Whitt's End: How Michael Jordan (& The DUST Chip) Led To Mavs Title

Whitt's End: How Michael Jordan (& The DUST Chip) Led To The Dallas Mavs Title - Plus My DFW Sports Notebook
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Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 5.8.20 …

*Ah, 2010. A time when the NBA’s Hornets were the Bobcats and the GOAT was a pigeon. ESPN’s Last Dance is reminding us all what an unapproached player Michael Jordan was.

Dallas Mavericks fans are also remembering to be thankful he absolutely sucked in the front office.

After Jordan selected biggest all-time bust Kwame Brown No. 1 overall in 2001 and took DeSagana Diop’s $32 million contract off Dallas’ hands in 2009, he okayed one of the most important trades in Mavs’ history: Eduardo Najera, Matt Carroll and Erick Dampier for Tyson Chandler. 

DustChip1

In the summer of 2010, the Mavs were counting on using Dampier’s $13 million contract “chip” - "The DUST Chip,'' DallasBasketball.com famously termed it - to lure free agents like LeBron James and/or Chris Paul.

Sidebar: Why did DBcom capologist David Lord, who discovered the concept, call it “The DUST Chip’’? D.U.S.T. Chip = “Damp Ultimate Sign-And-Trade’’ Chip. After July 10, 2010, we unearthed the fact that a team could trade for Dampier (and give Dallas the ability to trade-match a salary up to $16.4475 million) ... and then that team could immediately release Dampier. They get the payroll, cap and perhaps the lux-tax relief without ever having to spend a dime for a contract that is on the books at $13 million.)

The plan backfired, until Jordan stepped in with an emergency option that helped them win their only championship.

DBcom wrote on the morning of that trade that Dallas was "trying to use The DUST Chip to hit a home run but maybe Chandler will end up being like hitting a double.''

In fact, in the end, a home run it was. Thanks, MJ.

*Anyone that dares to predict an NFL team’s record multiple months before the first snap of training camp and only hours after the release of their schedule is a short-sighted, ignorant fool. Guilty as charged, I got the Dallas Cowboys going 9-7.

9.13 Cowboys 30, at Rams 27 – Former L.A. kicker Greg Zuerlein administers another chink in Sean McVay’s armor with a game-winning, 59-yard field goal at the gun.

9.20 Falcons 38, at Cowboys 31 – Without Robert Quinn, Dallas’ punchless pass rush gives Matt Ryan and Julio Jones more than enough time.

9.27 at Seahawks 28, Cowboys 16 – After Amari Cooper mysteriously sits out game’s final three series, Jerry Jones is peppered with “Where’s Dez?” questions during post-game press conference.

10.4 Browns 35, at Cowboys 27 – Byron Jones was no ball hawk, but the Cowboys did nothing to replace him and it’ll show against Odell Beckham and his posse of talented receivers.

10.11 at Cowboys 33, Giants 24 – The return of Jason Garrett and Cooper Rush equal … nothing, actually.

10.19 at Cowboys 48, Cardinals 35 – CeeDee Lamb shows off against former Sooner teammate Kyler Murray.

10.25 Cowboys 37, Redskins 14 – Adding insult to injury, Jerry Jones taunts Dan Snyder by holding a post-game yacht party on the Potomac River.

11.1 Cowboys 27, at Eagles 21 – As expected, Carson Wentz is already hurt and already replaced by Jalen Hurts.

11.8 at Cowboys 28, Steelers 17 – These days overweight, hairy Ben Roethlisberger more resembles Sasquatch than an NFL quarterback.

11.22 at Vikings 27, Cowboys 23 – Minnesota continues humiliating ground-game bludgeoning on Dallas’ defense that it began in Arlington in 2019.

11.26 at Cowboys 34, Redskins 14 – Once upon a time Ron Rivera almost coached the Cowboys. Now he coaches a team that never beats them anymore. Especially on Thanksgiving.

12.3 at Ravens 41, Cowboys 24 – Jaylon Smith swipes right on Lamar Jackson, but rarely tackles him.

12.13 Cowboys 31, at Bengals 30 – Dak Prescott finally gets injured. Andy Dalton returns to Cincy to lead the dramatic comeback. NFL has predictable, yet fantastic, script writers.

12.20 at Cowboys 27, 49ers 20 – Dak ain’t elite. But he’s better than Jimmy Garoppolo.

12.27 Eagles 27, vs. Cowboys 24 – In a tribute to departed icon Jason Witten’s signature play, Mike McCarthy coaches entire third quarter without a headset.

