WHITT’S END: 5.20.22
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …
*Stereotypes stick. Come Hell, high water, sports success or 40 dang years. Was reminded of this twice recently: In the NBA Playoffs, and in – of all places – Greece.
After the Dallas Mavericks administered that epic Game 7 shellacking of the Phoenix Suns, the TNT studio crew began talking about heading to Dallas for Western Conference Finals Games 3-4. As they did, Shaquille O’Neal donned a black cowboy hat. Because, ya know, he was going to fit in to a culture that still wears boots, ride horses and parties with six-shooters (well, unfortunately, that last part is all too true).
Shaq knows better.
Once upon a time he owned a house in Plano. When in town for a Mavs game he hangs out at Hotel Zaza in Uptown, where the parking lot is filled not with mustangs but Maserati’s. But it doesn’t stop him – or TNT – from advancing the Dallas-is-a-country-city narrative. Same with NFL TV opens that nauseatingly show clips of grazing longhorns, as if they are our pet of choice. DFW’s Stetson stereotype has traveled, and preserved.
While in Greece last week on vacation, I can’t tell you how many times I endured this reaction when I informed a local I was from Dallas: “Oh, J.R. Ewing?!” It is 2022. The signature “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of Dallas aired Nov. 21, 1980.
*I smell trouble: Given their math of subtractions (Amari Cooper) outweighing additions (James Washington) this offseason, the Dallas Cowboys aren’t as good a football team as the one that walked off the field after the Wild Card loss to the 49ers. Meanwhile, the Eagles have significantly improved.
Dallas' relative inaction this offseason doesn't mean the Cowboys are doomed. But Dallas fans have a reason to be envious of Philly's go-for-it style.
Rookie offensive line
*As impressive as it was that Luka Doncic had more points than Devin Booker, more rebounds than Deandre Ayton, more assists than Chris Paul and more steals than Mikal Bridges in Game 7 against the Suns, his Game 1 performance against the Warriors featured more turnovers (7) than hoops (6).
If that trend continues, you can break out the brooms.
*With the Mavs captivating DFW, the Texas Rangers picked a bad time to be good. While almost no one noticed, they salvaged a 6-14 start with an 11-5 surge that had them flirting with .500. I’d love to break down Martin Perez’ pitching and Kole Calhoun’s slugging, but I’m fascinated-on-the-verge-of-obsessed with Marcus Semien hitting 45 homers last season and – yes, still – zero this season. As a Ranger he has been to the plate 153 times without leaving the yard.
We would’ve lost a ton a money betting against that.
*Nick Saban is right about NIL deals monkeying with college recruiting. But the Alabama coach is wrong to pick a fight about them with Jimbo Fisher and Deion Sanders, two guys with egos big enough to fight back.
*Three thumbs-up to Greece. The weather is 55-75 with zero humidity. The people are comfortable in their own skin, unaffected by other people’s opinion of their fashion, etc. It’s uber safe, thanks to a scarcity of guns (you’re 12 times more likely to get shot in the U.S.). Despite Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo being in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, sports weren’t at all prevalent. Before – and after – every meal they serve you Ouzo, which takes like a clear shot of Jägermeister and makes you not care about weather or guns or fashion or sports or anything but having a good time.
Oh, and the views? Did I mention the view? Santorini is breathtaking.
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*If you dare look ahead to a NBA Finals Mavs matchup against the Celtics or Heat, find optimism in that Dallas went 3-1 against them this season with a win in both road games. The only loss – to the Heat on opening night – came six months ago.
*Jerry Jones says he wouldn’t sell the Cowboys for $10 billion, or any amount. Ever. Don’t blame him. What’s a guy with more money than he can ever spend gonna do with more money? Instead, Jones – who will turn 80 in October – has something priceless. Something all of us – young or old – yearn for: a reason to get out of bed and be excited. To Jones, the Cowboys are a Fountain of Youth.
Some people lose that zest and that carrot of motivation at 60, 50, 40 even 30. He’ll have it until his dying breath, at which point he’ll have the peace of mind knowing it’s being transferred to son Stephen, who somebody will pass it on to Jerry Jr., then John Stephen, and so on.
*Since we are subjected to useless sideline reporters babbling on about some prefabricated featurette about a player’s favorite restaurant that could easily be communicated via the three-person announcing crew, let’s add another reporter that might actually be useful. We’ve got refs on hand for controversial calls. Even kicking experts on the field for NFL games.
It’s time to have a doctor on duty.
Next time Dak Prescott strains his calf or Luka incessantly rubs his shoulder, TV networks should give a microphone to a licensed medical professional who can accurately and immediately tell us the injury and the prognosis. Sooner or later it’ll happen, and you heard it here first.
*My former radio partner suffered a heart attack this week. But sounds like Greggo is going to survive and be back to his grumpy self in no time. Godspeed.
*This is the NBA Playoffs, where every game is meaningful, every shot pivotal, every possession fought for and drama drips from the final seconds. Or … it’s a bizarro time of year for blowouts. The margins of the Mavs’ last four games: 30, 27, 33, 25. They haven’t played a game decided in the final minute since Utah’s Bojan Bogdanovic missed that wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer of Game 6 on April 28.
*Jerry’s well-documented rough offseason keeps getting worse with the death of his long-time friend and former Cowboys personnel director Larry Lacewell. Good man with great stories. He will be missed.
RIP, Larry Lacewell
*Remember when we used to get excited about Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue? This year the cover model is … 74?!
*I’m not saying Warriors fans are more passionate than DFW’s precious MFFL. I’m simply reporting that Game 1 on TNT drew a 9.3 rating in the Metroplex and a 17.8 in the Bay Area.
*Special heated seats in Hades for the evil father-son duo of James and Bradley Nix, who not only scammed DFW investors out of millions of dollars but also stole $8,000 from a blind teen who was saving money for college by washing dishes at a fast-food restaurant. Heart. Breaking.
*Mavs mottos – 2011: “The Time Is Now”; 2022: “Time To Get Greedy”. Thanks to GM Nico Harrison for this year’s mantra.
*This Weekend? Friday is for dinner with Big Brothers Big Sisters lil’ bro Ja before Mavs-Warriors Game 2. Saturday is for morning tennis before a crawfish boil in Lakewood. Sunday is for visiting the parents in JoCoMoFo before Mavs-Warriors Game 3. As always, don’t be a stranger.