Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Having Fun Yet?

As a Maverick fan, it can be very easy to forget why you love basketball in the first place. Combined with the recent history of the other Dallas/Forth Worth teams, there's a very depressing atmosphere around this area -- especially about its basketball team.

And I can't really blame you. The horrible 90s teams. The frustrating yet spectacular "Big Three" era. The departure of Steve Nash. June 2006. Late April 2007. The Hornets first-round series. The Nugget series of 2009. The Spurs...every single time (except 2006). All the jump shots. The apparent lack of toughness. No psychical presence down low. The lack of a real point guard. Over-paid players past their prime. All valid complaints during the decade of relevant Mavericks basketball.

But there's a key word there: relevant. I understand that during what appears to be another ordinary year for Dallas (after seemingly starting unordinary) you don't want to read a gushy piece about the Mavericks. Especially from a guy that's about as positive as a storm cloud. But watching last night's game against the Clippers, I had the feeling that a lot of Dallas fans almost wish they could be in the Clippers scenario: Loads of young talent, with pieces that work and will only continue to get better. A bright star the will soon take over the league in a few years. I get it. It's intoxicating to watch a young team before they are even close to maxing out their potential. The same happens for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sometime I wonder if Dallas fans are really Dallas fans anymore. The Thunder have become everyones second favorite team (and for good reason) almost to the point where I can't tell which team the fan base likes anymore at times.

These moods also intensify when the Mavericks are playing garbage basketball. 87 points against New Jersey. 77 against Chicago. 89 versus Detroit. 70 in Memphis. I get it. It's not fun to watch, it's not great basketball and there are other teams out there that are shinning with more youth and personality.

But take a moment to realize that Dallas has won 50 games every season since the 2000-2001 season. They've been in the playoffs every single year. And they've been a lock, as well. Consider that other franchises (even the great ones) don't have that sort of security. The Knicks haven't been to the playoffs in ages. The Bucks are always grasping for that 8th seed. The Pacers and Pistions were constant title contenders in the 2000s and are now fighting to stay out of the lottery. Remember the greatness of those Kings teams 10 years ago? Now they have the worst record in the Western Conference. Even the Lakers were stuck in a mud of mediocrity after their three-peat.

I'm saying this to let people understand the kind of commitment and smarts that make up the Dallas front office and the team. And also because last night was just pure fun. It had been months since a Maverick game had made me feel that giddy and take a trip on my emotional elevator. Hell, J.J. Barea looked like an All-Star, a far cry from his punching-bag self (or should I say, piƱata?) Shawn Marion looked like the Phoenix Shawn Marion. I think even Jason Terry thought he was still chucking away in Atlanta. Tyson Chandler was like the Norse God of basketball. It was fantastic and refreshing to watch. 

Now this is the part where people tell me, "Yeah, but still no title. And we're not getting any younger. And that was against the Clippers." But that was better then what the Mavericks have thrown out there in the last week or so. I haven't seen the AAC that alive, that rowdy in quiet a bit. It was fun again to watch the Mavericks.

I'm sorry that the last few posts haven't dived deep into advanced stats on why some things are working (or not working, i.e., Jason Kidd) but I felt that I needed to say this. People are pretty depressed about the Mavericks. There is still reason to have some hope and be appreciative. Funny that it has to come from me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go sacrifice eight goats to a greater power.

Just kidding.


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