Thursday Donuts: IDing Drunk Santa & 0-2 Mavs
DONUT 1: First to the issue of "Drunk Santa,'' who made his high-profile appearance on Christmas Day while heckling LeBron James during the Dallas Mavericks opener:
Funny stuff, even if Santa was yelling at LeBron while Santa's Mavs were down 32 points or so.
DONUT 2: But is Santa really stupid? Is he really drunk? He's on thousands of websites all over the world now ... ID'ed as "Drunk Santa.''
There is a better truth there. I'll get to it in a moment ...
DONUT 3: But first, why don't we attempt to diagnose what I think are three key Mavs issues that have led them to his 0-2 hell?
"We look old and slow and out of shape,'' Dirk Nowitzki says. "A bad combination.''
Consider that Nowitzki's State of The Dallas Mavericks Address as the defending champions are off to an 0-2 start that features back-to-back losses at home in which opponents led by 30-plus points in both. There is virtually no limit to the list of blame-worthy issues and blame-worthy people. So while coach Rick Carlisle is doing the savvy and manly thing by taking it on his shoulders – "I'm the head coach and it's on me'' – Dirk knows better.
It's all of us together," Nowitzki said. "Coach always tries to take the blame if some stuff doesn't go right, but we've got a lot of veteran guys and we've just got to keep on working and eventually turn the corner. It might take another week, it might take another two weeks, but we've got to find ways to stay in games and not be down 30 at half."
But in this lockout-shortened 66-game season, the more time Dallas takes to work itself into shape, the less likely it is to work itself into contention. Game 3 for the Mavs is at Oklahoma City. The Thunder is the team that Dallas defeated last spring in the Western Conference Finals but is at this moment as young and quick and in synch as the Mavs are old and slow and out of shape.
What needs to be overcome in order to compete with OKC and beyond? Be looking later today for NBA scout Kyle Leath's "Advanced Scouting Report'' on the Thunder, but here I'll pinpoint three specific culprints:
DONUT 4: The Mavs really are old.
I've pooh-pooh'ed this issue before. But now, seeing them on the floor and hearing Dirk's review, I pooh-pooh no more.
Dirk is 33. Marion is 33. Jet is 34. Haywood is 32. Odom is 32. Vince is 34. Kidd is 38. Those are maybe destined to be Dallas' top seven heavy-lifters this year. Average age of those seven is ... 34.
DONUT 5: There is an assimilation problem.
Let's skip over Carter, a starter in a Game 1 loss to Miami and then just a supplemental non-factor in the Game 2 loss to Denver; his future is as a role player and the Mavs, eventually, will not ask too much of him.
Let's instead focus on Odom, who possesses a certain sort of "veteran cool'' that in this 0-2 start might be interpreted as "excessive nonchalance.''
Through two games, Odom has hit just 2-of-16 shot attempts to put his shooting percentage for the season at 12.5 percent. It is understood there is a period of adjustment for the Mavs' trade steal from the Lakers, part of that the emotion that comes with the change and part of it a learning curve to a new system. But there should not be this many periods of lethargy.
"We're just not doing what we're supposed to,'' Odom said. "I'm not going to say it's effort. We play hard. Just because you play hard that don't mean you play right. You can play hard, but still get your ass busted.''
It is very difficult to agree that the Mavs have played with maximum effort through two games. Indeed, that's why the energetic work of third-string center Sean Williams in the loss to the Nuggets is by far the No. 2 highlight of this young season (with only the Christmas Day raising of the championship banner ranking above it). Williams, a 2007 first-round pick of the Nets who signed with Dallas a week ago after stints in the D-League and in Israel, offered all the electricity he had in his Dallas debut and when it was over, retreated to the bench and vomited.
"He brought energy, brought athleticism, made plays,'' Rick said. "He was playing so hard, he threw up. That tells you that he was going at it the way you need to."
Rick did not say the same thing about a dozen other guys. The gap between Williams' effort level and that of his teammates was as wide as the space they gave him after he ralphed all over the AAC floor.
DONUT 6: The Double-Hangover from the championship and then the lockout ... two problems in one.
I hope you're not sick of hearing about my Mount Everest/Champion Theory, because it's going to be a factor here forever -- or at least until Dallas goes deep into another playoffs.
