Most of the music that sounds off like a foghorn in the American Airlines Center when the Dallas Mavericks are on the court hasn’t shifted much in the past few years. For whatever weird reason, fans can hear Hall and Oates’ “Maneater” echo off the bricks when the Mavs switch to offense (unless it’s during a fast break) which makes about as much sense to me as playing Sublime’s “Wrong Way” at your daughter’s christening.
Is another song they tend to play, David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel,” any better? It’s confusing if you’re paying attention to the lyrics, but the beat seems to match the tempo unfolding on the floor ... Sure, let’s go with that.
The music through the Dirk Nowitzki Era seemed to transition nicely into the first regular-season game of the Luka Doncic Era (his sophomore year is depressingly void of the Big German sans his One-Legged Euro Fadeaway shadow gracing the court).
As fans got up at halftime during the Mavericks’ 108-100 win over the Washington Wizards, apropos to the current setting, a very different song sounded. It was the tiniest of details in a night where Doncic stepped vigorously into the first regular game of his sophomore season, one where he led the team with 34 points and nine rebounds on 12-of-19 shooting by the final buzzer. But it fit. It fit the man-child who it would now be attached to in a bizarre yet esurient manner from a city’s weeping angle of fandom, a city that mourned the game without Nowitzki, yet went stark raving mad after watching the Wizards slink back whenever the wunderkind pulled out his step-back.
Animotion’s 1984 song “Obsession” must have flown right over the heads of fans as it sounded, blissfully unaware of the pivoted irony the song’s title projected into an already live-wire building. Unless you happened to be a fan of old synthpop or managed to catch Starz’s limited drama series Flesh and Bone (which featured a chilling cover of the song by Karen O as its opening theme) you wouldn’t know the song. The piece just … fit.
(Just ignore most of the lyrics because they sound as if they were written by a deluded dude named Humbert Humbert.)
The obsession with Doncic seemed to overflow from the crowd at his feet when he went toe-to-toe with Bradley Beal in the fourth quarter as the latter baited Luka, which ended in an exchange of words that head coach Rick Carlisle later referred to as “a personal battle” on the hardwood.
“This is what great players do,” Carlisle expressed about the Doncic-.vs.-Beal steam. “There’s a small group of great players in the NBA and you saw two of them tonight.”
Beal, who ended the night with 19 points and nine assists, seemed agitated that Dallas’ newest infatuation was shooting like a veteran, not like a person fresh out of his teens who was supposed to be wading through some projected sophomore slump. Every time the two drew words, the crowd fell even more in love. And when a particular exchange lead to double technical fouls with almost a minute left in the game, the crowd was spellbound. Beal was ejected after waving off the foul himself and when Luka took to the line to shoot his free throws, the “MVP” chill-inducing chats started.
Doncic, wearing his usual guarded expression on his apple-cheeked face as he sat in front of his locker postgame, touched base on his measuring contest with Beal:
The love for last season’s Rookie of the Year seemed to magnetize over a single summer, which appears hard to believe considering the overwhelming need for him during Dirk’s last season seemed to spill over onto the matted words of commentators questioning his prodigy-like abilities. In terms of staying power – we have to wait a hot minute or eight in order to see if he can stick the landing there. The "wait'' ends tonight with the Mavs and Luka and Kristaps Porzingis at New Orleans, and then more "wait'' continues until Sunday when we're back at the AAC for a visit from the Blazers.
Art by Tyler Upchurch
This was only one win over a fumbling team, but the win was Luka-rich, and it showed that this city is his for the taking.
The sempiternal obsession seems to go both ways when it comes to Luka and Dallas, and it will only grow with each passing day.