The Siren's Call: Laying the Groundwork for an Epic Mavs vs. Kings Rivalry
DALLAS - Two very different moods stretched out among the occupants of two very different locker rooms on Sunday evening. In the American Airlines Center visitors' locker room where the ceiling water drip sounds like something akin to a medieval-dungeon torture scene, players joked when the media was granted postgame access and appeared in the already cramped space.
Bustling PR reps and laughing players paused momentarily.
"Oh, you want (Marvin) Bagley."
The joke was obvious and there for the taking. Bagley, who had been questionable before tipoff, had sat out during the Sacramento Kings 110-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks, much to the dismay of fans.
"BAGLEY!" a voice rang out in jest. Smooth laughter followed.
Down the long corridor, a shadow fell over the florescent blue/purple hue that buzzed through the Mavericks' spacious locker room. Luka Doncic, who was just named Sports Illustrated's Breakout Star of 2019, was sitting in front of his locker with a furrowed brow as he spoke to the engulfing media.
Despite the loss, sophomore Doncic joined some very elite company that evening. He surpassed Michael Jordan for most consecutive games with 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists. In what should have been a momentous celebration, the 20-year old wasn't having any of it.
Sunday night was a tale of two very different teams who will forever be connected by the thread-thin invisible cord that reaches all the way back to a June night in 2018. A night where the name "Bagley"- shower acoustics aside - echoed out before the name "Doncic" Since that NBA Draft night, Kings fans have cursed the ground Luka devotees grace and watch in horror as the wunderkind rarity breaks barrier after barrier. During almost every scanty loss to a struggling team (cough, Knicks, cough), the Mavericks and their fanbase seem to treat other teams attempting to nip at their heels in a mocking fashion as a living, breathing Mad Men meme:
Except for one.
In the four times the Mavericks and the Kings have faced off since the 2018 NBA Draft, the Kings have bested Dallas and on Sunday night, they did it without Bagley and De'Aaron Fox and in front of a sold-out arena with every person donning those blinking green-blue lights screaming "MVP!" at Luka whenever he touched the ball.
With every "LOL, you passed up on this generation's LeBron James!" tweet that's thrown at them, the Kings seem to feed a particular hunger, a hunger that vanishes whenever they play other teams (especially teams they should be beating).
The Mavericks nearly had the game within their grasp after making a thrilling 24-point comeback, though with 7.7 seconds left in the game, Doncic was livid after not receiving a call on a shot that would have put him in a position to head to the free-throw line and tie the game. But that didn't happen, and the Mavs five-game win streak was snapped.
The Kings had just come off a devastating 105-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs and fans were looking to have their souls shattered yet again when going into Dallas to face off against the red-hot Mavs. Only that didn't happen, and Mavs fans were left bewildered and bitter against this so-called "lowly" team.
The team that said "Oh, no thanks" to Luka Doncic. The team fond of saying of Bagley, "I think we got the best player,”
The team that Kings fans hope is now taking up space in the heads of the Mavericks.
Could this potentially turn into one of those old fashion Dallas/Sacramento rivalries that flared-up slightly during the early 2000s? You know, the rivalry that was overshadowed by the Lakers/Kings/gambling refs rivalry?
With as much talk that appears so bombastic on Twitter, it's extremely possible and will be both franchises will be tested with the return of Bagley and Fox in the near future. The two teams face off again in January, only this time in Sacramento, and Mavericks will be looking for revenge - which means they won't likely let their guard down in front of the Kings crowd.
The groundwork is being laid for the next pugnacious NBA rivalry between these two teams, and we're all looking forward to seeing it play out within the next decade. ... leaving one team laughing and another team livid.