All-Access Mavs Includes 1-on-1 With Carlisle
DIRK BATS LEADOFF: We'll let you view the whole six minutes of Dirk Nowitzki's Wednesday presser on following the Dallas Mavericks' practice. But we want to pick out a couple of highlights for you to listen and look for, all of them focusing on this errant idea that there is a "Different Dirk'' ...
Trying to prove something, Dirk?: "Really, it's not about that to me. I want to win a championship before I retire. That's my goal. I don't want to please experts. I don't play for anything else. That's really all that's left in my career.''
Yeah, but, Dirk, aren't you different now than you used to be? You know ... tougher or something?
"Not really,'' Dirk says. "Since Avery took over we worked alot on back-to-the-basket stuff. So ... I don't think my attack changed much ...''
In other words: Enough with this foolishness. The man is 11 years running an All-Star and so established as a superstar that he won an MVP five years ago. Nellie and staff helped developed him and Avery and staff helped develop him some more, but ...
The UberMan is The UberMan.
What are these late-to-the-table observers trying to say? That Nowitzki is somehow vastly better than the player who won the MVP?
OK, Dirk, the stage is yours:
"We've got a great shot this year and we've got to go for it,'' Dirk says. "We're gonna be one team out of four that's still playing and it feels good, but ... Our goal was to win a championship, and that's what we're going for."Our goal is a championship.''
CARLISLE AT LARGE: First, a meaningful chunk of Rick meets everybody ...
But then, some golden gold ...
FISH GOES 1-ON-1 WITH RICK CARLISLE: Sit back, kids, and let's learn something about Carlisle as a closer, a parent, and a bloody champion:
There's a lot to take from that, we think, especially as it regards Rick's reputation as "prickly.'' Our experience is that if you try to handle yourself as professionally as he tries to handle himself, the exchanges can be thoughtful and fruitful, like we hope you find this one to be.
(We're not saying we're all "professional,'' just that we made sure to shave and stuff before filming began.)
D-HOWARD TO DALLAS?: We've known ESPN's Ric Bucher for 20 years. Good cat. We saw him on SportsCenter, too, reporting that Dwight Howard has a short list of teams he'd like Orlando to possibly deal him to, a list featuring the Nets, Knicks, Lakers …
And the Mavericks.
We cannot ignore the idea -- heck, it's hard to ignore an idea that makes you salivate. Nor do we discount anything that involves agent Dan Fegan, who as our David Lord explored long ago, is a serial-sender of talent to Dallas.
Assets to match up with a superstar big in his mid-20's? That's tough ... though we can see one easy way to get in the bidding that would involve Howard wanting out of Dallas while Tyson Chandler wants to chase big dollars elsewhere (all in theory, remember).
But here's the cautionary note about treating Ric's "scoop'' to seriously at this early stage: In the same ESPN breath, Bucher also reported that the "Lakers will be going after ALL the big names'' ...
It all sounds a bit to "throw-a-blanket-over-'em'' to us. The big players all like the big teams. ... the big teams all like the big players ...
FISH 1-ON-1 WITH FANTASY FOOTBALL EXPERT BRENDAN HAYWOOD: We have a lot of things in common. ... We both love Fantasy Football, we ... well, that's about it. ...
Big Wood will take you on if you're LaMarcus, if you're Bynum, or if you're the type that drafts a kicker before the final round.
BYNUM CALLS BAREA: J.J. Barea took the shot. But he didn't take the call.
JJB says he received a voicemail apology from The Cowardly Bynum, who delivered that violent foul in Game 4 of the Lakers swan song, earning him a five-game suspension and a $25,000 fine.
"I got the message, and I heard the apology,'' sayd Mr. Universe. I think he means well. He's a great guy and great player. He had a big mistake ... that can happen to anybody. I think he regrets it.''
JJB is still working through soreness in his left and and ribs but he practiced at full speed on Wednesday.
Here's the JJB visit ... enjoy Shawn Marion's attempt to join the media ... and then jump out of shock when Darrell Armstrong rings that dang "hear ye hear ye'' bell. ...
