Whitt's End: Luka's Mavs Help - Headliner Hardaway & Wild-Card Willie

Whitt's End: Luka's Dallas Mavs Help - Headliner Hardaway & Wild-Card Willie
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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 1.8.21 …

*38 points. 13 assists. 9 rebounds. 4 steals. In 5,260 feet of elevation. I’d say Luka Doncic is in decent shape after all.

READ MORE: 'Mile High' Feeling: Doncic, Mavs Take Down Nuggets in OT

*Through a couple weeks, Luka is Luka. Soon Kristaps Porzingis will – fingers crossed – return to being Kristaps Porzingis. But what really excites me about the Dallas Mavericks’ 2021 potential is Willie Cauley-Stein. He’s a 7-footer with a seemingly 20-foot wingspan. He can block shots. He’ll protect the rim. Take a hard, necessary foul. He might make a 3-pointer.

READ MORE: Mavs' Cauley-Stein: 'Carlisle Made Me Fall In Love With The Work

He even, at times, bothered the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic Thursday night. He’s the closest thing the Mavs have had to Tyson Chandler since, well, Tyson Chandler.

He possesses the best of Dwight Powell and the worst (best) of DeAndre Jordan. Evidenced in the waning moments in Houston this week, he’s got that “mean streak” that allows him to grab an offensive rebound near the free-throw line, take one dribble and dunk. No thought. No plan. No ball through hoop, with an exclamation point.

On a Mavs’ team that for years has finessed its way from A-to-Z, Cauley-Stein is a raw, straight-line injection of energy.

I’m not saying he’s the missing piece. But he’s a potential solution I’m yearning to see more of.

*Wait, how is Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Mike Nolan not yet fired? Somehow allowing franchise records of 57 touchdowns and 473 points wasn’t conclusive evidence of his inferior acumen? Cowboys have played 61 football seasons and never had a worse defense.

Head coach Mike McCarthy on Friday - almost a week after the conclusion of a 6-10 season - says Nolan's status is still being evaluated.

But you can’t react to the facts with merely a shrug. You just can’t.

*I’m old enough to remember rotary wall phones with 20-foot cords, dialing a seven-digit number sans area code and picking up grandma’s receiver only to hear an ongoing conversation and remember “Oops, party line.”

I had a 214 area code growing up. Then came 972 and, ohhkay I guess. I’m still very skeptical of those new-fangled 469 folks. And now – as of Thursday – there are people in DFW being given numbers led by the new area code: 945.

Legit afraid to call anyone possessing those digits.

*If you’ve ever rooted for the good team to finally grab greatness, you’re pulling for my alma mater Saturday afternoon. Over the last three seasons, Duncanville High School’s football team is 39-3. In 2018, they lost the Class 6A state championship game on a 50-yard Hail Mary on the game’s final play. In 2019, their star quarterback suffered a torn ACL and couldn’t play in the title game loss. Oh-for-two, the Panthers are back knocking at the door in 2020.

They play Southlake Carroll in the semifinals, looking for a three-peat trip to the title game. Thoughts and prayers?

*Cowboys pick No. 10 in the draft. Let’s stop all the foreplay right now and lock in on Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. Dude will be a star. Mark my words.

READ MORE: Dallas Cowboys NFL Mock Draft Tracker: Surtain at No. 10

And I’m not just saying that because we suffered through a season watching Rashard Robinson and Daryl Worley chase ghosts in the Cowboys’ secondary.

*I’m not suggesting the Capitol Police were derelict in duty in response to the rioters storming D.C. this week. I just remember Dallas Police shutting down a Black Lives Matter protest on Margaret Hunt Hill bridge last June and arresting 674 people in like 12 minutes. White woman who trespassed and vandalized federal property got her hand held while walking down the steps. Black man named George Floyd who was selling cigarettes on the corner got a lethal knee on his neck.

