Championship Donuts: Put It In Ink
DONUT 1: The Dallas Mavericks' historic-to-be evening began Wednesday with coach Rick Carlisle's pregame presser. It was Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, and he was prepared to be jovial and cooperative. … but nobody really wanted to play. What more would us local yokels – you know, the ones ESPN's John Hollinger would make fun of because he knows NBA rules better than you excitable bumpkins do – want to ask?
DONUT 2: So a national guy took a swing at a interrogatory theme: "Window-closing'' stuff.
"It's an opportunity,'' Rick said. It was a very unlikely opportunity in our last game (the Game 4 comeback), we pulled off a miracle really to be in this position. The thing we do understand is we've got guys who have been at this level, getting to that next step is extremely difficult. Getting by these guys tonight is going to take a tremendous effort, and we're going to have to put together 48 minutes of good basketball."
So, the Mavs' window is closing, right?
"That is talk,'' Rick said, "that's been going on for years. It doesn't concern us."
"Yeah, but Rick … I'm a national columnist and I've ready banged out a column on this theme. Play along with me, will you?''
The writer didn't actually say that. But he thought it. So dude tried the question again, and Rick cooperated – by saying the Mavs don't engage in "window-closing'' talk.
"We're immersed in the moment,'' Rick said. "That fact that some of our guys have been tantalizingly close to the next step is reason enough we don't need to talk about it."
Which is a good, crisp answer. And only partial true.
DONUT 3: Does it count as "talking about it'' if, when the Mavs went up 2-0 in Los Angeles in a Round 2 series they were supposed to lose, Dirk Nowitzki cautioned and scolded some of the fellas, warning them against the dangers of premature celebration?
Ask DeShawn Stevenson, as DB.com videographer Kevin Brolan captured it last night after the NBA Finals-trip-clinching 100-96 win over OKC:
"Dirk got on us in LA ...'' And that's why there's no over-celebrating.
DONUT 5: Does it count as "talking about it''when more than a few Mavs have a mimeographed photo of the NBA's greatest prize, the Larry O'Brien Trophy, taped inside their locker stalls? Or that Jason Terry has a more permanent reminder of the fact that Dallas lost a two-and-seven-eighths-game lead in the 2006 Finals against Miami?
DONUT 6: This happened in October, following a preseason game against Orlando. A bunch of the fellas congregated at DeShawn's home. Among the invitees: Jason Terry. And D-Steve's tattoo-artist buddy.
For some reason, Jet's tattoo addiction is viewed as less nutty than DeShawn's. But before Stevenson came to town, Terry was the Reigning Prince of Ink around here.
So how does one top DeShawn's Abe Lincoln neck tattoo, or the backwards Pittburgh Pirates "P'' on his cheek or the Frankensteinian "crack'' on his forehead?
One – if he is Jason Eugene Terry, obsessed as is Dirk and other long-time members of the organization with redemption – gets a Larry O'Brien Trophy etched onto his right bicep.
"When he first got the tattoo, I said he was crazy,'' says DeShawn, which is saying something. "I didn't say it to him. But I've never been to the Finals, and for him to have that now. Wow. And he got that tattoo in October, and it means a lot with what we've been through."
Adds Jet: "Everybody laughed and they thought it was a joke at the time. When they actually see me get it, they were like, 'This boy is serious.' And our whole talk and conversation was about right now, about us getting to this point and winning it all.''
DONUT 7: A thank you here: DallasBasketball.com is about to do this like we've been doing it for a dozen years. The 75-Member Staff, 150,000 readers over the course of the last two months, our partnership now with FOXSports and our Mavs TV work ... and as always, we invite you to be a part of it in whatever form you wish. Please look around the site ... We've got Quoteboard, special features with everybody from Shawn Marion to Mark Followill to Ro Blackman, Video Visits, X's-and-O's analysis from the coaching-staff level ... We're full-service, 12 years runnin' and 24-hours-a-day ...
