DALLAS - Maybe "versus'' is too strong a word. After all, in the end, coach Rick Carlisle said lovely things about his time at the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, said lovely things about star Luka Doncic, and had Mavs owner Mark Cuban calling Rick his "basketball soulmate.''
But the Carlisle-Doncic partnership wasn't always smooth. So Dallas "versus'' the Indiana Pacers, the team Carlisle now coaches, opposing one another twice in the 2022-23 NBA schedule? Is that the right phrasing?
Sure. Circle 'em. Sure. "Versus'' 'em as well.
ESPN, as Carlisle was going out the Dallas door in late June following his resignation, termed it "simmering tension between Carlisle and Doncic.'' For Carlisle's part, he said, "I just sent (Doncic) a message thanking him for three amazing years. I learned many things from him, and I told him that I'm glad I'm only going to see him twice a year. I mean it in the most complimentary way, of course."
"Twice a year.'' It's Dallas at Indiana on Dec. 10, and Indiana here at the AAC on Jan. 29.
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There are your "versus.'' "Versuses.'' Whichever.
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Carlisle spent 13 seasons in Dallas, becoming the franchise's winningest coach with a 555-478 record. He led the Mavs to the franchise's only championship in 2010-11. He returns to Indiana, where he coached previously for four seasons (2003-04 to 2006-07), compiling a 181-147 record and making the playoffs three times, including an Eastern Conference finals appearance in 2003-04.
It will surely be an "event'' when the two teams clash, with Jason Kidd now coaching Dallas - an "event,'' especially, in our eyes, because of the fact that at least in public, Doncic hasn't in turn thanked Carlisle for their largely successful partnership.
Maybe that "thank you'' will be handed out in Indy on Dec. 10. Or at the AAC on Jan. 29.
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