1.3 at Giants 23, Cowboys 20 – The “Feed Zeke” MVP campaign and Dallas’ playoff chances are flushed as Ezekiel Elliott misses the finale because of food poisoning from a rancid New York strip.

Get more analysis on the Cowboys schedule at CowboysSI.com.

*Can’t condone what Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther did. And by no means will I consider her an “American hero.” (Aside: We have totally lost our way on the definition of “hero.”) By keeping her business open, she willingly defied CDC recommendations, governor suggestions and a court orders to put the lives of countless DFW residents at risk. For her actions, she was fined $3,500 and jailed for seven days.

Until she wasn’t. When released Thursday from Dallas County Jail after just more than 24 hours in lockup, she was greeted to a welcome fit for Nelson Mandela. But if she can put aside the guilt (wink) of possibly infecting her staff and clients with a potentially fatal virus, it will likely be worth it. Why? Because a GoFundMe in her name has generated $500,000 in donations. Half-a-million!

That would buy, oh I dunno, a lot of PPE for healthcare workers.

*Day 58 without sports … Speaking of last week’s The Last Dance, I ran into Prince at that 1998 NBA All-Star Game. No, I literally ran into him. For some reason, His Purpleness was in the media room in the bowels of Madison Square Garden and we were exiting/entering the doorway at precisely the same time.

As a long-time fan, I froze and embarrassing uttered “I love you.”

Prince’s response? He snapped his fingers. Swooshed past me with nary a word. Perfect.

*If I built a brewery and made my own beer, I’d call it “Cold.” Bartender: “What’ll you have?” Everyone: “Gimme a Cold beer.”

*Texas Rangers’ slugger Joey Gallo took some batting practice inside Globe Life Field this week and came away a tad intimidated by the vast space, especially the 410 feet to straightaway center field. Said Gallo, who consistently launches bombs over 430 feet, “It is playing big as Hell. Definitely going to be a pitcher’s park.” Can’t wait to see if he’s right. The latest, by the way, is a Major League Baseball “Opening Day” in July.

*While government leaders continue to tout America’s “amazing” testing of COVID-19, Mavs owner Mark Cuban says there are no immediate plans to open the team’s practice facility because of a lack of, yep, testing.

“The problem obviously is that because we can’t test people,” Cuban said this week on a podcast with Mark Followill. “We can’t assure anybody’s safety, whether they’re basketball players or anybody else.”

*Day 59 without sports … The Blue Angels’ DFW flyover Wednesday morning might have been a warm-’n-fuzzy photo op, but for some area frontline health workers it was misguided.

My long-time friend, who for five-plus years has been a respiratory therapist and adult critical care/trauma specialist at Dallas’ UT-Southwestern Clements University Medical Center near Parkland Hospital, has been called to emergency COVID-19 duty during the crisis. Her response to the flyover?

"Oh yeah, all this “hero” stuff. Blue Angels and white ribbons around trees. We just want more PPE so we don’t get sick. That’s all. Save the recognition, just provide us with equipment that lets us safely do our jobs. At Baylor this week they are reusing dirty gowns and masks, and nurses are taking care of positive patients and negative patients on the same floor. That’s the grim reality we’re still dealing with.''

The irony was thick as folks oohed and aahed at the flyovers honoring healthcare professionals, all the while ignoring their recommendations to not gather, to stay home and to wear masks.

*Title Nein. The U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team seeking “equality” was slapped down in court this week when a judge ruled that, in fact, the women’s team was paid more “cumulatively and on a per-game basis” than the men’s team. The team claimed it for years had been systematically mistreated and underpaid by the governing body of U.S. Soccer. At one point, the organization offered to settle out of court for $67 million. Seeking more publicity and even more money, the women took their chances in court.

And lost. Big time.

I wholly support the #MeToo movement and equality in sports. Equality. Not inequality. As in, how can female players that golf from shorter tees, play quicker tennis matches and shoot behind a closer 3-point line truly believe that’s anything remotely “equal”?

*Day 60 without sports … Imagine if baseball returns under stricter sanitary sanctions such as: “No spitting.” The sport would flatline.

*Wait, Wendy’s is out of what? Life comes at you, well, sorta slowly actually. But eventually it will boomerang. Right, Clara Peller?

*Emmitt Smith’s NFL rushing record remains safe after 17 years, even though there are a couple of backs holding out hope. Smith broke Walter Payton’s previous mark on Oct. 27, 2002, then padded his number to 18,355 until retiring at age 35. His gap remains more than 3,000 yards, though after this season it may dip below 2,000.

