DONUT 1: Dirk at Work – It was a forever practice, scheduled to end around 4 p.m. Yet once one practiced ended … another began, triggered by Holger Geschwindner's decent down the practice court staircase.
Holger, Dirk's personal coach, mentor and surrogate father, positioned himself under the basket, his dress shoes, jeans and flannel shirt breaking all sort of on-court fashion laws. In German, he gently issued instructions to Nowitzki as The UberMan went through a 40-minute series of technique-perfecting moves, stretches, footwork and shots.
Right-handed baby hooks. Then left-handed baby hooks. Moves from the elbow to the basket using a purposely exaggerated first step. Free throws shot one-handed. Free throws shot as the 7-footers legs were spread nearly the width of the lane. A stretching exercise that had Dirk leaning way back, ball held behind his head, calling for him to bounce-pass the ball forward and between his legs back to himself. And a skillion baseline shots in One-Legged Euro Lean-Back style.
It all served as a rare glimpse into the storied unorthodox training techniques used by Dirk and supervised by Holger, who sometimes stomped his foot on the floor while Nowitzki was mid-shot, an attempt at distraction that never succeeded.
"He's on,'' said Dallas Mavericks radio voice Chuck Cooperstein, observering the drill with me. "His shots aren't even touching the rim.''
DONUT 2: All-Star reflections – A trio of them from Dirk:
*Someone asked Dirk if after a decade of All-Star appearances, he still ever has "nerves'' (nervousness). "Nerds? Yeah, you guys in the media,'' Nowitzki joked. (Without exactly joking.)
*Nowitzki indicated that he attended some sort of All-Star Game party, and that doing so was a rare occurrence. "The hotel lobby is crazy enough, full of celebrities. And in LA? Crazy,'' he said.
* The Slam-Dunk Contest? "For a guy with a 15-inch vertical,'' Dirk said, "it was fun to watch.''
DONUT 3: ‘A Beast of a Practice' – Most of the Mavs headed out of town for All-Star Weekend. Golf outings. Beach vacations. Family stuff. A handful of guys stayed behind (including Brian Cardinal and Rodrigue Beaubois – more on that below).
But once Tuesday's session was done, the Mavs, collectively, were gassed.
"This is an important workout because we've got to get the right amount of work,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "But yet we don't want to leave our game on the practice court today."
Carlisle said the workout "opened up the lungs.''
Nowitzki said the Mavs did indeed put a great deal of energy in the workout, which was in a sense like a "first'' practice given that the team hadn't been together since last Thursday's win at Phoenix.
"It was a beast,'' he said.
DONUT 4: Western Roundup – Carlisle said the trade sending Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks is one that benefits both the Knicks and the Nuggets.
I think he was being polite.
I engaged in some one-on-one with Rick after that (covering that topic and a variety of others) that I'm still working up. And I suggested to him that Denver is now a non-contender and certainly a lesser threat.
I think I cracked him.
Meanwhile, Dirk was cracking jokes.
"It's great for the West," Nowitzki said. "Hopefully Kobe and Tim Duncan go East next."
DONUT 5: Catching the Spurs – Jason Terry is increasingly becoming the Jet Who Cried Wolf.
Asked if 40-16 Dallas can "catch'' the first-place Spurs, Terry replied, "We're going to catch them sooner or later, whether it's now or in the playoffs. We'd rather it be in the playoffs, in the Western Finals or what have you. But we're going to catch them."
By "catch,'' Jet apparently means "meet up with.''
But it's fun stuff … not to be taken too seriously.
DONUT 6: A Killer Instinct? - Do the Mavs, with their penchant for allowing big leads to evaporate, have it?
"I think we have it," said Terry. "I think that game in Phoenix really was a statement for us. Coming in on a back-to-back, going in there and winning in the fashion that we did, I think this team has a killer instinct and we're going to have to bring it out every night."
But Carlisle isn't sure. And he's aware that owner Mark Cuban certainly isn't sure.
"He's tired of us blowing big leads,'' Rick said. "Our players are tired of it. Our coaches are tired of it. The reality is, leads are hard to get. When you get them, you have to value them. We certainly don't take getting leads for granted."
