The Dallas Mavericks tossed some boomerangs at their D-League little brothers in Frisco this weekend, and on the surface the story is about guard Justin Anderson, forward Jeremy Evans and center Salah Mejri being assigned to the Texas Legends on Friday to play in what would be a 115-106 home loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors ... before the trio returned to the Mavs for Saturday morning shootaround (to prep for that night's visit from the Wizards) ... which was followed by Anderson and Mejri being reassigned to Frisco (and then Anderson being "un-reassigned'' due to Deron Williams' illness) for what would be an 86-76 loss to Sioux Falls.
But there's something else in the sandwich: a spread of Basketball Soul in the form of Dwight Powell, Ray Felton and Wesley Matthews, who chose to spend their Friday night in Frisco to cheer on their pals and their extended pals in the organization.
"Oh, she loves sports as much as I do," Powell tells me of his and his girlfriend's choice of date night. "It was an easy decision."
There may be no greater measure of the inner difference between this year's Mavs and last year's theoretically more talented edition that this tale. (And yes, I write this hopefully as Dallas is 13-11 with three straight home losses and a 5-5 record at the AAC going into tonight's visit from the Suns.) Late last year, prodded by the unhappy musings of coach Rick Carlisle himself, we questioned the strength of those Mavs' "basketball souls." Shortly thereafter, Rajon Rondo was disinvited from his own locker room (his statistical rejuvenation in Sacramento will never offset his hemerrhoidal existence here) and Monta Ellis, the team's most productive player, was freed to join Indy as he wasn't even offered a contract here.
And there they sat, together at a "minor-league" game on their night off ...
*Powell, himself a youngster who has performed in both Dallas and Frisco, of whom Legends staffer says, "He's about the most coachable guy we've ever had come through here."
*Felton, a punchline to some observers but for Dallas now a part-time starter of whom no less an authority on team chemistry than Dirk says, "Ray's a professional ... He’s a good dude off the floor. He’s a team guy. He’s easy to root for.” "
*Matthews, the IronMan fan favorite of whom Carlisle says, "He's a tough-minded leader and a real competitor.''
Earlier on Friday, the Mavs players showed up at Nick & Sam's restaurant for a charity effort that saw them making cookies and pizza with sight-impaired children via DARS Division of Blind Services. It could easily be argued that Powell, Felton and Matthews had done plenty for one day; then came Friday evening and you have an off-night away from basketball and you are young and rich and handsome and single in Dallas, Texas and ...
"Let's go watch some more basketball in Frisco!"
"Those three guys," Mavs exec (and Legends owner) Donnie Nelson tells me, "are part of a unique bunch."
Donnie could be taking about Anderson (34 points on Friday), Mejri (on Saturday good for eight rebounds, eight points, three blocks and a steal) and Evans (17 points and seven rebounds in a Friday assignment I'm told was actually his own voluntary idea. ... and there be more Evans in Frisco to come.)
Or he could be talking about three members of this organization's "varsity" who know their relationships are in part about basketball but who also seem to know their basketball is about relationships.