DONUT 1: I'm about to make an argument for Dirk Nowitzki as MVP. And just to appear to be less of a homer, I'm going to also include The Drama Queen (aka Kobe Bryant) in the same breath … And I'm working Lindsay Lohan and Meryl Streep into the conversation, too. Here goes:
Let's examine the parallels between the NBA's "star system'' and Hollywood's infamous mistreatment of aging actresses. And yes, in this analogy, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose get to audition to portray Ms. Lohan. And Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki vie to play Ms. Streep.
This is supposed to be KD's year. He's young and fresh and so is his team. The Thunder entered the season the way Lohan came through "Mean Girls'': Talented and promising and popular and sexy … and with freckles!
Durant has had his moments of brilliance, and entered the weekend at 27.3 points and 6.9 assists per game for a 13-7 Thunder team. Nothing wrong with that … but OKC isn't in first place in its own division and KD has missed three games with injury issues.
The nearer the top a star (or starlet) gets, the more challenging the task.
Derrick Rose, like Durant just 22, must know the feeling. Rose has numbers, too: 25.8 points and 7.9 points. But the point guard has led the Bulls to a 9-8 start . So despite his six 30-point-plus games so far this year, he's a "best player in a vacuum.''
While Durant and Rose were popular preseason MVP picks (think "The People's Choice Awards''), the Oscar nominee-level guys are ones who've done it before. Like Kobe Bryant, 32, of the Lakers, with 26.7 points and 4.6 assists per game for a 14-6 team – and an MVP trophy to his credit. Or Dirk Nowitzki, also 32, of the Mavericks, at 24.8 points and 7.9 rebounds and one MVP trophy.
And nine straight victories, something no team in the NBA can match.
Meanwhile, the conference higher-ups the Celtics and the Spurs deserve some team-wide attention here – and both clubs are veteran-heavy. And New Orleans' Chris Paul, with six NBA seasons, belongs somewhere on this list, as does two-time MVP LeBron James in Miami.
Durant's time will come. So will Rose's. Heck, rookies John Wall (Washington) and Blake Griffin (Clippers) aren't far from gaining a role in this sort of list.
But the likes of Kobe and Dirk are not done yet. To paraphrase what fictional screen legend Norma Desmond once said, "Alright, Mr. DeMille, they're still ready for their close-up.''
DONUT 2: One secret to the Mavs' defensive success: A scouting report of the opponents' offensive weaknesses and how they can be meshed into Dallas' defensive strength.
Which is, in a word, "Chandler.''
What the Mavs are doing in that regard: Giving an opponent the chance to drive inside only by using his weak (dribbling) hand. So, Dirk, say, takes away the guy's strong hand and habitual direction. The other way is open and allowed … but Tyson Chandler is coached to join Dirk in being aware of that … so Chandler doesn't have to help Dirk guard the guy's strength – he can lean to only worrying about the leak on the other side.
Make sense? Dallas is pushing opponents to use their weaknesses … and funneling all of it to Tyson Chandler to say "night-night.''
DONUT 3: You go broke betting against the Spurs. We know that.
The good people of the Alamo City are euphoric over the Spurs and their league-leading start. Yet in some ways, the Spurs – while re-tooling on the run (literally) – are in some ways leading a charmed life.
Last week, they came back from 21 points down to the T'Wolves for the second time already this season. Come-from-way-behind wins are nice … but an
inferior alternative to being the methodically dominant team of San Antonio's past.
With only three road games in December, the Spurs are hoping to stack their win column before the end of 2010. But beyond that, there are issues to be watched. They seem seriously height-challenged in the post. They have become a run-and-gun team (not bad) and a jump-shooting team (bad). Gone are the days of grind-it-out, half-court hoops for which the Spurs are so boringly famous and successful.
Can Pop teach this old dog some new tricks?
The Mavs' Jason Terry, for one, believes so.
"In the Southwest Division, New Orleans is good and really, everybody is good,'' Jet says. "But the cream is going to rise to the top. In the end, it's going to be Dallas and San Antonio, as usual.''
DONUT 4: Too bad about the Big 12 Championship Game, but maybe next year … oh. Wait. Never mind.
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DONUT 6: Tom Brady is endorsing Uggs because … he needs the money?! … he wears women's boots?! … his feet are cold?!
DONUT 7: Blake Griffin in the NBA Slam-Dunk Contest? The only "no'' vote will come from the rims.
DONUT 8: The Mavs aren't just the hottest ticket in town ... they are now the hottest ticket this side of Qatar.
You wanna go to a Christmas-time Mavs game? It might cost you $22 bucks for just one upper-level ticket.
Or you can come with me. And for that same price get TWO tickets, a t-shirt and a meet-and-greet. Check it out in
the DB.com Store! It's DB.com Night at the Mavs, Dec. 28 against Toronto, and you are invited!
Also in the DB.com Store, of course: The sizzlingly popular
"Reunion Rowdies'' t-shirt.
DONUT 9: After having watched Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans on Saturday night, I've reaffirmed an opinion:
I want him on my team. I just cannot let him be in charge of it.
Tyreke has so many gifts. But BBIQ is not among those. They say in basketball that against a team with a strong PG, you must "cut the head off the snake.'' But with Tyreke, that head already seems barely attached.
DONUT 10: A tweet from John Trollinger:
Not only have Mavs won 9 straight, but streak could easily hit 15. Next six games are at home and Utah is only good opponent in the bunch.
Ah. So NOW you're on our side?
DONUT 11: Clevelanders say it's "cathartic'' to be able to yell at LeBron. Really? While he drops 38 on you? Folks, to the victor goes the catharsis. … especially when in the Cavs' next night out, they lost to a have-not Minnesota team 129-95. ... and when in the game after that, they lost to yet another have-not in the Pistons, 102-92.
Sorry, but there is nothing theraputic about any of that.
DONUT 12: Jerry Jones can't win for losin', now available to be kicked around by Cowboys followers because he didn't hire RedBall sooner.
If not for a Roy Williams gaffe last week, Dallas' win at Indy yesterday -- once again achieved without the injured Tony Romo -- would put the Cowboys at 4-0 in the Jason Garrett Era.
And now all Jerry has to do is determine if this group of players that quit on Wade will wait a few years before it does the same to RedBall.