Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whether I Believe it or Not, it’s a Great Show

Although I’m still too gun-shy from the spate of Dallas sports disappointments to feel all that confident that Jason Kidd can get the Mavericks a championship, I love this deal.

If anyone has been keeping up with this blog, you know that I have suffered from apathy this entire season. I still check box scores, and I’m still happy when Dallas is up in the standings. I watched a good chunk of the All-Star game, and I probably would have watched Dallas-Phoenix last Thursday if it hadn’t been Valentine’s Day. But I’ve written infrequently, and mostly written about generalities, because I just haven’t cared much about what was happening on the court.

I know a lot of Texans have experienced the same feelings. Mark Stein wrote this morning that Mark Cuban “spoke repeatedly Tuesday of a growing ‘malaise’ in Big D,” so I assume it’s not just because I’m out of range for watching local telecasts that I haven’t really cared.

I had a post before the season started where I pushed for Kobe, even if it meant giving up Howard, Harris, and Dampier. The point was not that Kobe would guarantee a winner, but that he would make it worthwhile to watch the regular season again:
Here’s the real issue: if we don’t trade for Kobe, we’re facing 82 games of the most meaningless basketball any of us can imagine. It’ll be like watching the pre-season out there. And I know we all said the same thing going into last year, but this time it’ll be for real.

Going back to where I started: basketball is supposed to be entertainment. I’m sure there will be exciting individual games, but the real fun of an NBA season comes with arguing with your friends about whether the team has what it takes to win it all, or whether your best player has a shot at MVP. If ever there have been two moot points, they are these two questions for this squad.
What I anticipated has matched reality, at least in my experience. In fact, the last post that I was particularly excited about was all the way back in November, and it was about Jason Kidd. Last year, I admit I was pretty committed to Dirk, even though I knew his flaws pretty well. I still think he earned his MVP, and I still think he’ll always be remembered as a great player. But one truly great regular season is still just one season, and disappointment can stifle a guy’s feelings.

My admiration for Jason Kidd, on the other hand, runs deep -- all the way back to my sophomore year of high school, when my brother had the good sense to suggest that we get tickets for the Mavericks’ opening game of 1994. It was evident by the end of the game that Kidd was the best thing that had happened to the Mavericks in a long time.

The decision to trade him two years later was just one in a long string of absurdities that culminated in the Mavericks having traded 10 of their 12 players by the end of that season. Faced with locker room conflicts early that year, the Mavericks lost their mind just long enough to allow Jim Cleamons to push through a trade of Kidd for Michael Finley, and only a few games later (if memory serves), they brought in Don Nelson, who then traded, basically, the rest of the team. If management had had any foresight at all, they surely would have kept Kidd and traded everyone else, but those were not years in which Mavericks’ management was known for doing things sensibly.

On the bright side, the monumental mismanagement of the team in the mid-90’s may have contributed to Mark Cuban becoming frustrated enough as a fan that he just decided to buy the franchise. He had a great quote a few years ago (again, if I’m remembering correctly) that ran something like, “I was looking at how the Mavericks were being run, thinking, ‘Man, I could do better than that.’ And then I realized: ‘Hey, I can afford that team.”

So it’s good to have Kidd back, mostly because I’ve missed being excited about my team.

But here’s another point that it’s fun to think about: with nine Western Conference teams on pace to win 50 games, and only 4 1/2 games between first and ninth, plus the trades for Gasol, Shaq, and Kidd, could this be shaping up as the coolest finish to a regular season of my lifetime so far? I’m thinking these playoffs might even top out 2006, which folks said might have had the best first two rounds ever, with its first-round duels of Nash-Kobe and LeBron-Arenas, and the second-round match-up between Dallas and San Antonio. One way or the other, this regular season is on its way to becoming historic, and the Mavericks just became a serious part of it.


micah said...

I was wondering when you were going to comment on this. It makes sense that you wouldn't speak until it was a done deal - and man did it take a while to become a done deal. But it is done. I was not really pushing for any big moves from the Mavs this year, but I actually find myself getting pretty excited to see how this thing is going work. I resisted the idea that this regular season would be meaningless, but I too sense the malaise. Even when I get to watch a game, I don't get very excited about it and usually find myself channel hoping. But I sure wish I was getting the game tonight. I can't wait for March when I will finally get Fox Sports Southwest. Here comes a time of great unproductivity for me. I can't wait!

Jeremy said...


Cody said...

I'm glad to see that you're posting again. My interest has indeed been renewed in the wake of this trade.

Plus I finally have a local Mavvericks buddy. One of my professors is from Dallas and is a huge Mavs fan. Each Tuesday and Thursday morning we discuss the Mavericks. We plan to attend the game on March 27th together.