as taking them all the way to the finals- there will likely be other opportunities to do so in the years to come. Pat Riley is as legendary as they come in regards to NBA legends; he being the man at the helm in the Magic/Kareem years, taking his Showtime team up against the tough as nail Bird- era Boston Celtics in the 80's as well as , retiring then coming back to helm an ill-fated New York Knicks squad, leaving and then managing and coaching the fledgling Miami Heat, crafting that team to win in low scoring, tough as nails fashion, for years playing solid winning basketball but coming up short again and again; moving to the front office to make the trades and deals necessary to turn the franchise around, then almost inevitably returning to the coaching ranks in order to guide them the rest of the way. Brow beaten and criticized by the press, Riley showed why he is deserving of the prestige with which his name has long been associated; adding this championship to his legacy has to be sweet indeed.
As a longtime NBA fan from way back, I've never been one for long dynasties; in the 80's we had the great matchups of the Magic, Kareem and the Lakers up against Larry Bird and the Celtics, with teams like the 76'ers and Pistons in the East and the Jazz and the Spurs out West making things especially tough to get to the finals. In the 90's we had Jordan and the Bulls taking home a slew of rings, and post-MJ there seem to have been alot of doubling up champions such as the Lakers, the Spurs and the Pistons. Watching great players strive to get a chance at that ring on their respective teams has always been an allure of the game to me, but when you have the same team taking home the trophy each year, some truly great players get left out in the cold when it comes to getting that championship ring on their finger; some true greats never got to savor that championship, and some current superstars never will. Thus when a team that has been striving to get to the big dance finally does so, the NBA finals become far more interesting to watch. This year we had the pleasure of seeing two such teams on the court- the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks. Some may say that the championship banner is a bit less vibrant this year because the Heat didn't have the San Antonio Spurs looking at the across the court, but they had their chance, and that chance was wrestled from their grasp by a tough, talented Mav team that deserved to be in the big dance at long last.
While most casual fans are accustomed to seeing the bigger names in the sport touted and hailed when they bring home that championship ring, an incredible number of bona fide NBA basketball legends never do so- in fact, many never reach the finals to even have a chance at adding that crowning jewel to their careers. This year NBA fans were treated to seeing two such well deserving players finally do so- Alonzo Mourning and Gary Peyton, two great go-to guys who have had a ring coming for alot of years, and whom would never be seen in quite the same light down the road if not for that championship distinction on their resumes. Younger players such as Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Jason Williams and Dirk Nowitski have and likely will have other championship opportunities come their way, but ask a player like Allen Iverson, Chris Webber, Jason Kidd if they hear the cock ticking- or recently retired all time greats such as Reggie Miller, Karl Malone and John Stockton if they have regrets that won't go away now that their respective careers are over. 'Zo and The Glove are happily stricken from that roster of greats without a title now, and that's a great thing to see happen regardless of their contributions current or in the future.
Aspect ratio here is 1.33:1 fullscreen, preserving the aspect ratio in which it was originally broadcast. Colors are solid and accurate, and sharpness is very good given the material.
Sound track here is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. While nothing groundshaking this is a fine track for its purpose, clear and easy to understand.
These all appear to be short in length promotional spots, and were likely broadcast by the NBA during the Finals games. While entertaining in themselves, don't expect alot of substance.
Dwyane Wade--The Flash- Clocking in at five minutes, some insight on Wade both in interviews and NBA footage.
Gary Payton Career Retrospective- At five minutes, much the same as the Wade piece.
Udonis Haslem--Exceeding Expectations- Haslem has always been overlooked, which has motivated him throughout his career and is talked about here.
Shaq in the 3rd Stage of his Career- Shaq talks about his expectations for the Miami Heat.
Alonzo Mourning--Reflections- Alonzo has had a long career and overcome much adversity to become an NBA Champion.
Jason Williams--Growing as a player- Williams was always known for flash; now his game is about substance
Real Training Camp Preview of the Miami 2006 Season- A preseason look at the Heat's outlook for the season.
Dream Catches Fire- This video looks at the origins of the Miami Heat and their first NBA season.
NBA Playbook--Getting Shaq space in the post- Four vignettes breaking down a couple of the Heat's key offensive plays.
The Clincher- the 4th quarter of the clinching game of the Finals.
Finals pre-series analysis- NBA TV analysts break down the matchups.
Finals post-series analysis- NBA TV analysts recap the key moments of the Finals.
While I think the NBA has put together lengthier and better video offerings than this, the NBA Finals are covered here in a relatively comprehensive manner over an entertaining 60 minutes. Keep in mind this was released only a month after the finals ended; it was probably deemed the most expedient way to get Finals material to the shelves was to bring out this short synopsis rather than a set containing entire games, or even lengthy play sequences. In any case this will certainly be something that Heat fans will want for their video collection. Go Heat! Recommended.