‘Are we really good enough?'
It is not a feeling confined to the basketball court; it permeates our lives. Many people live completely under an assumption that they are not really good enough, that they are basically failures masquerading as successes. No matter how much we reassure ourselves, in the old Al Franken bit, "I am good enough, I am smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me."
What brought this to mind is the Dallas Mavericks' most recent game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Never before had a team in basketball history lost more than 24 games in a row, and that presents unique challenges because it part it makes the team playing against the Cavs a bit nervous. Those self-doubts begin to creep in.
So against the Cavs we got a game much closer than many of us would have liked. It was just a few days ago that It was just a few days ago that DeShawn Stevenson casually remarked that the two things you don't want to do in today's NBA is lose a home game to the Washington Wizards (with their 0-25 road record) or lose anywhere to the Cavs.
So, this game at the end is what has always been called a gut-check game, the kind of game that sets up perfectly as a bear trap. A team you are definitely supposed to beat, the NBA equivalent of the Washington Generals, except with less firepower shows up, and you just know you should beat them badly, and yet with the game even at 79, there was no assurance that two streaks were not going to end. As I watched in something of a panic from my couch, where a bag of Frito's was feeling my wrath, I heard more than a smattering of boos. I have to admit, I was nervous. Not as nervous as I was when my wife asked me if I knew what day it was, but nervous nonetheless.
It was clear to see: the Cavs were getting confident, deep within the coils of their post-Lebron era (otherwise known in Cleveland as The Apocalypse), they began to see a glimmer of hope, and from that glimmer sprang delusions of adequacy. Fortunately, as the game progressed the glimmer turned out to be only a mirage, like the temporary seating in Jerry World. Their self-doubt and the relative confidence of the Mavericks turned out to be the difference as the Mavs knocked down the must-shots at the end, and the Cavs found themselves again feeling like Wile E. Coyote after blowing himself up with his ACME Bomb-making Kit.
So it is difficult to win in the NBA. The Mavs are 36-15. And yet it's a fact. Cleveland has eight wins, the worst team in the NBA and positioned in the East basement. Tonight, the Mavs are at Sacramento, and with 12 wins, they are the most non-winning team down there in the West basement.
Yes, it is difficult to win in the NBA. My Frito's bag and I hope the Kings prove that night after having learned that the Cavs prove it, too, every night.