MAVSELLANEOUS: "I'm going to keep driving and I'm going to keep getting hit," JJB says. "That's what happens." ... Dirk Nowitzki wore the blue jersey (instead of the starters' white) at the end of practice, but we're pretty sure he's still a first-teamer. ... Jason Kidd snuck out the backdoor after practice to avoid interviews; Dirk will likely do the same on Thursday as the two Hall-of-Famers now have an arrangement to take turns putting up with us media clowns. ... "I think personally, if I have a preference, I would rather play Memphis, I think," JJB said on an ESPN news show. Um, that's not wise. JJB went onto say, "But it really don't matter. ... I'm just trying to put it out there and maybe pick one, but I really don't know." Yeah, but too late. We understand JJB is just trying to answer the question and be polite, but --unwise. ... Third-string center Ian Mahinmi put in extra time after practice polishing up offensive moves while being battered by assistant coach Dwane Casey ... Casey, by the way, is a finalist for the Rockets job, according to the Houston paper. ... Brendan Haywood with a sharp take on the reputation the franchise has for falling short in the postseason: "Who was here then? Dirk and Jason Terry? Those are two of the mentally-toughest guys I know. Doesn't make sense to judge all these guys by things that happened four, five, six years ago.'' ... The media crowd around Dirk was so large that Jason Terry and others could barely plow through to get to the up-staircase. But eventually the sea parted -- that's what being a Sports Illustrated cover guy does for you. ...
THE LID ON CARON: In this space, we try to keep a lid on unrealistic concepts. Loch Ness Monsters. Sarah Palin for President. Caron Butler's miracle comeback ...
"I don't really know where his head is on that," said Nowitzki of Tuff Juice comeback talk. "I think we as players focus on whoever is ready and those are the guys that practiced today, and that's really all I'm worried about."
That's no dig at Caron. That's simply the only way to look at this, if one is being frank. The Mavs can take inspiration from Butler's work ... but he's not even practicing, so they cannot afford to spend too much time on being concerned about it.
A PRACTICE LOOK-AROUND: Here's your look-and-feel piece. Just the fellas ... hanging out ...
THUNDER-GRIZZ TALK: Yes, the fellas are watching that series, waiting for a winner to emerge so it can meet Dallas in a Western Conference Finals that will begin at the AAC on either Sunday or Tuesday.
Dirk Nowitzki even offered a scouting report of sorts on the Thunder's 133-123 triple-OT win in Memphis on Monday.
"It was an unbelievable game — back and forth, big shots made, three overtimes,'' said The UberMan. "So, it was an unbelievable game as a fan to watch the hype and guys making desperation 3's. And the atmosphere there was great, so it was a fun game to watch. ... Obviously, the teams are a little different. Oklahoma is a little more perimeter-oriented. They've got a lot of scorers on the perimeter. And Memphis likes to pound it inside, play inside out. But I think whoever we're gonna face we've gotta be ready, play our game, be solid inside, battle defensively like we did against the Lakers and be ready to move the ball offensively and make shots."
That series is tied 2-2, and naturally also has the attention of Carlisle. How did the Mavs coach see the game?
"On TV!'' Slick Rick replied.
REST VS. RUST: Carlisle says the Mavs will stage a full scrimmage on the main court this week in order to simulate game conditions during this week off.
While the Mavs want their rest, they also want to maintain what Carlisle calls, "the mental edge."
Rick also had a few other things to say about the psychology of sport, something that has interested him since his University of Virginia days, when he studied under a professor named Dr. Bob Rotella, the PGA sports psychologist. . (It's not a coincidence that the Mavs employ one of the top names in that field, Don Kalkstein.)
"Some guys try their hardest,'' Carlisle says, "they just don't know how to try their best.''
TYSON'S ACCOMPLISHMENT: Chandler has become just the second Dallas Mavericks ever to make the first or second All-NBA Defensive Team (TY is a second-teamer, as Derek Harper once was) ... and he is justifiably proud of the accomplishment.
THE FINAL WORD: We give it to Jason Terry, who met the media four different times on Wednesday. We are happy about his cooperative nature, amused by his knack for the soundbite and interested to learn that the club held a team meeting after that Game 4 loss in Portland, a session that a number of Mavs credit for getting the gang to refocus.
"Humble and hungry!'' Jet says.
Not too high on our wins, not too low on our losses!'' Jet says.
"Kill or be killed!'' Jet says.
The Final Word ... a thesaurus of words.
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