DALLAS - Boban Marjanovic is blessed with the skills to be a professional basketball player ... and very close to being blessed with the skills to be a professional comedian.
“We,'' the Dallas Mavericks' 7-4 backup center says of his relationship with teammate Luka Doncic, “are like 'Dumb and Dumber.''
And then, with ideal timing and a master's understanding of the art of the "layered joke,'' Boban adds, "You guys can guess who's who.''
Marjanovic is of course dumb like a fox, his convivial jabs at himself and his teammates a key part of the Mavs' locker-room fabric.
It also so happens that the Serbian giant can play, as he has for half-a-decade, with five different NBA clubs. We made the argument in the playoffs that year that Dallas didn't need to rely on "emergency ideas'' for a backup center, that in limited minutes, Boban is more that capable. Not that he would mirror what he did in that final regular-season game on March 11, 2020, when Marjanovic scored a career-high 31 points, along with 17 rebounds, in a 113–97 win over Denver, before COVID forced the suspension.
But in his 13 minutes per playoff game, he gave Dallas about six points and six rebounds per. That works just fine as he'll start this NBA season (Wednesday night at Phoenix and then Christmas night at the Lakers) playing behind bigs Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Willie Cauley-Stein. And he'll be deeper on the bench in a few weeks with Kristaps Porzingis is ready.
But Boban will be ready, too - on the floor and more.
“Our bigs are going to have to be ready for anything,'' coach Rick Carlisle says. "Bobi was always ready last year. We played him more situationally. He’s just going to have to be ready.''
That could mean that while Luka is at the very front of the line - not only in Dallas' rotation but maybe even in MVP voting - Boban is at the back.
Boban says his "Dumb and Dumber'' movie reference "is a joke on the side'' between him and Doncic. "We have so much fun together.”
But the rest of us get the joke, too, as does most every NBA watcher, as Boban's personality has been a notable joy in all of this stops. However, we also get the serious side of all this - when the ball goes up on game night.
“I’m excited for every unit,” said Marjanovic. “Being out on the court is a blessing. You’re healthy, you have a job, you can help the team. If not helping on the court, I try to help on the bench.”
And when he's on the bench? There are surely some professional-level jokes being delivered there, too.