This is the factor that Mavs fans simply have to live with for the moment … and, in a positive way, live with forever.
Dirk admits he didn't "touch a basketball for two months'' before arriving to Dallas for the abbreviated training camp. Jason Kidd played a lot of golf from his new home in the Hamptons. Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea led a platoon of championship-team members who marched out of town, the result of Dallas' decision to let them go via free agency while "keeping the powder dry'' for future major roster moves.
What was left? A bunch of guys who'd drained their hearts and souls and minds in seeking a specific prize. An impossible prize achieved. ... and now they're supposed to do it again?!
DONUT 7: Odom, Carter, Delonte West, Brandan Wright, Sean Williams, those guys? Victims of a different sort of hangover. They didn't practice at being Mavericks because up until a few days ago, they weren't Mavericks. The kids who existed right on the outskirts of last year's title? Roddy B and DoJo both tell me had them seriously considering overseas offers ... and then the lockout ended.
Big win. Big partying. Lockout extended. Old stars leave. Plans change. Short camp. New guys arrive.
All that amounts to a double-hangover ... or worse. Maybe a quadruple-hangover.
DONUT 8: Just when you thought the Mavs world was crumbling while everyone around them was rising ...
Tyson Chandler last night led the Knicks to a loss to the Warriors with his two points, three rebounds and five fouls.
Meanwhile, the Celtics lost to an Eric Gordon-less Hornets team to drop to 0-3.
The same 0-3 that seems Dallas' fate after tonight against an OKC squad that won last night despite an 0-of-13 night from Westbrook ("keep shootin', Westy! That's YOUR team!'') and a nearly violent bench spat between Westy and KD.
Sports is tricky. Things move fast. Change on a dime. Sometimes the more you study in search of answers, the more questions you find.
Except for John Trollinger, of course, whose magical brain only requires eight quarters of watching basketball on TV to determine a champion's impending six months of doom.
DONUT 9: Come follow Fish and the Mavs Twitterverse with the help of The 75-Member Staff ... as our whole gang reports all day and night from OKC!
DONUT 10: Kris Humphries is the Most Hated Man in the NBA?
A Nielsen and E-Poll Market Research poll lists the ex-Mav and ex-Kardashian as the most hated player in the NBA. Silly? Yes, because when you see the list you will realize that these aren't NBA fans who voted, but ladies who browse magazines while checking out of Kroger's.
Check out the top 10:
*Metta World Peace
Nets coach Avery Johnson says that most of the people who are booing Kris "don't even know why they are booing.'' Me? I'm a homer, so about two weeks ago I would've voted Odom higher. And now? I am outraged that L.O. would be on such a list!
Though if he doesn't quit shooting 12 percent, I might reconsider.
DONUT 11: "I've got to do a better job coaching these guys,'' Carlisle says, insisting on accepting blame. "Simple as that. I'm the head coach and it's my job to make sure these guys are ready to play, and it's clear that they're not. Right now, that's not something that's easy for me to say, and it's not an easy thing to live with. I've got a lot of work to do.''
Rick will be working today and tonight in OKC. So will The 75-Member Staff. But there is time for just a little bit of play.
DONUT 12: OK, finally, let's ID "Drunk Santa.''
That "Drunk Santa'' was not drunk. He's Kevin Kirk, a close friend of mine, a Mavs season-ticket holder forever, and a man who rarely drinks. Thing about him is, he ACTS drunk. Like, all the time. You might know him best from when he's out of costume:
Yes. He's "Thunder.'' Kevin, my former housemate (I believe I moved in with him after Richie Whitt and then Mike Modano had kicked me out of their homes), wore that Santa costume on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Christmas Week, too. Why, 'cause he was drunk?
No, he wore it while he visited a hospital and a downtown shelter, and he arrived bearing gifts, the result of his family's financial good fortune.
Believe me, Kevin/Santa/Thunder is LOVING being seen on a thousand websites. He's drunk with the attention, and he's drunk on acting silly, and he's drunk on being secretly nice to the less fortunate.
"Drunk Santa's'' real drug of choice is Mavs fandom. Which makes him just like you, only with a better seat and a whiter beard.