Whitt's End: Mavs Missing Brunson, Remembering Vince, Hoping For 'Magic'
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 6.26.20 …
*Vince Carter owns the Dallas Mavericks’ best moment in the last nine years. Vinsanity’s corner, buzzer-beating 3-pointer to stun the Spurs in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series in 2014 didn’t exactly lead to anything (Mavs lost the series in seven). But in case you haven’t noticed, it’s been a dry run at American Airlines Center since the Mavs won the title in 2011.
Second-best moment behind the retiring Vince's? Dirk Nowitzki becoming only the sixth player in NBA history to surpass 31,000 points in 2018.
"Loved, loved, loved VC," Mavs owner Mark Cuban told Dallasbasketball.com. "As a human. As a player. As a leader. And of course, his shot against the Spurs was top 10 in Mavs history. Hopefully, he will have an equally HOF career in broadcasting. He is good at that too."
*Zeke Elliott is … Magic Johnson. Our biggest hurdle in dealing with COVID-19: We don’t view it as a lethal threat. Not truly. Despite the 126,000-plus national deaths.
I’ll admit, as a sexually active 27-year-old in DFW I was scared sh*tless when Magic announced in 1991 that he tested positive for HIV. We, as a society, got tested. We used condoms. We dialed back our promiscuity. Then Magic didn’t die. Then he lived some more. Then he un-retired and returned to the NBA. Then he lived even more. Lots more. Successfully. Healthy.
AIDS, alas, is still a formidable disease but not a death sentence. Hence, plummeting condom sales. Now, with COVID-19, that Magic cycle has been exponentially accelerated. From 20 months – even 20 years – to 20 days. From Tom Hanks to Prince Charles to Kevin Durant to Doris Burke to Sean Payton to the Dallas Cowboys’ star running back, we see our idols test positive for coronavirus and then, presto, in a mere 10ish days, announce they are recovered.
“I’m feeling good,” Zeke said (above, courtesy of Twitch) only nine days after we learned he was infected. “I had only one or two days where I felt some symptoms. Even then, it wasn’t too bad. I had a cough and a little bit of shortness of breath. But now I feel good. I feel normal.”
Unless you’re unfortunate enough to have lost a loved one because of the virus, COVID-19 is something that only affects old and/or sick people. The risk, to most, doesn’t outweigh the “reward” of … not social distancing, not wearing a mask, not living in fear, etc.
As for the welfare of others? Sadly, this country – more than ever, even in a pandemic – remains aMErica.
*Cryptic nugget of the week: If you think Jerry Jones extending an olive branch – and a Ring of Honor invitation – to Jimmy Johnson would turn DFW on its ear, wait until you hear/see an equally impossible sports(ish) reunion on our horizon. Hint: They were once closer than Jimmy/Jerry, but for years have been farther apart. You heard it here first. Sorta.
*Tuesday column: “it’s unfathomable that the NFL Hall of Game against the Steelers will take place in only 44 days.” Thursday news: Cowboys-Steelers Hall of Fame Game canceled. I’ll (grudgingly) keep saying it: Too soon for sports. The Cowboys were supposed to commence training camp in Frisco on July 22. Now? Only COVID-19 knows.
*In this sudden thunderstorm of righteous reckoning that’s toppling statues and challenging names across the country, how are baseball’s Texas Rangers dodging the raindrops? Couple weeks ago, the iconic 12-foot bronze statue of the Texas Ranger was removed from the lobby of Love Field. Turns out the lawmen that originally patriotically patrolled Texas 200 years ago ultimately deteriorated into a violent group that hunted and lynched minorities. Never thought of the name “Rangers” being offensive. But, admittedly, I also didn’t know their gnarly history. And now that we’re on the topic, what about the Frisco Rough Riders? I mean, pretty sure that’s Teddy Roosevelt on their logo, right? Same guy – our 26 President – whose statue is being removed from the American Museum of Natural History.
In an 1886 speech, ol’ Teddy apparently said, “The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.” At this rate, by 2021 every sports team will be rebranded after an animal.
*If – I said if – there is a football season, high-school Friday nights will have a new TV home. A TXA 21 source tells me the station will no longer carry a game of the week or produce its popular, weekly “Friday Night Stars” show in 2020. The new TV home of high-school football in DFW will be CW 33. TXA 21 owned high-school football in this area since 2016. CW 33 has big shoes to fill.
*Movie plot: Smarmy, wholly unlikeable “trophy” hunters arrive in Africa on an upscale safari which they believe will reward them a chance to shoot an exotic elephant/giraffe/sheep, only to realize – bom Bom BOM! – they are actually the hunted. I’m still working through whether the hunters are angry hippos Hell-bent on revenge, or pissed-off PETA members armed with weaponized drones. Maybe both?
*There’s a better chance of a Saharan Desert dust plume landing in Dallas than Jets stud Jamal Adams. And that thing has to travel 5,000 miles over the Atlantic Ocean to get here. Dream: A Pro Bowl upgrade over Jeff Heath and the best playmaking, ball-hawking safety to wear a star on his helmet since Darren Woodson. Reality: Where are my goggles?