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DONUT 8: 'Trix for 26. Dirk with the dagger 3. Kidd battling for second-chance opportunities in the final minutes. JJB scurrying. TY and Big Wood absorbing body blows. The list goes on ... but yet is already being put behind them.
"We talked about it after the game,'' says Dirk, and as you'll see, they DO indeed talk about it. "This is a great moment and we can enjoy it for a day. But, we got one of those trophies already and it didn't mean anything at the end. I think once you get to the Finals, there is no 2nd place finish. I was already thinking about the Finals. I'm going to stay in the moment, obviously. Like I said, this is nice for a day, but we said our goal in October was to win it all so we haven't done that yet."
DONUT 9: "Nobody Believed In Us!'' - Mark Cuban.
"Nobody Yells In Hyperbolic Sentences!'' - Mike Fisher.
Tony Cubes is happily, giddily, wrong.
When he talked about the 20,000 people at the AAC who make up the only true believers, he was mistaken, of course. You've believed enough to hang with this bunch, to "Love Your Boys in Blue'' for the last decade-plus, to buy the tickets and the t-shirts and the DB.com Mavs Premium membership.
Now, if what Tony Cubes is saying is that there aren't many of you who believed they'd roll to 10 wins in 11 outings and be the team rested and waiting for the Miami-Chicago winner … maybe he's got us there.
DONUT 10: Rick Carlisle is now 10-3 in possible series-clinching games. That ties him for the best coaching winning percentage in such situations all-time.
And I know for a fact he was, up until recently, completely unaware of that number. He doesn't have a Jetesque tattoo. But he's got his focus.
DONUT 11: I think DB.com's Beau Shoulders captures beautifully the moods and personalities of the Mavs players right now (the kid's a genius) ...
... And all we can add are some words that, as colleague Michael Dugat notes, just don't seem quite worthy.
I do not believe this can be overstated, so for the last 12 hours as DB.com has written thousands and thousands of words on the subject (and we're just getting started!) I will state it again:
For the first time in the franchise's history, the Dallas Mavericks earned a Western Conference Finals trophy before their home crowd. Yet, there was no confetti raining down, catching in the sweat still clinging to the players' faces. No racing around the court in exuberant victory laps. No corks being popped. There was only a team that stands four wins away from their uncompromising goal.
While you may have taken to leaping around your living room, or dancing in the streets, as happened until all hours on the blocks surrounding the AAC last night, or fist-pumping in the space in your heads (that's how we had to do it on press row, maintaining a professional façade of calm), the Mavs were not overwhelmed in the moment.
In fact, if not for the throng of reporters flooding the locker room and a handful of extra smiles, you would have been hard pressed to find evidence of what this team has just accomplished in the locker room … even the trophy sat alone, almost abandoned by the players.
Actually, I can add more. I kind of like my amateur photography here ...
That other trophy, ol' whatsitsname, sitting innocuously behind a Coke machine all but stashed in the dirty-laundry basket. ...
DONUT 12: I invite you to become a Premium Mavs fan via DallasBasketball.com by coming down onto the floor with us.
A few minutes are remaining in Game 5. It looks as if it's really going to happen. This exclusive DB.com video gives you a chance to live inside the Sea of Blue crowd, to hear Mark Cuban's silence-breaking pronouncement, to NOT hear Carlisle's words as they are drowned out by "Beat The Heat!'' chants
… and then to see the trophy that is NOT the Larry O'Brien Trophy sit untended.
See the 5:54 mark? As we say in Texas, "Aw, bless that thing's heart.''
"(Dirk) wants that (other) trophy," Jason Terry says, late in the night, his arm wrapped in ice not because of that zany tattoo but because he banged his wing on the rim in the clinching game's final second. "He wants it bad, and his teammates feel the same way."
The Mavs are unbending when it comes to which hardware they desire. Its photo hangs in their locker. It's image is inked on their skin. Its presence is forever on their minds.
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