*Larry Brown? Barry Switzer? Neil O’Donnell? The Macarena? There’s an entire generation of Dallas Cowboys fans likely foggy, being that those all enjoyed their peak success the last time their team won a Super Bowl.

Since Brown was named MVP of Super Bowl XXX, O’Donnell gifted two interceptions, Switzer proclaimed “We did it our way, baby!” and we all did handsy versions of the Bayside Boys’ annoying hit song, the Cowboys have been one of the worst teams in the NFL.

Last weekend’s finale flop at the Giants capped a quarter-century of abject failure. In the last 25 seasons the Cowboys have won only 52 percent of their games, trotted out 24 starting quarterbacks, endured seven head coaches and, of course, never sniffed a Super Bowl. You’d think if your business colossally underperformed for 25 consecutive years you’d – at some point – drastically tweak your operation.

You are not, however, Jerry Jones.

Since winning their last Super Bowl in the 1995 season, the Cowboys have won more playoff games (4) than only seven teams – Bears and Dolphins (3), Washington (2), Bills, Browns, Bengals and Lions (0). They’ve won fewer than the Jets, the Jaguars and are tied with the Texans, a franchise that wasn’t even hatched until 2002. The torturous truth:

33 – Patriots

18 – Packers

17 – Steelers

15 – Ravens

14 – Broncos Eagles Seahawks

13 – Colts

11 – 49ers

10 – Giants

9 – Saints Panthers

8 – Falcons Vikings Titans Rams

7 – Jets Jaguars

6 – Cardinals

5 – Buccaneers Chiefs Chargers

4 – Cowboys Raiders Texans

3 – Bears Dolphins

2 – Washington

0 – Bills Browns Bengals Lions

Jerry likes to say that "if you work for yourself, you can't fire yourself.'' But isn't that just what John Elway did in Denver? Hall-of-Famer Elway is as iconic in Colorado as Hall-of-Famer Jones is in Texas. But the Broncos boss, realizing that he's overseeing the first team in NFL history to go to the Super Bowl one year and then fail to make the playoffs for the next five years straight, basically "bumped himself upstairs'' in the Broncos organization and is now overseeing the hiring of the GM who will replace him.

If Elway can do it ... why can't Jerry Jones? If the Broncos think five years is too long, how can the Cowboys not think 25 years is too long?

*Supposed to be all positive and forward-looking and “new” in 2021, but if you dare to remember the lowlights of the Cowboys’ 2020 grab a barf bag and … here.

*Hot.

*Not.

*Couple eye-popping Cowboys’ stats from the final autopsy: How many offensive holding penalties you think they were flagged for? Yeah, me too. I was thinking at least one per game, so … like 18ish? Nope. Nine. NINE! Well below the league average of 14. More confounding, head coach Mike McCarthy tried more fake punts (3) than he threw challenge flags (2).

*Sad news this week re: the passing of radio icon Tom Bigby. Gruff? You betcha. Irrationally demanding? Dang skippy. Creative genius? Yep, above all else. Bigby hired me full-time at 105.3 The Fan in 2009, pairing me first with Newy Scruggs and later Greg Williams. Think of him as the Don Meredith of The Fan, the star who put the fledgling franchise station on the map before it got really good.

*Why is it Froot Loops instead of Fruit Loops?

*In his first game off the Mavs’ bench, Tim Hardaway Jr. produced an uncanny performance: 30 points on 14 shots.

Happened only four times before in team history and I almost guarantee you can’t name the quartet: Adrian Dantley, Chris Gatling, Nick Van Exel and Austin Croshere.

I would say that’s an impressive group to be included in, but it’s really more eclectic than excellence.

That's not to say Tim hasn't been excellent; his unselfishness here is notable enough.

*Think I’ll call my bank and demand it “finds” me $11,800. I’ll pretend not to listen when it shows proof of three calculations of my correct balance, and instead I’ll rant and blame conspiracy theories and promise grave consequences if the obvious errors aren’t fixed. What? Strategy was good enough for our political leaders.