*2020, the year that has already locked us inside in quarantine and led us into the streets in protest.
*Is Dak Prescott worth $31.4 million in 2020? Of course not. But that doesn’t mean you can’t unearth/spin some impressive stats to make you think twice. Such as: Dak is the only quarterback in quarterback in NFL history to produce 90+ touchdowns passing (97) and 20+ rushing (21) in his first four seasons.
*“But you’re good-looking on the inside” is the subtle way high-school girls gave me the Heisman stiff-arm when I asked them to the prom. The Rangers’ new Globe Life Field can sympathize.
I’ve been to GLF a couple of times. Still partial to the old place, meaning Arlington Stadium. But the new joint’s outside appearance didn’t strike me as the laughingstock eyesore that baseball fans are making it out to be. After a photo was posted Wednesday fans tore into GLF, saying it looked like everything from “nursing home awning” to “livestock barn” and even “Chernobyl Sarcophagus.” Ouch. It may look a tad like a pickup bed toolbox on the outside, but inside it’s state-of-the-art gorgeous. Retractable roof. Air conditioning. Even a nod to Arlington Stadium’s old Texas scoreboard out in center field.
Above and beyond that, winning would transform the metal warts into beauty moles. People forget how Texas Stadium was originally harpooned in the 70s for having a ridiculous hole in its roof. Hang a couple banners in there and, voila, today’s GLF critics will turn a shiny shade of jealous.
*Mavs are signing point guard Trey Burke to take with them to the Orlando bubble. It didn’t make a lot of headlines, but the loss of Jalen Brunson is a killer. Without a backup he can trust, Rick Carlisle must be very careful not to over-extend Luka Doncic’s minutes.
*If you need a sad, scary reminder of what the coronavirus is capable of when people get lethargic (or defiant), watch this Channel 8 story of a Carrollton family that threw a birthday party without masks or social distancing. Result? 18 members have since tested positive, including two grandparents now both in the hospital.
*If that doesn’t do the trick, this is from my long-time friend who works in ER at a Dallas hospital: (her direct text to me Thursday night)
We have more COVID patients than when this first happened … We just sealed one unit and we are starting the process sealing off another floor just for COVID patients. We went from 20 total positives and 5 critical 7 days ago, to now 43 positives and 17 critical. They also canceled elective surgeries today just so we can have enough beds and ventilators. Masks work, but people aren’t wearing them.
*College football’s 12 Man turned into invisible men. NBA Finals played under one Disney roof. Golf, sans golf caps. Sports in 2020 is unique, bizarre and just downright weird. But the strangest sight – if they indeed follow new COVID-19 protocols – will be Major League Baseball without … spitting. Forget the Designated Hitter in both leagues or the runner placed on second base in the 10th inning or players/coaches ejected for not social distancing during umpire arguments, watching a game without endless shots of oral projectiles will be absolutely surreal.
*Wait, NBA players are going to try to manage their health inside the Disney bubble by wearing something called an Oura ring? If you just giggled at the memory of wearing a mood ring in the ’70s, I feel ya.
*The San Francisco 49ers are flying a Black Lives Matter flag at Levi’s Stadium. Chances Jerry does the same at AT&T Stadium? Zilch.
*Proof indeed that “nobody knows nuthin’” when it comes to battling coronavirus, Lifetime Fitness operates two gyms in Collin County about 10 miles apart. At the Allen location all seating and water fountains are off-limits, cordoned off by yellow caution tape. At the Plano location, both are operating as normal. And, for what it’s worth, both clubs on Monday instituted a mask requirement, only to rescind it by Wednesday.
*More casualties of the pandemic: Chuck E. Cheese, closed. Dallas country act The Dixie Chicks, rebranded – sans Confederate connotation – as simply, The Chicks.
*Seems simple. I’ve played with them hundreds of times and seen them work for years. But if someone approached me and said, “I’ll give you $1 million if you can simply explain how magnets work,” I’d have to politely slink back to my laptop and keep my day job. It’s the part where they forcefully push each away that boggles my brain.
*The sight of NASCAR drivers pushing Bubba Wallace’s car to the front of the grid this week was the best sports moment of 2020. Not a lot of choices, mind you, with no March Madness nor golf majors, etc. But nonetheless, goose bumps. But we’re such a Divided States of America that some see this noose found in Wallace’s garage as a racist, criminal taunt, while others merely see a functional garage pull-down.
*Texans are not welcome in New York. Gotta admit, that stings.
*Same folks who refuse to wear masks are the same folks who refuse to use turn signals. They aren’t even the least bit interested in minuscule inconveniences that protect others, because they can’t see past their own narcissism. If you’re anti-mask, think about why surgeons – for eons – have worn them in the operating room. It’s not for them. It’s for the potentially vulnerable person in the vicinity of their droplets.
Implores Mavs owner Mark Cuban, “I’ll say this to everyone: Wear your g*dd*amn mask. It’s not that big of an imposition.” Amen.
*This Weekend? Golf with Dad in the heat on Friday. Tennis practice in the heat on Saturday. Relaxing in the heat pool on Sunday. As always, don’t be a stranger.