Upper Deck: A Mavs 'Who Done It'

I have an annoying habit. One of many, to be honest. It centers around murder mysteries, the TV shows where someone gets whacked by someone else, and where it is not supposed to be obvious "Who done it.' My annoying habit is, I always figure it out a couple of minutes in, and announce it to whoever is watching it with me. Worse, I am almost always right. And yeah, this has a Mavs application.

Yes, believe it or not this does have a Dallas Mavericks application in two ways. I can look at the remnants of the team this season and know immediately who done it, that is who killed the championship team from last year.

I recognize the season is not over, and the proverbial line is, it's a long season, anything could happen, LeBron James could catch malaria, not that I am advocating that, after all, it would not be like LeBron ever made fun of someone who was sick, and I would never ever suggest for a moment that the plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that is the main cause of human malaria, deserves to end up inside of LeBron, but that is not important now.

The fact is, I know who done it, and it was not LeBron, or Kobe, or even Timmy Duncan and the dark side of the force that inhabits San Antonio and occasionally sticks its head out like the alien that stuck its head out of the abdomen of that guy in "Alien.'' No, it was none of them. Like the television murder mystery it is always the guy you do not expect.

When I was a kid, it was pretty easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys, the bad guys had black hats and the good guys had an idiot sidekick. Batman had Robin, Cisco had Pancho, Captain Kirk had one of the red-shirted guys to kill off in the first five minutes. It was the way of the world. Truthfully, things have not changed that much there are still what gamblers refer to as tells, little signs that have significance even if they are subtle, even if they hardly seem to matter.

In the most recent murder mystery which I alluded to, my wife and I had just sat down and the show began. The camera panned the room before focusing on a guy in the middle of the room. No crime had occurred yet, no murder, no dialogue, no evidence of any kind, but to my wife's annoyance I loudly announced, "That is the murderer!''

She said, "You cannot possibly know that, nothing has happened.''

She did not, you see understand the concept of "the tell." In this particular case, the tell was obvious, even glaring to the trained observer because as the camera zoomed in on the mysterious man, over his left shoulder mounted to the wall of his living room, was a jersey, one of those autographed sports jerseys, a black jersey, with the word Spurs emblazed on the front, and the No. 21 prominent.

Immediately I knew this was no innocent, irrelevant guy, or not the guy who gets bludgeoned when he decides to go down in the basement to investigate a noise while everyone at home knows he should not go down there. No, this guy is the guy and it is as obvious as if he had three 6's tattooed on his forehead, he was obviously up to no good. Of course, to my wife's great annoyance, it proved true.

He did indeed kill the other person, although it was not in the way I expected -- boring them to death with a slowly-played Spurs-like basketball game. Instead he used a gun, but it was almost as deadly.

While most of us typical, unbiased, Mavericks homers understand the Mavericks are still the defending champion and they still have as good a chance as any other team to make a run, we also understand they are not playing the way we expected them to. Let's be honest, though: when the season started we expected the Mavericks to win all 66 games this season by an average score of 147 – 23 and we would complain about anything less, in fact we would complain about that if we thought Dirk Nowitzki was not getting enough touches.

"Complaining'' is what the sports fan does. It is as inherent in the human male as going shoe shopping at the mall is to uh, (trying desperately not to be sexist here) people who like shiny shoes.

Still, just before the season started I had this dream that I believe to be prophetic: it was David Stern standing in a room alone, and directly behind him on the wall was this framed Spurs jersey, No. 21 autographed in big letters by Timmy Duncan. Notably Timmy misspelled his name, but that is not important.

The dream gave me this feeling of dread, like the feeling you get when your mother-in-law pulls up in your driveway or like when your wife gives you one of those lists of things to do over the weekend. That's right, a feeling of imminent doom, and I awoke from the dream with just such a feeling. I have to point out that, to date, no murder has occurred thus far, no crime has been committed, but being totally unbiased here, if the Mavericks don't live up to our expectations by beating the hated Spurs tonight and then winning the next 10 straight championships, we know who done it.


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