Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …
*The Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night did something they hadn’t done in 12 days in a place where they hadn’t done it in seven years. As they flirted with blowing a 111-96 lead with 3:47 remaining, it wasn’t pretty. But any victory that breaks a six-game losing streak feels perfect.
Cherry on top was snapping an irrational seven-game losing streak in Atlanta.
*The Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night did something they … well, can we talk more about Wednesday? There are 147 reasons to forget Thursday.
READ MORE: Mavs Embarrassed; Something's Gotta Give
*The Dallas Mavericks on Friday did something that ... well, Rick Carlisle is now listed by oddsmakers as the most likely NBA coach to be the first to be fired.
A project for another day is how unlikely and even nonsensical I find that to be. For now? It simply speaks to the depths to which the Mavs have plummeted, where even the best aspects of the organization have invited this level of abuse.
*Believe it or not, there was a time when Super Bowl Weekend had relevance to fans of the Dallas Cowboys. If you are 25 years old or younger, you haven’t a clue.
I was fortunate to attend three of the five Cowboys’ Super Bowl wins as a writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The other two I watched on TV and remember – both times – my parents letting me miss school the ensuing Monday because it was a “Cowboys holiday.”
Since it’s been so long, let’s dig the Cowboys’ Super Bowl wins out of the moth balls and rank ’em.
READ MORE: What Are Cowboys Odds For Next Super Bowl?
I know, I know. It’s a task akin to a mother singling out a favorite among her five children. But, if we’re honest, we judge – and rank – everything. Even though they’re ultimately the same, sometimes yesterday’s hamburger just tasted better than today’s. Or vice-versa. Maybe it was the extra mustard. Maybe a different bun. Or perhaps it was just the gap between trips to the same burger joint that enhanced the taste.
So, even though we all have about five identical pairs hanging in the closet, let’s slip into our favorite blue jeans and remember the Cowboys in the Super Bowl by finding our favorite. There are five. And they each represent the same thing – a championship season. But for different reasons and personal preferences, some are indeed more perfect than others.
5. XXVIII 1993 Cowboys 30, Bills 13 – About as ho-hum as a Super Bowl can get, it was another expected blowout over another overmatched Bills’ team in the wake of Dallas’ bigger victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. The Cowboys actually trailed at halftime, but dominated the second half, 24-0, by simply handing the ball to Emmitt Smith. The feeling was good, but noticeably blunted by a better game on a bigger stage 12 months before.
4. XII 1977 Cowboys 27, Broncos 10 – Beating former teammate Craig Morton and Denver’s hyped “Orange Crush” defense was satisfying, but topping a hapless opponent that committed eight turnovers hardly felt super. The sloppy Cowboys committed 12 penalties, two turnovers and allowed Roger Staubach to be sacked five times – and still won in a blowout. By far Dallas’ worst-played championship.
3. XXX 1995 Cowboys 27, Steelers 17 – Finally, the Cowboys exacted revenge from the hated rival that twice beat them in ’70s’ Super Bowls. That in itself made this one memorable. But, honestly, the sensation was a tad dulled by Barry Switzer’s coaching, Larry Brown’s MVP and a hint that the dynasty was coming to an end. In retrospect, we should’ve enjoyed this one more at the time.
2. XXVII 1992 Cowboys 52, Bills 17 – A 15-year wait for another title was worth it as Garth Brooks and Michael Jackson performed at the Rose Bowl. Troy Aikman threw five touchdown passes and only Leon Lett’s premature celebration prevented Dallas for setting a Super Bowl-record for most points scored.
1. VI 1971 Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3 – There’s always a special place in your heart for your first love, and Super Bowl. Devastating title-game losses to the Packers were finally erased by a dominating defense and Bob Lilly’s epic 29-yard sack of Bob Griese. “Next Year's Champions” no more. The feeling was 70 percent joy, 30 percent relief and 100 percent wonderful.
*It’s a shot I’ll never tire of seeing. But also one I’m ready not to see again for a long time. It’s Luka Doncic’s step-back 3-pointer. We all remember his exhilarating buzzer-beater that shocked the Clippers in Game 4 last Summer. It will live as one of the most iconic shots in franchise history. Still have goosebumps.
But – I’m only half-kidding – has Luka made one since?
I’m sure you can scour the internet and find stats for step-back 3-pointers, but I estimate this from my eyeball test: He makes about 1 in 4. Over the last 10 games, Luka is 17 of 61 from beyond the arc (most of those step-backs). That’s 27 percent. Only once in those 10 games has he made more than 40 percent.
Bottom line: It’s just not a good shot.
Given his almost unprecedented skillset, it should be last resort more than habitual option. For a guy who can navigate his way into the lane and to the rim at will – and who has improved his free-throw shooting to above 78 percent – settling for step-back bombs is a losing strategy.
It’s the kind of stubborn shot that will dent his MVP hopes, and maybe the Mavs’ playoff chances.
*For years, Delino DeShields was the Texas Rangers’ centerfielder of the future. Team’s Rookie of the Year in 2015 and started 344 games through 2019. He flashed speed, range and a little pop. Until he didn’t. Traded to the Indians in December 2019, DeShields did similar teasing in Cleveland. He started both of Cleveland’s Wild-Card games last Fall, but then was not re-signed.
So now he’s back with the Rangers, where he’ll fight for a roster spot in spring training.After all that, he’s still just 28. Back to the future.
*Listened to Mark Cuban on the Suiting Up with Paul Rabil podcast this week. Worth an hour of your time. Chatting with the co-founder of the Professional Lacrosse League, Cuban touches on everything from Luka (“most people have fake humility, but his is real”) to knuckleheads (“you can have one but not two, because they’ll hang out together”) to the World Anti-Doping Agency (“they do dumb shit”).
