Friday Donuts: Pizza With Rick, Sleep With Mo
DONUT 1: If you're a basketball junkie scouring the internet for something NBA-related during the lockout, you've no doubt come across ESPN's NBA Player Ranking feature that literally ranks every player from 500 down to 1. Every day ESPN spits out about 20 names as they count down and as of today they are through 132.
Obviously it's unofficial in every way as the rankings were voted on by TrueHoop and ESPN columnists, but take a look at the rankings of players from last season's Miami and Dallas rosters. Dexter Pittman (437) and Jamaal Magloire (390) both appear before the first Maverick, Dominique Jones (375). From the rankings of 500-121 after those three, the order of players from both rosters goes like this: Ian Mahinmi (336), Juwan Howard (334), Brian Cardinal (326), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (317), Mike Bibby (307), Erick Dampier (302), Eddie House (297), James Jones (266), Peja Stojakovic (248), DeShawn Stevenson (229), Corey Brewer (208), Brendan Haywood (202), Roddy Beaubois (183), Joel Anthony (180), Mike Miller (169), and Mario Chalmers (155).
DONUT 2: This ranking system is quite a shtick for those scrapping for basketball content (I'm clearly on board), but there's actually a tiny bit that can be taken away from this. So much attention was given to the storyline of teamwork vs. individuals after the Dallas Mavericks' Finals triumph over the Heat. Based on the opinion of these particular sports personalities, that is somewhat backed up here.
From rankings 500-132, the Heat had 11 players listed while the Mavs had only eight. That may not be a true depiction of the ‘team vs. stars' narrative, but it absolutely represents a much more even distribution of talent up and down the roster for Dallas. That disparity is the exact byproduct we expected from a team putting so much faith and investment into three players.
DONUT 3: Even though the pollsters seem to be ignoring the fact that Erik Spoelstra would've gladly traded any mixture of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier, James Jones, or Mike Bibby for Brian Cardinal during the Finals, the rankings seem relatively accurate based on the result of the series.
The Heat's "closing" group was a combination of eight players: Anthony, Chalmers, Miller and Udonis Haslem, as well as the givens in Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. The first three players have already been ranked on the list and Haslem was ineffective in the Finals as tried to come back from a year long injury.
When it mattered, the Heat had their Big 3 and a mishmash of semi-anonymous players to fill the void at the other two spots. Shouldn't it have been more of a warning sign when the Heat were in the Finals and still didn't know what their best combination of five players was?
When it mattered for Dallas, their group was Marion, Jet, Kidd, Tyson, and Dirk. All of which knew they were going to be on the court during closing time. All of whom knew their roles and stayed ready.
All of whom have yet to make their appearance on the list as the rankings get into the elite level.
DONUT 4: DB.com has our crack reporting team seemingly everywhere in Dallas. That's why we know Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle was at Neo Pizza on Tuesday night enjoying a nice evening with the family. Even while laying low during the lockout, you can't escape our reach, Rick.
He was eating at a restaurant that's a stone's throw away from the stadium where he recently led the Mavs to a championship and cemented his legacy with the city of Dallas forever. Plus, he was speaking candidly to any fan that approached him to talk championship and began thanking them for their support … all while wearing his Mavs t-shirt.
Maybe Rick's not laying as low as we thought.
DONUT 5: Does your brain want to instantly close the shades, turn on Judge Joe Brown, and take a midday snooze whenever anyone brings up NCAA conference realignment? Refresh your outlook by giving Chuck Perry's take on the situation a quick read. (Spoiler: the difference between him and everyone else is that he knows what he's talking about.)
DONUT 6: Tony Romo takes a shot to the ribs that broke something in there and punctured his lung. He toughed it out and became the hero as the led the Cowboys to a win. Alex Smith took a shot to the head at some point during the first half and got a concussion. He toughed it out too and didn't miss a play, but he looks kind of like a doofus for staying in the game. That's where we're at with head injuries in the NFL.
Personally as a 49ers fan, I would've preferred Alex to at least go have it checked out for two series maybe … just to see how things would have gone. I just want to be safe here …
DONUT 7: In much of the same way that teams like the Nuggets and Trailblazers wanted to line up the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, the MLB may have teams tanking or trying based on getting the matchup they want in the ALDS. If the Rangers clinch in the next 3-4 games, they'll have the opportunity to rest players and half-ass it during the last series of the year.
Ah, but there's a problem with that.
That last series is in Anaheim and with the Red Sox doing their best '07 Mets impersonation, the Angels may be able to grab the wildcard spot with a series win over Texas. If you're the Rangers, do you rest and give the Angels a glimmer of hope, or put in a real effort to keep them out of the picture?
Boston's offensive lineup is scary, but the Rangers saw firsthand in last year's World Series what timely hitting and stud pitching can do. It was Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner for the Giants and for the Angels it's Weaver, Santana, and Haren.
It's nice to be able to have a say in which team you play in the postseason, but we all know how that worked out for those who saw the Mavs as a "favorable" matchup in playoffs earlier this year.
DONUT 8: Rumbles and grumbles of a supposed breakthrough in talks between the NBA and NBAPA swirled throughout the media this past week. None of that came to fruition yesterday when the sides met. Derek Fisher didn't have much to say in representation of the players and neither Adam Silver nor David Stern had much of a response from the league's side. Now we're hearing that there's no scheduled time for the next meeting and the league is making plans to delay the start to training camps ... maybe with an official announcement today.
Glass half full take: It's good that they're not publicly calling each other jerks anymore, I guess.
Glass half empty take: Time will eventually run out, fellas.
DONUT 9: What does this mean for the Mavs? They were/are scheduled to open training camp at the beginning of October. They were/are scheduled to open the preseason on Tuesday, October 11, in Indiana. At DB.com, we -- like you -- take training camp and the preseason very seriously. The home games, of course. But also, last year, you will recall, Followill and Coop filed notes from the road and Fish traveled to Palm Springs for the Mavs-Suns night game.
We are filling the void as best we can with content at DB.com. ... but there will be no real way to fill the real void if there is no basketball in October.
DONUT 10: Regarding the above: I'm already seeing SportsCenter trying to fill the void ... by showing more WNBA highlights. No, ESPN. Just don't, OK?
DONUT 11: Want more Mavs and DB.com?
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DONUT 12: Much respect to Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano, who finally called it quits this week. If not for Dirk and Co this past summer, Mo and the '99 Stars would still be the last major DFW sports team to have brought a championship to the city. It's been well over 15 years since I remember seeing Modano first play with the Stars and I can confidently say that the man-crush continues today (and you're lying to yourself if you're a guy who doesn't admit they have one).
The Stars' heyday back in the late 90's still stands out vividly in my mind. Welcoming the team back to Valley Ranch after their 1998 loss to Detroit in the Conference Finals specifically sticks out because of Modano sticking around until three or four in the morning to sign autographs for the Stars faithful.
And then there is the infamous Fish-Modano story, which goes something like this: Fish got a divorce and moved into Modano's house. And the two of them spoke Minnesotan to each other until Fish's heart was fully healed.
Anyway, Mo, spot on the figurative Mount Rushmore of DFW sports awaits you.