…they just work, and work, and work. They’ve understood the long odds against them over the last six weeks, but this is a veteran group that views basketball as a job over which they can gain the smallest bit more mastery every single day. The results across three or four different cities might not go their way every night, but the Mavs will grind away at their own basketball process.
They’re 10-4 in their last 14 games, now sitting just one game behind the Lakers in the loss column heading into a three-game stretch that will determine whether the bearded Mavs can work their way into an improbable playoff berth. Dallas hosts Indiana and Chicago, two tough Eastern Conference defenses, before heading to Los Angeles next Tuesday for a crucial game against the Lakers — a chance to even the season series and put the tiebreaker back in play. “We are trying to be the greatest comeback story since Lazarus,” Carlisle joked during a phone interview this week with Grantland.
This piece goes into a bunch of detail about lineups, dress codes, points per possession, and defensive lapses, but settles on one point: the Mavs never stop working. Gametime against the Pacers is 7:30, at the AAC. Bring your clippers.
Last night’s game was fun to watch. This highlight reel doesn’t even have the best play, a fast-break, no-look behind-the-back assist from Mike James to Dirk. (I confess that I went to bed at the end of regulation — so old). You know what’s also fun to watch? This.
Note from Brad: After last night’s win against the Clippers, the whole 35-36 team is only one game away from shaving. (That that one game comes against the 44-27 Pacers is insignificant. Completely not even worth noting. Also not worth noting: the game after that is against the Bulls. Really, really not worth noting: the game after that is against the Lakers. And why am I even mentioning this next whisper of a fact: the game after that is against the second-hottest team in the NBA, the Nuggets. I guess what I’m saying is beat the Pacers.)
I’ve told you about it before, but just a quick refresher: The Big Read Dallas is a citywide reading initiative. We’re asking the entire city to read Fahrenheit 451 in April and join us at various events throughout the month. We’ve tasked ninth- and tenth-grade DISD students to lead the charge, so we’re giving every single one of them a free special edition copy (that’s more than 21,000 books).
Next week, we’ll be distributing the books to the 29 high schools that have agreed to either host an assembly, a pep rally, or let us join their English classes. We’ve got an app on the way, DART buses with our posters are starting to run, and, soon, you’ll be seeing the wonderful PSAs that were produced by Reel FX. The above PSA is what we’re showing to students. It’s a little long to run on TV, so I thought we’d show it to you here. The man who put these together, Greg Sunmark, just moved here from Chicago. He’s our new best friend. Not only did he produce the PSAs, but he also did the voiceovers, wrote the music, and then performed the music. I think he’s a good addition to our city.
So, take a look at the PSA, then pick up a copy of Fahrenheit 451. We’re all reading it next month. You should join us.
In an extensive sit-down interview Monday, Grantland’s Zach Lowe chatted with Dirk Nowitzki about his struggles, Shawn Marion’s shooting mechanics, and Mark Cuban’s business decisions. Nowitzki was his usual honest self, especially in this exchange:
Was that the same party where your old friend Steve Nash got a lap dance from Nicki Minaj?
[Laughs] Nah, that was at a different party. So I’ve had Deron’s number since then, and we were texting sometimes. And he knew I wanted him to come here. We talked when it was all in the process. I didn’t fly up on July 1. I wanted him to come. Cubes had to film freaking Shark Tank.
I just watched that for the first time the other night.
I still didn’t. I still refuse to watch it.
It was actually not bad.
I haven’t seen one episode and I probably won’t ever see one.
The whole thing is worth a read.
It’s…not very convincing. But maybe this is the kind of thing that Howard’s looking for. It also includes the line “Dirk can be your sidekick, you can be our Superman,” which, come on. Dirk’s no one’s sidekick.
For the first time since 1998, the Dallas Mavericks will not have an NBA All-Star. It’s the third-longest active streak – behind the Lakers and Spurs – one started in 2000 with Michael Finley and anchored by Dirk Nowitzki since 2002. With Nowitzki’s 27-game absence, no Mav is expected to make the team.
In honor of Finley, watch the above video, likely one of the most-watched videos of all-time for a missed dunk.
Since sports and sports franchises are largely the result of people having eyeballs, liking what they see with those eyeballs, then paying to see those things again and again with those eyeballs, much of this post will be in video form.
The Big German was one of the team’s nominees to throw out a first pitch at one of their home games. But according to our pal, ESPN’s Marc Stein, Major League Baseball decided not to approve the request. Why? One possible reason: the NBA’s current labor unrest. A MLB spokesperson denies that. Here’s their reasoning:
“You want the club’s input in what makes sense for them and then we talk about what makes sense for the team and a good broad-base national appeal.”
I don’t even know what to tell you guys. OK. I’ll try. In other words, Dirk Nowitzki, the NBA’s MOST MARKETABLE PLAYER, has no broad-base national appeal. Bud Selig can go jump in a lake full of rusty pitchforks and food-deprived sharks.
Some of you are still mourning the Great Cowboys Implosion of 2011 this morning (and some of you got the double whammy this weekend of the Second Great Aggies Implosion of 2011, too). There are many, many articles out there right now about what happened, how it happened, whether Tony Romo is to blame, etc. Even Dirk Nowitzki took to Twitter to comfort ToRo.
And then I came across this on Yahoo Sports – an article that says that if we were Kansas City or Cleveland or Seattle, we’d be thrilled to have Romo. That he’s actually a decent quarterback that does better than most of his post-Troy Aikman predecessors, and it’s just following people like Aikman, Staubach and Don Meredith that makes him seem so lackluster. I’m not entirely certain I agree that it’s just a case of Romo having the bad luck of being on a team whose fans expect a lot of their quarterback, though. You guys?