That’s because Frank Gore (who will be 37 next week) signed to play another year with the Jets and Adrian Peterson (35) will again be a featured back for the Redskins.

Gore, third on the list and trailing Emmitt by 3,008 yards, is unlikely to catch him. On his fourth team in four years, his carries and yards have declined for four straight years (only 599 yards in Buffalo last season) and in 2020 he’ll merely get Le’Veon Bell’s sloppy seconds. At his pace and role, Gore would have to play well into his 40s to seriously threaten Smith. Peterson’s chances are more realistic, as he’s started 31 games and ran for almost 2,000 yards the last two seasons in Washington. Still, he trails Emmitt by 4,139 yards and would have to put together at least four more productive seasons – by which time he’ll be 39 – to flirt with the record.

If those two don’t catch Smith, his record will be safe for … who knows? Of the Top 75 all-time leading NFL rushers, only five – Peterson, Gore, Mark Ingram (30), Marshawn Lynch (34) and LeSean McCoy (32) – are active and none younger than 30.

*An American born in 1900 endured World War I, The Spanish Flu pandemic, The Great Depression, World War II and Vietnam. But, sure, please go on about how your “liberties” are being oppressed because you were told to stay home for seven weeks.

*Day 61 without sports … Since we can track registered sex offenders in our neighborhood and map our cars down to the city pothole with Waze, can’t we develop a “contact tracing” app for COVID-19 patients? George Orwell predicted it. Apple, Google and Mark Zuckerberg should prove him right.

*Like the rest of us, Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t thrilled at the Mavs not keeping Steve Nash in 2004 and breaking up the band in 2011.

*Hot.

*Not.

*We’re all giddy about Lamb and Dalton. But without replacing – much less upgrading – Travis Frederick, Robert Quinn and Byron Jones, are the Cowboys really significantly better than last season?

*The Blue Angels flew over DFW at around 500 mph. They max out at 700, remaining just under the speed of sound (761). Anyone else remember, as kids, hearing a Sonic Boom?

*Day 62 without sports … Another COVID-19 casualty: Reunion Tower’s restaurant. Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty, the rotating eatery since 2009, will not reopen.

*You can only make a punchline of former Cowboy Darren McFadden passing out drunk in a Whataburger drive-thru if you haven’t been in that same predicament. So …

*Even with all this extra shelter-in-place downtime, I still can’t begin to explain how boats float, how hot and cold air crashing together creates thunder, how wheels rotating forward appear to be spinning backward or how Thursday night’s full moon close to the horizon looked soooo much bigger than when it rose up in the sky. But that’s OK, people smarter than are me are also puzzled.

*Day 63 without sports … Game of Thrones fans won’t be surprised, but Hafþór Björnsson, “Mountain,” set a world record last week by deadlifting 1,104.5 pounds.

*While the Rangers are apparently not offering refunds – only credits – for missed games this season, they are also being affected by COVID-19. Next week they’ll begin pay reductions affecting about half the front-office staff.

*Bittersweet week for local journalism. Days after the Palestine Herald-Press won a Pulitzer Prize for a story about deaths in its local jail, the 171-year-old paper announced it was being forced to cut its production from daily to three days a week.

*Day 64 without sports … Eff it, I’m staying indoors. Why? Murder. Hornets. See y’all in 2021!

*This is where draft geeks with their measurables and general managers with their stopwatches overthink things and screw up. Final years at Ohio State:

Ezekiel Elliott 289 carries, 1,821 yards, 23 touchdowns

J.K. Dobbins 301 carries, 2,003 yards, 23 touchdowns

Elliott was drafted No. 4 in 2016; Dobbins No. 55 in 2020

*No Exotic. We just watched a Tiger King documentary – complete with authentic interviews, real video footage and eyewitness storytelling. How is a TV series (starring Nicolas Cage as Joe) supposed to be different, much less better?

Answer: It won’t be.

*Day 65 without sports … Cinco de Mayo fell on a Taco Tuesday while we were dodging a virus whose quasi-namesake is a Mexican beer.

*When college football comes back, will the fans? Better question: Where were they going in the first place? College football attendance dipped to a 24-year low in 2019. Hard to believe it won’t decrease again in 2020 considering you-know-what.

*What happened when 50 got hungry? 58.

*This Weekend? Sunday social-distancing visit with Mom, whom I haven’t seen since February. As always, don’t be a stranger.