DALLAS _ Don’t think for a minute that the Dallas Mavericks didn’t appreciate the stellar defense Shawn Marion played in the playoffs.
Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ general manager, explained that Marion’s role on defense was just as critical to Dallas’ success as the jobs turned in by Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea and the other players in the rotation.
“(Mavs coach) Rick (Carlisle) gave him a challenge, and we’re not sitting here with the (championship) cup without his defense against three of the best players that have played in the history of our game,’’ Nelson said. “I’m talking about LeBron James, Kobe (Bryant) and Kevin Durant.’’
The defensive performances by Marion were incredible considering he spent most of his career running up and down the court in the Phoenix Suns’ fastbreak offense while paying very little attention to defense. It wasn’t until Marion got to Dallas in 2009 did anyone know that he really could play defense.
“I don’t know of a guy that’s transformed his game as much as Shawn has, because he wasn’t known as a defender when he got here,’’ Nelson said. “But he was the guy that had to stick (James, Bryant and Durant), and he doesn’t have a backup.
“When Caron (Butler) went down (with a season-ending knee injury on New Year’s Day), Shawn didn’t have much rest. He’s one of the unsung heroes of this championship run.’’
-- Dwain Price
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