One more story about the shoot with Dirk. It is an unwritten rule that during these sorts of interfaces with athletes, journalists are not to ask for personal photos or autographs or anything like that. Not only are journalists supposed to be above that sort of fanboy behavior, but some athletes are put off by such a request. One word to the media relations folks with the teams, and suddenly you don’t get access next time you ask for an interview. So as photographer Billy Surface was at work with Dirk, Zac turns to me and says, “I guess it would be unprofessional to ask to have our picture taken with Dirk.” To which I replied, “Of course that would be unprofessional. And of course we’re going to do it.” I felt like a kid standing next to Dirk — and not just because he’s so tall. Because the last time I admired a player so much, with such pure, light-hearted amazement, was when I was a kid. Anyway, the pic:
By now you’ve likely seen the “Best of Big D” cover image of Dirk Nowitzki taken by Billy Surface. Billy took the photo just two days after the Mavs had won the NBA Championship. We got about 10 minutes alone with Dirk in a makeshift studio of sorts that Billy had set up on the court of the AAC. Dirk was as friendly as you’ve been led to believe he is, but he was a little punchy. I think he’d had about three hours of sleep over the previous two nights, owing to general giddiness and some world-class carousing with the Larry O’Brien trophy.
As Billy was clicking away, his strobe lights flashing, I tried to get a smile out of Dirk. “Hey,” I said, “you know this shot is for the cover, right? You gotta lay it all on the court for us, Dirk.”
In that beautiful German accent of his, he replied, “So this time I beat out the pork jowls for the cover? What did I do to deserve that?”
It was a funny line that requires some explanation. Back in December 2009, Zac put together an oral history of a decade of Dirk in Dallas. Dirk sat for an interview and a photograph, which, with some digital magic, we turned into a throwback trading card. I was proud of how the whole thing came together. But each year in December, we publish our selections of the best new restaurants that have opened that year. So the cover in December 2009 was a picture of Bolsa’s Kurobuta pork jowls. Delicious but not Dirk.
I was stunned that he remembered with such detail the dish that, in his mind, had superseded him to land on our cover. This clearly explains why Dirk had to run off the court after Game 6 and cry in the locker room before he could compose himself enough to accept the MVP award. His hard work had finally paid off. After all those extra hours in the gym, after all the summers spent working out with Holger Geschwindner, he’d finally proven himself the equal of those pork jowls.
Via the always great Ball Don’t Lie comes word that JET is looking for a home for what he’s calling Homecourt Advantage:
Set in the glitzy world of NBA basketball star Jason Terry, this is a comical, never before-seen look at his off-court life with high school sweetheart wife, four young daughters, crazy mom and pimp dad.
Eh, I guess. I mean, OBVIOUSLY obviously I would watch that. I would watch any Maverick-related reality show, but most of them, honestly, would be pretty boring. Anyway, a quick ranking. Actually, I could and would do it for everyone in the organization — and don’t think I wouldn’t watch one starring communications team Sarah Melton and Scott Tomlin — but I’ll just hit you with my top 3.
If you follow me on Twitter — @zaccrain, where most of the tweets follow my continuing investigation into the sordid history of root beer and the scions of the Barq’s empire — you already know this. Anyway, I just got back from a much-need vacation from coming up with stupid hypotheticals and making Tim sad about his hair. My last evening in New York — which is where I was and I guess I could have mentioned that in the previous sentence, but I thought the headline implied it — I was just kind of wandering around, looking for a place to read and watch people. I stopped in a little park off of 7th Avenue. Across from me, spread over two park benches, were three homeless (I would guess; I didn’t actually ask) guys.
For a few minutes, they were talking about whatever. Then, talk turned to basketball.
The Big German went to his hometown, Wurzburg, Germany, to be showered with more kisses today. I look at this picture of the proceedings and can’t help but think that our little Victory Plaza shindig, where the cops shut down access and only allowed in a few thousand people, kinda sucks compared to the party in Wurzburg. And bear in mind that the population of Wurzburg is only about 133,000.
Anyway, good for Dirk. Dude deserves it.
I love a good malapropism. And I love people who issue them in humorous ways. My wife, for instance, once declaimed: “You are skating on a thin thread, mister!” That’s good stuff.
Which brings me to this gem from Dirk at the rally inside in the AAC after the parade: “It’s been an amazing ride, an amazing journey. There’s been a lot of ups, a lot of downs. This is the top of the iceberg, and it feels absolutely amazing.”
Bear in mind that he did this in his second language, which makes it all the more impressive. It’s like his off-balance, one-legged fadeaway, a thing of beauty that you want to rewind and watch in slow-mo so you can see just how he did it. “It’s been an amazing ride. There’s been a lot of ups, a lot of downs.” Okay, so those words, for most people, would call to mind a roller coaster. That’s where you expect Dirk to go. But no. He fakes you out and instead goes for — a mountaintop? No! Your second guess is wrong! Dirk is three moves ahead of you. He goes for the top of the iceberg — which, of course, is only a few feet above sea level.
But wait. Also notice that he goes to the “top of the iceberg,” rather than the “tip of iceberg,” the latter (and much more common) expression referring to a large problem, only part of which is evident.
Swish. The ball splashes through the nylon, and Dirk goes running back down to the other end of the court, wagging his tongue and popping his jersey, as you’re left to stand there and scratch your head, wondering how the hell he just did that.