One sits on each shoulder, incessantly whispering into our ears polarizing views of Dallas’ NBA team.
The dreamer is Maverick. The devil is Mavwreck.
They have been at odds for eternity, better known as 1980. They’ve squabbled over Dick Motta’s style, Roy Tarpley’s substance, Chandler Parsons’ contract, The Three Js’ toxicity, Mark Cuban’s passion, Donnie Nelson’s scorecard, the workplace culture scandal and Dirk Nowitzki being too soft or just right.
With only one championship in 41 seasons, Mavwreck typically wins the argument. His pessimistic version of reality regularly drowns out Maverick’s unbridled loyalty and irrational hope.
In 2021, they’re at it again. Current topic: Is this year’s team good enough to snap the franchise’s 10-year playoff series drought?
MAVWRECK: How ’bout that game Monday night?
MAVERICK: Oh stuff a sock in it, Buzz Killington.
MAVWRECK: Up 11 in the third quarter at home against the Suns. Poof. Another loss. Another sign that this – again – just isn’t the year.
MAVERICK: We were right there. Just gotta clean some stuff up. Make some tweaks.
MAVWRECK: Tweaks? You need an extreme makeover, physically and mentally. How do you not use your “foul to give” on Phoenix’s final possession? You think championship teams give Devin Booker a clean look at a game winner? Bang!
MAVERICK: Gotta admit, that one stung. Maxi’s gotta foul Chris Paul before he passes, or Josh has to grab Booker. Something. But you heard Rick, we’re this close. “We’re learning the hard way that attention to the smallest details are of the utmost importance,” the coach said. “It’s hard to imagine being more disappointed. But we’re doing too many good things to not keep pushing toward progress.”
MAVWRECK: Blah blah blah. Six consecutive losses, and counting.
MAVERICK: That game – that loss – will be rock-bottom. It’ll be a turning point. You watch.
MAVWRECK: How many times have I heard that since 2011?
MAVERICK: That’s right, baby. 2011! This team is capable of putting it together and making a run, just like that …
MAVWRECK: Granted, that one I’ll never win. But do I need to remind you that since then they are 7-20 in the playoffs without winning a single series?
MAVERICK: We’ve got Luka playing at an MVP level. He’s an almost automatic triple-double. I heard Cuban this week on the Suiting Up with Paul Rabil Podcast say he might even one day pass Oscar Robertson for the most ever. “If he stays healthy,” Cuban said, “he’s got a helluva shot.”
MAVWRECK: Yeah, but he’s hurt or something. Always wincing, grabbing at his knee, playing even slower than normal. And he’s not happy. Six Ts already. Monday night you saw him pound the scorer’s table after the buzzer. Your leader is about to explode, or maybe implode.
MAVERICK: We’ve got KP, just now rounding into shape.
MAVWRECK: 7-3, but might as well be 6-3. Doesn’t use his size to bully smaller defenders. Rarely gets both feet in the paint on offense. Just an extremely gifted jump-shooter waiting for his next injury.
MAVERICK: We’ve got Carlisle, one of the best coaches in NBA history.
MAVWRECK: Is he though? 12 seasons in Dallas coaching Dirk and/or Luka and he’s got only one championship. One! Of course, you probably think the Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy is “one of the best” coaches in NFL history because he won one Super Bowl in 13 years with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, right?
MAVERICK: Why are you always so negative?! I so hope your evil hedge fund convinced you to short GameStop.
MAVWRECK: Unfortunately. But I was also tipped off to COVID so I loaded up my portfolio with vaccine companies. If the variants are indeed stronger than the original, I’m gonna kill it!
MAVERICK: Speaking of COVID, our team has also had more players miss games for health-and-safety protocol than any other. Maxi and DFS and Dwight and Josh missed a total of 41 games. Beyond our control, we’ve been discombobulated. Monday night was the first time all season we’ve had our full, healthy roster.
MAVWRECK: Yeah, and look what happened.
MAVERICK: &*%$#@* you!! I know the Mavs are off to a slow start. But it’s no time to panic. Positives abound! We’ve played more road games (13) than any other team.
MAVWRECK: There are no fans this year. Homecourt advantage is negligible at best. Games are games, regardless of the locale of the empty building.
MAVERICK: With James Harden in Brooklyn, the West is a little bit easier.
MAVWRECK: The Rockets have won six in a row. You’ve lost six in a row. They’re better than you. Almost everybody is, you know? At 8-13, only five teams have fewer wins. You keep fabricating rainbows and Daffodils, but truth is your team is much closer to worst than first.
MAVERICK: It’s still early. Lotsa great teams started slow and went on to win a championship. The Cowboys were 0-2 in 1993 and won the Super Bowl. The Blues were 8-12 before winning the Stanley Cup in 2019. Shoot, I remember us starting 0-4 in 2007 and then winning a franchise-record 67 games. And what are we now, only 30 percent into the season?
MAVWRECK: Not only is it not early, it’s already too late. Try to keep up: 21 games into this COVID-shortened, 72-game season is about 30 percent. In a regular, 82-game season, 30 percent is 24 games. So I did a little digging and … you’re not going to like this. In the 22 seasons they made the playoffs, your Mavs have never been below .500 at the 30-percent mark. Right now, 8-13.
MAVERICK: Yeah … but …
MAVWRECK: At similar points in the season, they were 18-6 when they went to the NBA Finals in 2006. 19-5 in 2011. For crying out loud, they were 16-6 last year before COVID curtailed that schedule. If a team is gonna be worth a damn, by now they’ve shown it.
MAVERICK: But chemistry. Gelling. Injuries. COVID. Road games.
MAVWRECK: Stop your reaching. Fact: If this year’s Mavs make the playoffs they’ll have done it despite – by far – their worst record at the 30-percent mark in franchise history. It’s a bridge too far. A hole too deep.
MAVERICK: Fake … news?
MAVWRECK: Read it and weep.
2012: 12-8 (66-game schedule due to lockout)
2020: 16-6 (75-game schedule due to COVID)
2021: 8-13 (72-game schedule due to COVID)
MAVWRECK: Time to admit it. Your Mavs are the biggest disappointment this year in the NBA. Other than Luka, they have no one playing even close to an All-Star level. Despite the off-season moves they aren’t drastically better on defense. And all the sudden they’re one of the worst 3-point shooting teams. Guess you shouldn’t have discarded Seth Curry after all, huh? Best you can hope for is to get in the Lottery, get another piece – or two – for Luka and try again in 2022. He ain’t getting any younger.
MAVERICK: No way! No true fan is raising the white flag before Valentine’s Day. Unlike last year’s hectic, hurried bubble, this year is back to being a marathon. The trade deadline is still two months away.The playoffs don’t start until around Memorial Day.We’ve got seven of nine coming up at home and …
MAVWRECK: Give it up. It’s over.
MAVERICK: It starts in Atlanta Wednesday night! Beat the Hawks and …