DONUT 1: What's all the hubbub about Mavs Premium? Aw, OK. Take a sampling of what hundreds and hundreds of Mavs fans are getting for about a dime-a-day investment in DallasBasketball.com:
That's a Rick Carlisle that you don't see too often. ... a Rick with a sense of family, a sense of history and a sense of humor ... bloody finger web and all!
My thanks to Rick for hanging out with DB.com to goof off ... and my thanks to you for taking the 7-day free trial. You will be pleased! Go Mavs and Go Premium!
DONUT 2: Dirk's a second-team All-NBA guy. Problem with that?
Rose, Kobe, LeBron, Durant, Howard are the first team. I supposed we can make an argument for Dirk over KD, right? And maybe for D-Wade to be in there somewhere. ...
Second team is Westbrook, D-Wade, Dirk, Pau, Amar'e. Issues? At this moment, it's funny to think of Dirk and Pau as being on the same level ...
Third team: CP3, Manu, Aldridge, Z-Bo and Horford. Overall, some youth in this group of 15 guys ... a changing of the guard with no KG or Pierce, no Duncan, no Nash, and -- maybe ominously for the Mavs, two OKC fellas in the top 10 ... But no real problems, no.
DONUT 3: I wish for Dwight Howard to join the Dallas Mavericks.
What else do you want to know about this prematurely-hatched story?
I've known ESPN's Ric Bucher since 1988, when we were a coupla pups covering the San Francisco 49ers. A fine man and a fine reporter. And I saw him on SportsCenter this week, as you did, touting the idea that Howard has a short list and that Dallas (along with the Nets, Knicks and Lakers) is on it.
Now, I never discount anything that involves agent Dan Fegan, who as our David Lord explored long ago, is a serial-sender of talent to Dallas. And unlike those who argue that Dallas doesn't have the assets to play here, I respond with two words:
That's all I'm going to say about that angle here. (A few more thoughts are available in our Premium Mavs coverage.)
DONUT 4: I would slow this roll because I also saw my man Ric report in the next ESPN breath that the "Lakers will be going after ALL the big names'' ...
It's all very sexy, but I'm sorry. We're all going to want to chase down something more substantial than "all the stars want to go to New York, LA and Dallas'' and "New York, LA and Dallas want all the stars.''
Last year's Mavs desire to court LeBron James was formulated inside the organization and plotted out thoughtfully and in great detail. The idea of Howard-to-Dallas needs similar flushing out ... and if the story is real and when the time is right, I've got just The 75-Member Staff to do it.
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DONUT 6: So for kicks, and to faciliate this Thought Experiment, let's say it's the Memphis Grizzlies that advance.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Grizz in the WCF. And what can we learn about it by watching the TNT halftime show earlier this week?
The TNT team (Barkley included) asserted that (overall paraphrase) "The Memphis Grizzlies are the most versatile team left in the playoffs."
Interesting. Let's see how that can be: Why can't the most versatile team hold home court? If "versatility'' includes 3-point shooting, who do you prefer - Grizz or Mavericks? "Versatility'' meaning bench? Who has the better bench - Grizz or Mavericks? Who has the better individual star? Is one team vastly bigger than the other? Does "versatility'' mean traditional athleticism, in which case Z-Bo is as out-of-the-running as Dirk?
In the end, can't the Grizzlies be forced into being a jump-shooting team, in which case they will not succeed in the WCF?
Our girl BJ Stahl has a great phrase she uses in our "Mavs Quoteboard'' after every game: "Professional Respect.'' She finds quotes from each team that demonstrate that feeling for the foe.
We have that here for the Grizzlies, who do not deserve to be dismissed as an 8 seed; if you can go on the road and top SA and OKC, you are no longer ID'ed by your seed.
But "most versatile''? That sounds like a network trying to create a viewer-grabbing label ... because there are few things that Memphis is more "most'' at than Dallas is.
Maybe we'll find out tonight that it's not Memphis. In which case I'm sure we'll be told how OKC is "more something'' than Dallas is.
DONUT 7: June 24, 1998 is a day that goes down in Dallas Mavericks history as maybe the most productive night of dealing an NBA executive has ever experienced. On the evening of the NBA Draft, Donnie Nelson helped engineer a pair of trades:
One was for Steve Nash.
The other was for Dirk Nowitzki.
There are dozens of inexorable ties between the people involved in those dual deals, in which the Mavs acquired two future league MVPs without hours of one another.
