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Anyone else read the chat/interview he had at dallasbasketball? here's a piece of it...

By the time we were done exchanging emails, Ric had essentially asserted to me that:
# Dallas would have a harder time replacing Josh Howard than replacing Dirk.

# Billups, Nash and Bryant are more indispensible to their teams than Dirk is to his.

# Dallas is improved on defense for reasons unrelated to Dirk.

# Dirk doesn't do the little things that make his team better in a manner that is vital to Dallas' success.

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FISH: Ric, should you have created another category tailored to recognize Dirk's worthiness?
BUCHER: "I could've, and probably should've, substituted Elton with Dirk in the category of 'players who are statistically impressive on teams that are better than expected.' as I said in my column, MVP selection has a lot to do with how you define MVP. For me, being indispensable and tailoring your game to exploit the abilities of your teammates are vital components. if you take Billups, Nash and Kobe off their respective teams, they would not come close to doing what they've done this season. Take Dirk off the Mavs and they would certainly suffer, but how much? Whose game would be most affected? I don't believe he has the same impact on the rest of the Mavs that those other players do on their teams.''
FISH: Do you really view Dirk as someone who 'doesn't create shots for others, doesn't play help D, etc,'' and is therefore unworthy? Isn't that kind of trite, given the fact that when you actually play a game of basketball -- even a pickup game -- you realize that an excellent teammate by definition makes your job easier, draws more and better defenders, clears out room for you, and the like? You don't think Dirk has made JET a better shooter, that Dirk's presence helps big men get rebounds, that Dirk's presence clears out room for others to work, one-on-one, sometimes one-on-none?
BUCHER: "To be fair, it's not that he never creates shots for someone else or doesn't help on D. He just doesn't do those things to the extent that they are a vital part of the Mavs' team. My personal feeling is that they'd have a much harder time replacing Josh Howard and his role on the team than what Dirk does.''
FISH: Ric, you're almost saying that Josh Howard is more valuable than Dirk. Actually, you DID say that in your chat. "Josh Howard fits my idea of an MVP more than Dirk.'' Is that what you meant to say? What GMs/coaches would possibly agree with that? You don't see that God created a lot more Josh Howards than he did Dirk Nowitzkis?
BUCHER: "I'd argue that the reason the Mavericks are so much better this season is because Josh Howard is so much better and that the team, collectively, has bought into the defensive mindset Avery Johnson has asked for. dirk is better, to be sure, but his improvement is one of several reasons, not 'the' reason the Mavericks are where they are.''
FISH: But again, Ric, isn't, by definition, ANY candidate for MVP a guy who makes his team better? Really, aren't all five guys on the floor interlocking, in the sense that while, say, Kobe makes Odom better, Odom also (in theory, anyway) makes Kobe better? Is there a great player who makes his team worse? That seems more than trite. ... it seems like nonsense.
BUCHER: "Dirk is a unique player, no question -- but what he does for the mavs is not indispensable. Take away Josh, on the other hand, and you take away their best offensive initiator and their best perimeter defender. It's no accident that Avery decided this season to post up Josh as a staple of their offense, run plays through him in order to create chances for Dirk to spot up or dribble drive. The Mavs have never used Dirk the way the Spurs use, say, Tim Duncan or even the Timberwolves use KG.''
FISH: But I go back to where each team would be without their top guy: I think most people thought Dallas, with dirk and relatively unknown supporting cast, would be a 50-win team IF he continued to play as he did last year, when he was third in MVP voting. So, they instead win 60 and he's BETTER than he was last year! When you talk about what you think a team would be without their star. ... take into consideration that you thought Dallas would win 50 even with him! Oh, and as far as Detroit, if they didn't have Billups, they'd still have three All-Stars. If Dallas didn't have Dirk. ...
BUCHER: "Anyone who wants to say Dirk, as far as his skills, is the best all-around player the Mavs have would not get an argument from me. I'm not saying Josh is a better all-around player. but that's MEP, not MVP, as i see it.''
FISH: Ric, thanks for taking the time. I know you're swamped with regular work, plus with the s---storm your take here has caused. And keep up the good work. ... "good,'' that is, except when you're as wrong as you are on this one! Oh by the way: Why don't you re-grow that soul patch? Kind of like hockey players grow playoff beards?
BUCHER: "The reason the patch probably won't resurface is that far too many people have them now. The host of 'Cheaters', for God's sake, has one -- and, yes, it is a bit troublesome that I know that.''
There was a time when I thought the omission was related to deadlines for ESPN The Magazine. Then I thought it was an accidental oversight that I'd help repair. Then I thought maybe Ric left Dirk out on purpose, just to be controversial. Then, after the column and then the chat and now this conversation, I'm convinced:
Like Sampson's strength and his hair, the absence of Ric Bucher's soul patch has robbed him of all his deductive reasoning ability
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