The Mavs are in a pinch at the 2-guard, with an assortment of talented players … who have one or two talents. Until youngsters Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones return and develop, respectively, Dallas is stuck playing guys with limited dimensions. Jason Terry started the first five games and averaged 19 points a game; that's his dimension.
But last Saturday, coach Rick Carlisle informed Stevenson – who has 428 career starts but has barely removed his warm-ups this season – that he might be a first-teamer against the visiting Celtics.
"And that's when I decided I would turn serious,'' Stevenson tells DB.com. "In a way, my role (on the end of the bench) is to have fun and keep things loose and be kind of a fun guy. If I wasn't allowed to do that, I'd go a little crazy.''
But Stevenson was all game-face in the time leading up to the 89-87 win over the Celtics, a performance in which he played 14 minutes, limited Ray Allen to 11 points, and even hit a couple of first-quarter 3's himself.
"Ray is a terrific shooter, so I tried to make him put on the floor,'' says Stevenson, who in his day (with Washington before last February's trade to Dallas in which he was a "baggage'' throw-in) has been commonly called upon to guard Hall-of-Fame scorers like Allen. "Hey, it's not like I haven't done some of this before.''
Stevenson believes that the alteration of him as a starter and Jet as the sixth man is a winning formula.
"Jet has been playing awesome starting, but coming off the bench he gives us a scorer and a veteran that knows the offense and plays well," Stevenson said. "I think me and Jet did an awesome job."
But that's probably not the way this is going to work. Coach Rick Carlisle likes to preach a "Be Ready'' mindset to his players and likes to keep his lineup plans private. So maybe DeShawn starts again on Wednesday in Memphis for the 4-2 Mavs. Maybe Caron Butler's back spasms allow him another shot in another way. Or maybe he gets to return to the end of the bench – where before Monday he'd spend all but two minutes of this season -- to be "crazy.''
"Whatever, I'm crazy-happy right now,'' he tells me.
And the other guys in the locker room are crazy-happy right back.
From Dirk Nowitzki: "I give Stevenson a lot of credit. It's not easy to not play for five games straight and stay ready and come out and play like that, guard Ray Allen, and make some big shots for us. I'm definitely happy for him. He's a professional. He showed it.''
From Carlisle: "He's been playing well in practice. He gets himself ready. … The guy is a pro. So I am very happy for him …''
Maybe DeShawn is as physically healthy as ever since undergoing back surgery in March 2009. But it's his mental health that he enjoys discussing right now.
I wonder if Stevenson took that one last 3 early in the second half because he knew his run in this game was about over, so he wanted to take one final stab at glory.
"Nah,'' he says, laughing. "But I know what you mean. On other teams, in other situations, maybe. But not on this team. Not with these guys. You see the example Dirk and Kidd set, you see how much everybody wants to win a championship, you don't want to screw that up. … When you're on a team like this, it makes it easier to come out and work hard and respect the game."
So DeShawn Stevenson is trying to respect the game while he's playing for the Mavericks. … and is having fun trying to keep from going crazy when he's not.