DONUT 1: Dirk vs. Bird
My guys “Shan & RJ’’ asked a simple question of Kareem back in October: Is Dirk better than Bird? And it still resonates with me because of how sensible the question is … and how much I hope Kareem wants a do-over.
“No way,’’ Abdul-Jabbar replied on 105.3 The Fan. "No way that Dirk Nowitzki is better than Larry, and Dirk is a first-rate — he’s an All-Star. Absolutely any time he’s been on the All-Star team, he’s deserved it. But Larry, I think, had more going in terms of leadership. If you take the 48 minutes of the game, for every second on that clock, Larry knew where to be on the court to be the most effective for his team. And Dirk doesn’t play the game that way. He’s a volume shooter. He’s a streak shooter and he’s wonderful at that — and he’s had a great career; I’m not trying to knock him, but Larry is one of a kind.”
I’m not prepared to argue that Nowitzki is superior to Bird. Larry was indeed “one of a kind.’’ But …
*Dirk is also “one of a kind.’’ Most incredible performers who are sure-fire Hall-of-Famers are, by definition, exactly that.
*Bird’s court sense was so impeccable that not even Dirk himself would argue that he’s spent a lifetime in that class; Nowitzki’s early years were a basketball education for him, while Larry’s early years in the NBA were full of him doing the schooling.
But when Kareem branches that BBIQ fact into a claim that Dirk is “a volume shooter’’ and a “streak shooter,’’ that’s simply wrong. Nowitzki’s career is highlighted, maybe most of all, by consistency and unselfishness. I bet Kareem, speaking off-the-cuff here, would really like a mulligan on that one.
*And finally, to the argument of leadership: Bird, according to everyone who witnessed his brilliance from the inside, was a leader in every possible way. But “comparing who’s a better leader’’ is a foolish game that can’t possibly take into account all of the invisible wrinkles that are part of that process and part of that skill.
If Dirk had been the go-to scorer on a team also featuring McHale, Parish and Dennis Johnson … how many titles would he have? How would his “volumes’’ and his “streaks’’ have been altered? How much of a “leader’’ would he be known as?
Dirk Nowitzki’s style of leadership includes passion and devotion and effort and class and skill. And goofiness. And everything else that makes him an all-timer … as well as a one-of-a-kind’er.
Of all the reasons to be excited for the Mavs season to start, Dirk remains, as usual, No. 1. And for me, it doesn’t matter if "Dirk is Bird.’'
Never has. All that matters to me is that "Dirk is Dirk’’ … in whatever form that takes.
DONUT 2: Captain Carlisle
Terrific work here by Tim MacMahon on Rick Carlisle the pilot … and even better work by Carlisle, because I never really worried much that Carlisle’s piano-playing skills might damage his ability to run the Mavs … but flying one’s own plane comes with, you know, risks.
Risks that as Rick points out, preclude him from allowing his wife and daughter to come along as passengers.
DONUT 3: Buyer’s Remorse?
Shortly after DeAndre Jordan reneged on his verbal commitment to Dallas, tales of those in the know with him tried to explain to disappointed Mavericks' fans that this is basically business as usual for the uber-talented center. He gets buyer's remorse with ... everything.
DONUT 4: Nasty and Snoop
Presented with virtually no comment …
Steve Nash shooting hoops. With an apple in his mouth. And with Snoop Dog doing his rebounding.
DONUT 5: Dirk’s Top 5
Seventeen years ago, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Dirk Dirk Nowitzki with the 9th overall pick, and was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Robert “Tractor” Traylor, and the rest is history. Dirk is arguably the most beloved athlete in the history of Dallas professional sports, and he has climbed the mountaintop for the Mavericks and for the city of Dallas.
DONUT 6: Stay in touch!
*DB.com Boards offers free membership and tons of smart analysis. And tons of Mavs hoops goofiness, too. I mean, it’s got “personality.’'
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DONUT 7: JaVale JaVideo
JaVale McGee has dismounted the motorized scooter — yes, the one Mark Cuban prefers he not ride because it’s a ripoff and not the real thing — in time to Video Visit with Mavs.com on his hopes for the coming season.
DONUT 8: See you at The Maverick Bar!
Man, do we have a blast having a Texas burger for lunch … listening to live music on the weekends … and checking out the Rangers, the Cowboys, our favorite college and NFL teams, and of course, the Mavs … at The Maverick Bar, 1616 Hebron in Carrollton. Join us!
DONUT 9: I-Man?!
Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert is about to have a daughter. His plans to name the bundle of joy?
“Iman Shumpert Jr.’'
Is that a violation of some child-naming rule? A little bit. But once your name is “Iman,’’ you are already making up your own rules. So, you go, guy. And girl.
DONUT 10: No Guessing Allowed
Kobe and Shaq, together again, as both men admitted regret letting their egos get in the way and acting immaturely in a way that broke up a Lakers dynasty that won three titles.
How many could they have won … if?
“I guess,’’ Shaq said, “six.’'
But … nope. That’s not the way these things work. It’s 1000-links-in-the-chain stuff. Everything happened, good and bad, for a reason. Kobe and Shaq couldn’t swallow their egos because … Kobe and Shaq couldn’t swallow their egos.
There is no “what if.’’ Heck, their egos are a huge reason they won the three they did.
I deal with this a lot regarding the 90’s Cowboys. Those players love to talk about what might’ve been had Jimmy not quit. But … it was in Jimmy’s nature to be a vagabond, to not be bossed, and to quit after four years. That’s just him.
Same thing here. Kobe and Shaq won exactly as many titles as they deserved to win, exactly as many titles as they were meant to win.
DONUT 11: 20 Mavs and their Money
Nobody does it better than David Lord, who here presents his to-the-dollar measurement of where the Mavs roster and cap is now ... with some notes and predictions about camp battles among the 20 present roster members.
Come inside and bring your Big Calculator!
DONUT 12: The Final Word
“It’s going to be great. I mean, Dirk could play until he’s 50, man, the way he shoots the ball. He’s always going to be able to shoot the ball, and he does so much more. I’ve always had a lot of respect for his game and what he does and brings to the court, and so I’m definitely excited as a point guard to be able to play with someone of his caliber. … You know, there’s definitely a stability about this organization that’s definitely intriguing.” - Deron Williams.