Nash came to Dallas in exchange for a pile of guys, most of whom never made impacts, including Martin Murrsepp, Bubba Wells and the draft rights to Pat Garrity …and a No. 1 pick that was eventually used by Phoenix to select All-Star Shawn Marion – now with Dallas. And of course, Nash ended up returning to Phoenix as a free agent.
Nowitzki, now leading his Mavericks to a third Western Conference Finals appearance since 2002 and touted by his coach as one of the top 10 greatest players of all time, came to Dallas along with the Garrity rights in a deal with Milwaukee that allowed the Bucks to select Robert "Tractor" Traylor.
This has long been recognized as one of the most lopsided swaps in sports history, but the tale has taken a tragic turn now that Traylor has passed away at the age of 34.
DONUT 8: Police in San Juan said Traylor was found dead Wednesday on the bedroom floor of his oceanfront apartment in Puerto Rico, where the 6-8, 300-pound forward was a member of the Bayamon Cowboys basketball team. Reports say Traylor had been missing from the club for a few days and that he apparently died of a massive heart attack while having a phone conversation with his wife.
I was at Mavs practice standing alongside a team official when the news came across Twitter. I shared the early reports with the exec ... dead at 34? A guy of Dirk's generation? Wow. ...
DONUT 9: In seven years and 438 career NBA games with the Bucks, the Cavs and the Hornets, Traylor averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. He was a journeyman NBA player after a stellar career at Michigan – but one soiled by a scandal involving booster payments.
"The entire Milwaukee Bucks organization is saddened by the news of Robert Traylor's death," the Bucks said in a statement. "Robert was a fierce competitor on the court who helped the Bucks reach the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Milwaukee. … Off the court he was a gentle giant, displaying his smile and care, especially toward young people through his involvement in school visits and his work with the Special Olympics clinic."
For all of the positive things that Traylor was, though – and those who know him well speak highly of a fun-loving personality that fits his funny nickname – he was never Dirk.
DONUT 10: Traylor was the target of the Bucks in that '98 Draft. Their purpose was never to take Nowitzki. So they got the Nos. 9 and 19 picks (Dirk and Garrity) in exchange for the sixth pick. Dallas took Traylor at No. 6 and Milwaukee took Dirk at No. 9, all of it part of a predetermined swap.
The Mavs always coveted Dirk; as then-Bucks GM Larry Harris tells the Milwaukee Journal, "Dirk was in Germany, but not a lot was known about the German game at that time. Nowitzki was very young, a face-up big man who could shoot the ball, a typical European guy."
(Speaking of inexorable ties: Larry Harris is the son of Del Harris, who would eventually be hired in Dallas by Donnie's dad to help coach Dirk.)
The Mavs, with Donnie Nelson having spent years building up international scouting connections as a world-wide ambassador of the sport, believed Dirk might be something more than that.
They also had faith in a third-string point guard who was born in South Africa and raised in Canada. Nowitzki and Nash helped build a Dallas foundation that still stands strong today as the Mavs are in their 11th straight playoff season.
The Bucks tried to build with a seemingly more certain bet in Traylor … but in the last 20 seasons, Milwaukee has been above .500 by more than two games only twice.
DONUT 11: I spoke to Donnie Nelson after the passing of Traylor and he made a great point about the evaluations we make of athletes.
"We get so caught up in points scored and games won that we forget the true measures,'' Donnie tells DB.com. "Robert was a terrific prospect, a great college player. But that's not the story here. And the Bucks-Mavs connection, that's not the story, either. I got to know Robert as a member of the NBA fraternity. He was with us at the Nike Hoops Summit when he was a kid (in 1995).
"Tractor Traylor deserves to be remembered,'' Donnie says, "for the smile he had on his face and the smiles he put on other people's faces.''
DONUT 12: To the debate about how long we've been watching Dirk Nowitzki shoot the One-Legged Euro Lean-Back ... a debate that I am losing, by the way, with my arguably-too-specific claim about having seen the patented UberMan weapon in use in the early 2000's. ...
The Associated Press this week reports that Dirk has just now added this shot to his toolbox. I countered yesterday by saying I've been chronicling the trademark fadeaway since 2001. Our buddy Tim MacMahon responds to me sayng it's more of a mid-decade phenomenon -- and notes that Dirk himself says it became a "go-to'' move at that time.
Of course, I never argued "go-to'' moves. I'm saying that it was in his arsenal in his early years. But semantics aside, I think I'm losing the debate. Unless ... Here's 2001 ... go to the 10:25 mark. (Thanks, harhar.)
Now, I'm an old man. But I'm still of sound mind (iffy on the body). Early-decade. One-Legged Euro Lean-Back. Is that an example? What do you see? What do you remember? Yes or no?