My 1-on-1 visit with Rick Carlisle ... An under-read story about the coke-fueled Knicks fixing games…
Mavs Stream-Of-Consciousness Donuts
DONUT 1: Riding the Stream ...
At this point, 99 percent of the basketball news out there is an echo of something previously written or discussed, filler to bridge the gap from the close of meaningful free agency and the draft to the opening of camps. Occasionally, there's a snap of light in the dark ( Dirk to play overseas?), a flicker that pulls us in or draws us offsides. But, more often than not, there's just a steady flow of regurgitated material pieced together with just enough variation to trick the casual eye, to entice the appetite of the starved.
DB.com is about to hit the accelerator, of course. I know Fish is now spending his days prowling the AAC, so around here the information is about to flow.
But at this moment, most of us are tumbling through this time with everyone else, here are some of my random observations in a stream-of-consciousness format:
DONUT 2: The Bin of the Overlooked ...
I can't tell if I'm overly sensitive to the matter, or simply a not-so-unique version of fans everywhere, when feeling the Mavs are eternally bound to the bin of the overlooked, the slighted, or the underappreciated.
Is it the curse of Dallas being the bottom lip of the upper-echelon of NBA markets: good enough to garner a mention, a haphazard analysis, or passing glimpse, but not nationally significant enough to spend real time and effort to ensure what is portrayed is an accurate representation of the whole?
Big enough to draw lazy clicks (if you let your eyes unfocus a bit, "clicks" turns into another word that's equally fitting), but not large enough to hold the attention of casual fans with no ties to the Metroplex?
Or, is it simply the martyr complex shared by everyone outside of New York and Los Angeles and not lucky enough to have a player transcendently marketable or SportsCenter-friendly -- and as desirous of becoming a "brand" -- as they are gifted on the court?
Do we feel the scrape of every perceived slight with exaggerated awareness because the disrespect is disproportionately aimed the Dallas Mavericks' way, or are we truly just like almost every other fanbase?
Does it matter? Maybe this is just one facet of why we love sports, one component of its "Us vs. the World" mentality?
DONUT 3: The Baylessization of Sports ...
Sometimes I think it would be fun to be someone like Skip Bayless. I mean, is anyone held less accountable for their opinions than those of his ilk?
I could say Dirk Nowitzki is simply the best player the NBA has ever known, could disregard the need to back up that claim in any substantive manner, and wouldn't even really need to believe it myself.
I could say the Miami Heat are the bastard of the "I-want-it-and-I-want-it-now-with-the-least-effort-possible" generation and not worry if that isn't even remotely true, because I know it would strike a nerve with a select few who would misinterpret their desire to despise the Heat as my having a clue, and I'd let them create any arguments I wasn't smart enough to come up with on my own.
I wouldn't have to worry about the blowback … because everyone knows I'm full of shit. Hell, I'd know I was full of shit. I wouldn't even take offense when people called me on it, because … who cares, attention is attention. I may be an idiot, but I'm not an idiot … or something like that.
I could say any bloated, exaggerated thing I wanted on any topic. When you're getting paid to troll, as long as you don't stray into the politically incorrect, nothing said is outside the lines of what defines you. Anything is fair game. The death of truth is collateral damage beside goals that are not tied to it, to integrity, to fairness, to reality.
D-Wade had sex with at least seven referees in 2006, "sources*" tell me, who in turn assured him of at least one Title.
*"sources" are defined in this case as some weird place in my imagination that craves attention.
That's right … just went all Bayless on your ass.
Also, Vince Young is still going to be the greatest quarterback of all time.
DONUT 4: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Follow the Mavs on Twitter: Mike Fisher, Chuck Perry , David Lord and Michael Dugat keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs!
DONUT 5: Swimming just beneath the surface ...
I find, swimming just beneath the surface and shying away from any spotlight, a weird brand of optimism for the upcoming Mavs season, timid and uncertain, but undeniably present.
It feels like a soup of the uncertainty created by change, the possibilities of the unknown, and a doubt bred from the same.
In a way, it's similar to the feelings found a year ago around this time, when it seemed possible that Darren Collison, the antithesis in style of play from Jason Kidd, paired with the possibility of the OJ Mayo redemption song (hey, that's sort of a Bob Marley reference) written by the guiding hands of Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki, in addition to a guy that was thought to be the most offensively-gifted center in franchise history, a guy that already had chemistry with Dirk thanks to their time on the German national team, Chris Kaman, and the not-quite-done-yet Elton Brand; there was a sprinkling of hope in a future too muddled, too new, too open to possibly see clearly.
DONUT 6: Party time! ...
A tip of the cap of appreciation to Frisco Party Station, your neighborhood headquarters for all your party needs ... everything! All the neighborhood schools represented -- college and even high school! -- and the party is on!
DONUT 7: Is it just me? ...
Perhaps it's a litmus test on my own subconscious.
In the darkness of the unknown, our minds do most of the constructing, if we reach blindly out in search of hope, even in its faintest flickers, that's likely to be what we will find. If we go hand-in-hand with anger, resentment, doubt or distrust, the picture we are sure to unfold will likely be a cousin of that.
So, maybe this wisp of hope I find is only my personal delusion … if you're nodding right now, also know that what you pluck from the darkness is likely your own branch of the same delusion, be it in line with or opposing my own.
DONUT 8: Flying The Monta Flag ...