Other highlights: Cuban recently funded a University of Michigan study on the effects of HGH (human growth hormone) in recovering from sports injuries. And he furthered his stance against the Olympics, saying the NBA needs to “extract itself” from the global event.
“It’s one of the dumbest things the NBA does,” Cuban said. “The Olympics is for profit, with a lot of grift and greed. Every four years we contribute billions for a little branding and visibility we could easily create on our own. We need to create our own World Cup, like soccer.”
Cuban also admitted that his 11-year-old son, Jake, doesn’t always know the Mavericks are playing until he finds out … on TikTok.
*In regularly providing and analyzing sports radio ratings, I’m probably guilty of not pointing out how fortunate we are in DFW to have two dynamic and distinct options: Hard-core sports with unique insight on The Fan; Guy talk accessorized by sports and giggles on The Ticket. Both work. And, unlike politics, it doesn’t have to be tribal. You can – and should, actually – like both.
Both stations’ afternoon shows were recognized this week in the prestigious Barrett Sports Media’s Top 20. The Fan’s G-Bag Nation came in at No. 5, followed closely by The Ticket’s Hardline at No. 7. Happy listening!
*Dallas is America’s second-best football city. At least, that is, according to something called WalletHub.The site ranked cities according to teams, stadiums and fan engagement and decided that Dallas was the No. 3 city for NFL and 237th for college football, good for second place overall.
Only city more invested in football? Pittsburgh.
*In the 22 seasons the Mavs made the playoffs, they were never below .500 this late into the schedule. They’re 9-14 heading into the first weekend of February off a demoralizing loss to the Warriors in which they were outscored in the second half, 73-40. Heart says it’s still early. History says it’s already too late.
*Troy Aikman as a NFL GM? Despite zero experience, I can name one current decision-maker he’d be better than right now.
Right, Jerry Jones?
*Almost 200 people have been arrested for their involvement in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Among them: Dallas piece of work Troy Anthony Smocks. A Texas judge has ruled to keep Smocks in jail until his trial because, in part, he wore a full military dress uniform complete with medals he didn’t earn. Because, well, he never served. That’s right, stolen valor.
Remember that the next time someone characterizes the insurrectionists as “proud patriots.”
*If there was any doubt that COVID would spill deep into 2021, Dallas has already canceled its annual St. Patrick’s Day/Greenville Avenue Parade scheduled for mid-March. That’s two years in a row without the biggest, funnest, drinkiest day in Dallas. Something tells me the 2022 version is going to be epic.
At some point, abstinence has to abstain.
*Boasting the best ever (Tom Brady) vs. the best current (Patrick Mahomes), Super Bowl LV will at least be interesting. But with only 14,500 fans, no parties and – for the first time in 37 years – no commercials from Budweiser or Coca-Cola, it just won’t feel the same.
Special? Maybe. Super? Nope.
*Good news for you non-vampires: Official DFW sunset climbed to 6 p.m. this week. The next time it will get dark before 6? Nov. 7. We’re headed in the right direction, where the sun is stronger and our days are longer.
*While Jones has turned his $140 million investment in the Cowboys into an asset worth $5.5 billion, Cuban has done okay as well.
In 2000, he bought the Mavs for $285 million. Today they are worth $2.4 billion. The owners, in case you haven’t noticed, go about things a little differently. While Jerry is accused by former players of coveting branding over winning, Cuban said on Rabil’s podcast that he would lock shut the AAC and forsake every penny of profit in exchange for another championship.
“Win tonight, f*ck everything else,” he said. “If I can win another championship with nobody coming through the door and no revenue, let’s do it.”
*I’ve played some form of the “lottery” probably 100 times. Tickets here. Scratch-offs there. My grand total winnings is likely less than $20. I suck at luck. Which really irks me to hear that a dude in Idaho has won big prizes six times.
*Once upon a time, the Mavericks practiced in a modest, one-court gym tucked inside a warehouse district on Welch Road in Addison. It was built for employees of Home Furnishings, the company owned by Mavs’ founding father Don Carter. When Ross Perot Jr. bought the team in the mid-’90s, he moved the practices to the Baylor Hospital facilities near Deep Ellum.
That’s the site where Jim Cleamons floundered, Dirk Nowitzki debuted and … the Cowboys eventually took over.
Now that the Mavs practice in an expansive (warehouse-like) building across the highway from the American Airlines Center, Cowboy Fit, which has locations in Frisco, Dallas and Plano, is turning the old 45,000-square-foot Baylor basketball facility into its next $3 million, shining-Star fitness center.
*If your Dallas-centric company lost 25 percent of its business due to COVID, the city might lend a lucrative helping hand. Dallas has $2.7 million to give to small businesses, and its Small Business Continuity Fund is doing so via $15,000 grants. Apply here before Feb. 10.
*A “distressed individual” on Tuesday jumped from an overpass at Haskell Avenue near Uptown onto Central Expressway and into morning rush-hour traffic and … lived?
*Since necessity is the mother of all invention, I’m surprised no one has created a transparent COVID mask. Or maybe we all kinda like hiding our expressions?
*Chiefs 31, Buccaneers 27. I’ve seen reports of $2.3 and $3.4 million bet on Tampa Bay +3.5. My condolences. Shoulda bought GameStop stock instead.
*This Weekend? Saturday a little tennis at Canyon Creek Country Club. Sunday – given no Super Bowl parties – just a routine trip to visit mom and dad in JoCoMoFo. As always, don’t be a stranger.