But the way he phrased that? What Rick is really saying is that Dallas DOES take getting leads for granted. And therein might exist a psychological solution.
DONUT 7: Do the Mavs Need That Second Star?: Carlisle has preached since September that his "Be Ready'' approach to as many as a dozen guys is the right one.
"Right now, we have a system that is working for us," Carlisle said. "We're really getting good contributions top to bottom and we've just got to continue to do that."
We asked Dirk the same question more pointedly.
"I think if we keep five to six guys in double-figures, we're tough to guard, tough to stop and tough to beat," said Nowitzki, who reiterated his position that Dallas doesn't necessarily need to make changes but that Donnie and Mark "are always looking.''
He said that while maybe not aware that the Devin Harris concept is real as we are reporting that Dallas and New Jersey are talking. UPDATE: Woj is reporting that Devin (and Favors) are heading to Utah in exchange for Deron Williams ...
DONUT 9: JJ Fever - JJB used the All-Star Break to go home to Puerto Rico. But there wasn't much of a party scene. He mostly just rested after struggling through issues with illness and a groin problem.
"I didn't do anything,'' said Barea, who did practice on Tuesday after enduring a reported 103-degree fever. "I just rested.''
DONUT 10: Mavsellaneous - It's Utah at Dallas tonight. Utah is struggling, but, said Carlisle, "They're going to compete like hell.'' … Mavs DB.com Podcast! Today at noon! Special Deadline Edition! Dig it! ... Wearing the White jerseys (indicating starters and mates): Dirk, Kidd, TY, Peja, Roddy B and backup Mahinmi … Carlisle multi-tasked, conducting his press conference while frequently stealing looks at Shawn Marion's shooting work…. DeShawn Stevenson wore orange shoes for no good reason at all. … DoJo was in the house wearing his protective boot ... Is it offense or defense? "One of the reasons our offense is clicked better is because we're defending pretty well," Carlisle said. "I wouldn't mistake more points scored for a lesser emphasis on defense or a lesser need for defense. Teams that focus only on run-and-gun and offense don't win championships. That's a fact.'' … Roddy B turns 23 on Thursday. I've giving him another FREE RODDY B shirt.
DONUT 11: ‘For Roddy, The Sky's the Limit' - "I think he's exactly what we need, an explosive guy who can get the ball in the paint off of the dribble," Nowitzki said of Beaubois. "For Roddy, the sky's the limit."
Maybe that's a sign that the organization is done trying to keep a lid on expectations. To Roddy B, game-level conditioning is all that really separates him from where he now and wherever that "sky'' is.
"I'm working on my cardio and my timing,'' said Roddy B, who finished up his into-the-evening shooting session with a series of length-of-court wind
sprints. "It's been a long time since I've been on the court. I didn't realize (last week's b2b) was going to be that tough. But I have to keep pushing
And then will come the sky.
DONUT 12: Last on the Floor – And at the end … still going … Roddy B, Ian Mahinmi and Dirk.
Beaubois was working on shooting drills and taking shots off screens, working with assistant Terry Stotts. It was a continuation of his weekend. Roddy B didn't go to LA, didn't go to Guadeloupe, didn't go to France, didn't go anywhere. He went to the AAC gym. Every day. And he worked.
Mahinmi put 20 minutes of extra effort into the same exact move, 20 minutes of repetition: Coming from the block to the high post to receive and shoot, all the while while being beat on by assistant coach Dwane Casey. Casey hung on Ian when he worked to the high post, banged on him again when he received the ball, and hit his arms while Mahinmi attempted to shoot.
And then there was Dirk. Forty minutes of splay-legged free throws, perimeter pirouettes, baby hook shots and baseline One-Legged Euro Lean-Backs. It was intense – but The UberMan can do it all on the offense end, which he demonstrated mid-shot when he noticed that assistant Gary Boren had changed out of his workout togs and had changed into his street clothes.
"Hey, Gary,'' Dirk yelled as he rose for the shot …
"Nice sweater, Gary,'' Dirk yelled as the released ball swished through the net.