I went into the offseason hoping the Mavs wouldn't sign two players. There was no context to this desire, just a simple wish list … or would it be a "wish-not list" in this case?
I wanted no part of Andrew Bynum or Monta Ellis in a Mavs uniform … half a wish granted. If you search my Twitter timeline, I'm sure you can find this precise sentiment expressed at one time or another.
Funny how things, how context, can change.
I felt the same about OJ Mayo a season ago, wanted no part of him … until he was signed. Then, inexplicably, I got excited about it.
Given how the season ended, Mayo's time in Dallas is viewed by many as a failure … though Mayo shouldn't be one of those, he need only look at the deal he signed with Milwaukee to view his year in Dallas as a success. And, though he did fail to mesh with Dirk on the court, it's troubling to think of just how poorly last season could have gone if Mayo hadn't been there to carry the offense in Dirk's absence.
Parallel to that thought, how differently could things have gone had Dirk been healthy throughout training camp, through the countless practices he missed, the preseason games … if the team had been allowed the shared court-time to smooth an overwhelming wave of new teammates, including Mayo.
In truth, that team never got an honest chance at cohesion, at least not in a prolonged stint. Injuries gave the entire season some resemblance to a driver learning to use a standard transmission … lurch and stop and lurch and stall and lurch and …
And now, the Mavs take a step back, by resetting continuity once more, in the hopes of taking many forward. The smaller-than-envisioned deal for Ellis and the context (context including what we've heard from Ellis, what some of the numbers show, and where the Mavs stood after missing on Chris Paul and Dwight Howard) has changed my viewpoint. There was a battle in my head. The victor now flies the Monta Flag. I'm on board.
For better or worse, I'm in.
DONUT 9: Is hope naive? ...
Sure, in a dark corner of my mind I may be glossing over the figure hugging its knees to its chest, rocking back and forth and whispering a continuous loop of warning, warning of a lingering doubt that a player I never previously thought really made his teams better is who he is, still is who he I thought he was … but there's something else that wasn't there before, something that was able to banish that figure to the shadows.
Maybe it's naivety wearing the guise of hope, but I'll accept that now with open arms.
Now, it's up to Ellis to prove one faction or the other right. Will he play his own redemption song, or feed the bitter whine of those always waiting in line to shrug an "I told you so?"
Whatever will come, as of this moment, I've talked myself into the positives of what could be with Ellis … also, he's been one of the most entertaining players I've ever used on NBA 2K.
DONUT 10: Thanks to Red Rock! ...
Our North Dallas hangout for sports and live music? It's Red Rock Bar & Grill! They help make DB.com what it is ... thanks, guys!
DONUT 11: Not a revelation, more of a continuation ...
Why is it that we so often choose to tear down the highest peaks in our desire to label a team's flaws?
Can't help but feel a prickling discomfort for the nature of dissection going on in Rangers' Nation right now over Yu Darvish, arguably the best player on that team (though Adrian Beltre could be a better choice … but that's not the point here).
Having endured years of every line of crap from being labeled too soft, too European, incapable of being the best player on a championship team, to "blow it up" and start the rebuilding process by getting rid of Dirk; maybe I'm a little overly sensitive to such things … and that doesn't even take into account Tony Romo (I have no interest in a Romo debate with you. I'll admit I'm a Romo supporter. I'll also say it's a stale, stagnant argument that hasn't raised a new point in years).
People have moved on from bashing Dirk, at least in the same manner as pre-championship complaints … but only because his team had the ultimate success. Because his teammates rose closer to his level, carried him when his shot was off, complemented him when he was on, his reputation has soared.
Dirk was great in the 2010-11 playoffs, but, guess what? He'd been great in the playoffs for quite some time. 2010-11 was not a revelation, more of a continuation.
Dirk has been to the playoffs 12 times in his career. In the 2010-11 postseason, he had his sixth-best playoff PER, his third- and fourth-best true-shooting and effective field-goal percentages respectively, his 11th best rebounds-per-game, ninth best rebounding percentage, tied with two other postseasons for his seventh best offensive rating, tied with two other seasons for his third best defensive rating and had his worst playoff-career turnover percentage … though he did average his highest points per game (all according to Basketball-Reference.com).
He was great. There is no argument against that. However, he'd been great before. Hell, he'd been better before, statistically speaking, and the accolades eluded him almost solely because his teammates didn't come through in the manner they did in 2010-11.
That was a great team. Dirk was the best player on it.
I'm really not writing to defend Yu, regardless of how unwarranted much of his criticism feels to me -- there are many baseball writers better suited than I to present that argument -- only to ponder the nature of directing the blame for a team's failures at its best players, players that have and will always require adequate support to achieve ultimate success.
The curse of being blessed.
Obviously, there is the other end of that spectrum that sees these gifted athletes receive more than their fair share of the reward for team success, and there's more to the discussion than is being presented here …
Maybe my only point is this: good things can be hard to find, can disappear as quickly and easily as they appeared, sometimes it's fun to just breathe them in and enjoy them, to appreciate our time with them.
Too preachy? Too righteous? Maybe … probably.
I don't think I'm better than anyone, nor do I think the methodology of my fandom is somehow better. But, being a human, I can have my petty pet peeves just like everyone else. So, some will bitch about Yu/Romo and some used to bitch about Dirk (maybe still do) … and I'll bitch about them to complete the circle … bitching begets bitching begets …
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Well, that's probably enough for now. See you further down the stream. ... and soon, I'll see you at the AAC!