*Got a chuckle out of Sam Ehlinger announcing he was leaving Texas to enter the NFL Draft, in part, because “I’ve accomplished all I can here.”

READ MORE: Texas QB Sam Ehlinger Declares For NFL Draft

Really? The Longhorns’ quarterback went 1-4 against Oklahoma, never played for a Big 12 Championship and won only one significant bowl game (2019 Sugar over Georgia). Ehlinger is a tough runner and … beyond that, let’s face it, not cut out to be a star in the NFL. Arm not strong enough, much less accurate enough. He’s a really poor man’s Tim Tebow who will bump his ceiling at Taysom Hill.

*Something good came out of 2020: Those “Spam Risk” alerts on cell-phone calls.

*Cowboys coulda, shoulda, woulda, didn’t. You get swept by a mediocre Washington Football Team by a combined score of 66-19 and that’s it. Your season was embarrassingly unsuccessful.

*Wednesday’s riots in the Capitol is precisely why I don’t always “stick to sports.” Words matter. Lies should be exposed. Conspiracy theories debunked. Attacks on media rebuked. More than anything else in 2021, I look forward to the return of the American pillars of facts and truth.

*I remember first hearing about Bitcoin around 2010. I didn’t – and still don’t – understand the cryptocurrency, but I remember rolling my eyes at something worth only eight cents. Today they are worth $28,000 each, with a total market evaluation worth more than Visa and Walmart. Panthers’ offensive lineman Russell Okung, in fact, asked for part of his new contract ($6.5 million) to be paid in Bitcoin.

*The Chargers surveyed the Cowboys’ 6-10 train wreck, pondered last season’s 8-8 and decided, “Yeah, we’ll give Jason Garrett a shot.” He interviews on Friday afternoon. Fish explains why here ...

READ MORE: Inside Jason Garrett's Job: Do Giants Or Chargers Really Want Him?

*Speaking of financial feebleness, interest rates have made it much more difficult to “live off the interest.” That was always a thing my friends would dream of. “I’ll just make $100,000 and then live off the interest.” Well, actually, in the 1980s that was doable. Interest rates for a 12-month CD were 20.00 percent, meaning you invested $100,000 and didn’t touch it for a year, you earned $20,000. Today, highest CD rates are around 00.75 percent, meaning that same $100,000 after 12 months will earn you … a whopping $750.

*When in doubt, take the points. Even in a season in which home-field advantages were negated and upsets became usual, point-spread underdogs went 142-114.

*Bummed that ol’ pal Darren Woodson didn’t make the cut to be a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist in 2021. But, if we’re being honest, tough to be mad when you’re not even the best defensive back named Woodson among the candidates.

Darren is the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler and owner of three Super Bowl rings, but Charles – who starred with the Packers and Raiders – won a ring, made nine Pro Bowls, was Defensive Player of the Year and twice led the league in interceptions.

*Saw – well, streamed – Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas Day and I don’t want to spoil it, but it sucks.

I’m not a big superhero movie fan, but the original Wonder Woman in 2017 was fantastic. But in this offering the CGI is so bad – or maybe good? – that it looks tremendously fake. The plot centers on some nonsensical “Dream Stone” that can grant wishes. I’m supposed to believe Kristen Wiig as a sexpot. And I don’t think “1984” has any relevance at all. Just some random year? Good for quarantainment, but not much else.

*Included in Andy Dalton’s audibles this season were “Heineken”, “Dos Equis” and “Bahamas.” All, I must say, more desirable than “Omaha” or, for that matter, “Kill Kill! KILL!!”

*This Weekend? Saturday morning gotta start getting my COVID-cratered cardio back in shape for upcoming tennis season. Saturday afternoon let’s go watch Duncanville-Southlake Carroll. Sunday is for NFL playoffs. As always, don’t be a stranger.