Tuesday Mavs Donuts: Kareem Vs. Dirk!?
DONUT 1: Kareem Vs. Dirk? ...
I dunno. From where I sit, the relationship, handling and results of the Dallas Mavericks' relationship with that once-19-year-old kid with the yellow bowl haircut and the hoop earring turned out pretty OK.
But none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is talking about a Dirk Nowitzki-related regret.
In the esteemed opinion of Kareem, The UberMan made a developmental mistake by not going to college.
A young man can get into the NBA just because he has potential, but if that potential does not manifest itself, he will be traded or let go by a cost-conscious director of personnel. Even those players who are able to make it past the first hurdle don't always play up to their potential. A great example is Dirk Nowitzki. As a 7-footer, he had the opportunity to play college ball in America, but people close to the situation say Dirk avoided playing U.S. college ball because he would be called on to defend and rebound and play with the big guys.
Dirk has been an exceptional offensive player, but his NBA career stats show that he has limited skills as a defender, shot-blocker and rebounder. We'll never know how good he could have been had he spent more time rounding out his skill set with a top college coach.
That's jibber-jabber, of course.
There is no way to disprove Abdul-Jabbar's theory ... but that doesn't come close to making it accurate.
What, exactly, did Dirk miss out on?
DONUT 2: A vision of Dirk in college ...
So let's turn back the clock 13 years. And let's assume that Kareem is right about Nowitzki having been handled bad advice. (Something I've never before heard of and will clear up in a moment -- but let's play along.)
*Kareem says Dirk avoided college and thus avoided playing against "the big guys.'' On what planet are the college "big guys'' bigger or superior in any way to the "big guys'' Dirk played against as a young NBA'er?
*Kareem says Dirk is an inferior shot-blocker, defender and rebounder because he skipped college. In fact: He's not a shot-blocker because he can't jump well. He is actually an adequate defender but that part of his game is not his team's emphasis and anything he does accomplish on that end is overshadowed by his offensive brilliance. And any accusation that Dirk "isn't a rebounder'' plays into a sad myth that makes Kareem seem like he's spent 13 years not paying attention.
*The idea that Dirk lacked a "top coach'' to guide him, as would've been the case in college? It shows that Kareem is living in a different time. Had Dirk attended, say, Stanford or Cal (two of the three schools he did indeed visit of the 30-plus who offered him) he would've been coached by, respectively, Mike Montgomery or Ben Braun.
And Kareem thinks they would've coached him up in a way superior to how, say, Nellie and Del Harris coached him up?
My understanding is that the two main reasons Dirk passed on college were a) he was concerned a coach would try to push him into being a traditional back-to-the-basket center and b) the Nelsons told him he could come to Dallas and be successful. That's it.
And guess what? They were right.
Dirk once said that maybe he missed out on the college experience, but in that same quote, he very specifically notes how fun it might've been to play "one or two years'' at the NCAA level.
How would Nowitzki's NBA career improved had he done just that? Would it have helped him become a perennial All-NBA selection, a league MVP, a Finals MVP, a world champion?
Oh, wait. ... Following the exact path he already took, he accomplished every bit of that.
DONUT 3: Who wants a center from Tunesia? ...
The Mavs are on-record with DB.com as believing there is not a rotation-ready center in this year's draft. But that doesn't mean Dallas isn't covering its world-wide bases in trying to unearth ... something.
So comes the story of the Mavs doing their due diligence on Salah Mejri. Here's Mavs fans talking and video links, too. ... I've seen some video of the 7-footer, and well, he looks exactly like you'd expect a 7-footer who is playing in Belgium with the Antwerp Giants and averaging seven points and seven rebounds to look.
I'll work on the assumption that Salah Mejri is viewed as a project, though it's worth noting that the Knicks and Jazz are reportedly connected with him regarding having him play Summer League.
DONUT 4: Another log on the Deron-to-Dallas fire ...
File this away for future reference, because I can't speak to its significance at this moment. Yet it does strike me as something that, should Deron Williams sign with the Mavs, might come up as part of the backstory:
Like Deron, his wife, Amy Young Williams, grew up in the Carrollton/The Colony area. Last time I checked, Amy's family was still here, including her father, who is a minister at a church in Carrollton.
We wonder about how powerful the draw of Deron's mom and brother (residents of The Colony) might be for him. And now we get to wonder about another collection of family members in the area who would likely be delighted to dote over all those adoreable Williams grandchildren.
DONUT 5: The OKC Dynasty ...
I hear a lot of comments about how the Mavs have such an impossible climb to make due to the unscalable peak that is Mount Thunder.
But wait a minute ... So far, OKC looks like two years worth of "Next Year's Champions,'' doesn't it?
Don't misunderstand. After they won Round 1 over Dallas, OKC was my pick to go to and win the Finals. And, their bout with Miami is far from over.
But at the same time, OKC is far from having accomplished any of the things that make a champion a champion.
You say, "Well, they're so young, championships are inevitable.'' And I say there is no such thing as inevitability. There is only "The Next Big Thing,'' and they come along most every year, and yet somehow, different teams seem to win the Larry every year ... so where is the dynasty? Where is there anything but "promise'' and "potential''?
OKC is good and young. But what is the deal with Scott Brooks' contract? How willing will Harden be to listen to offers of eventual free-agent stardom? Will Ibaka ever desire to play a grander role? Is there a possibility of fan disenchantment? (It seems like forever away in OKC ... just like it did in Dallas just 12 months ago.)
The Mavs have already climbed this mountain, and have already been this mountain. Finley left. Nash left. Nellie left. Avery left. The Mavs maintained ... and eventually won it all. To assume that OKC is going to follow the same championship path is assuming a lot. Heck, to assume that this "great young cast'' will go unchanged is even assuming a lot.
DONUT 6: Thanks to the gang at Studio Movie Grill! ...
Studio Movie Grill -- Eat, Drink, Movies! -- is teamming up with DallasBasketball.com for some fun Mavs-lovin' projects. Thanks to the gang for their partnership and friendship with Mavs fans and DB.com!
DONUT 7: Follow Fish and the Mavs on Twitter! ...
DONUT 8: Walenda impressions ...
It's an oldie-but-a-goodie, a guy named "Walenda'' doing a high-wire act ... this time across Niagra Falls on national TV.
Three quick thoughts:
*Given the state of some of ABC's programming, maybe they oughta make this a series. I'd rather watch this guy walk across a front yard pushing a lawn mower than suffer through another episode of "Desperate Housewives.''
*The real daredevil is the poor SOB with the job of hanging the wire.
*Wear a helmet?! Nah. I appreciate the safety message some wished would've been sent by Mr. Wallenda to the young people of America, but if dude falls off that wire, I'm not sure how wearing a helmet is going to help him.
DONUT 9: Jared Sullinger's back ...
Chad Ford of ESPN reports that Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, expected to be a top-10 pick in the draft (and a guy the Mavs have done lots of research on) has been medically red-flagged by NBA doctors for back issues.
Sullinger was already going to be the most debated and polarizing player in the first round. The debate and polarization just got more intense. So did the pondering of whether a top-10 talent with a bad back might slip to, oh, around 17.
DONUT 10: The 200-Inch TV Screen! ...
The gang at Red Rock Bar & Grill know how to throw a party, that's all I'm sayin'. Live music, sports on the big-big-big screen, and crazy love for the Mavs. What more do you want?
DONUT 11: Note from New York ...
During my visit to New York, I hung out at "The Mecca,'' Madison Square Garden. It's where NBA players strive to play their best.
Except, I guess, the Knicks themselves.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Happy 34th Birthday, Dirk! Here, let Dallas sing it to you: