DONUT 1: ON FIRE!
"J.J. has been on fire,'' says Dirk Nowitzki.
"He's on fire!'' reiterates Chandler Parsons.
And it's true. In helping to key Dallas' second-straight victory -- a 118-111 home decision over Chicago on Friday -- J.J. Barea is white-hot.
But it's more than that, too. It's opportunity and shot-selection and unselfishness and good fortune ... and it's all rooted in hard work, just as is the case for most every single professional athlete who achieves most anything.
Is JJB 22-of-34 from the floor (64.7 percent) and 12-of-15 (80 percent) from the arc in the last two games (including the OT thriller at Brooklyn) simply because he's "on fire''? His teammates do not mean to insinuate that at all. Barea was undrafted, he is 31 and anyone who tells you he's 6-feet tall is a liar.
DONUT 2: "THE NATURAL''
At the same time, JJB is a terrific "athlete,'' in the top tiniest percentile on the planet. Same with Dirk, so often "complimented'' with remarks about his lack of athleticism. Barea -- who is in reality 5-10 -- could dunk by the time he was in college, and rather spectacularly.
But "The Natural'' needs to be the "right'' size, so he's not Barea. He also needs to possess the more measurable traits, so Dirk isn't thought of that way, either.
But besides their own unique packages of athleticism, what do Dirk and Barea share? A work ethic that renders as odd ABC/ESPN analyst Mark Jackson's headline-grabbing critique of Steph Curry.
DONUT 3: 'HE'S HURTING THE GAME!'
Jackson, the former Warriors coach who has watched his old group soar to places not envisioned under his reign, wasn't really ripping Curry when he said that the Golden State star's perimeter brilliance is "hurting the game.''
It is clearly not Jackson's intention to "rip'' the player. The broadcaster -- who absolutely is charged with making sure he phrases things in ways that draw eyeballs to the television -- is actually trying to "rip'' high-school kids, I guess.
But here's the problem with Jackson's grandstanding: Once kids reach a certain age, they quit dreaming of being astronauts and firemen and presidents ... or they retain that dream and do the work that it requires to be astronauts and firemen and presidents ... and good basketball players. But in the meantime, and then later alongside the work -- which simply must come if a dreamer intends to become part of his high-school team under the supervision of a coach who will most assuredly not simply "run to the 3-point line'' -- will come the sheer pleasure of ...
Pretending to be Steph.
Or pretending to be Mike Trout.
Or pretending to be Dez Bryant.
Or pretending to be Jordan Spieth.
This is how sports fandom works in its infancy, and even if you are my age, you still trot out to the backyard or the driveway and mimic what you see on TV. Not because you are some dunce who is unaware that actually making shots for a living takes, you know, work. If you are reading this, you are probably an adult. When you were a kid, did you try to "Be Like Mike''? (Yes, you did.) And now, whenever you find a basketball in your hands, do you attempt the One-Legged Euro LeanBack in honor of Dirk? (Yes, you do.)
This is not a "disrespect'' for the game, as Jackson suggests; it's entirely the opposite.
And it's as old as sports itself. It's why your great-grandfather tried to swing like Babe Ruth, why your grandfather tried to dance like Ali, why your dad wanted to celebrate like Irvin ... and why "kids of all ages'' live and die with the exploits of the likes of LeBron James.
Everyone with an inkling of intellect understands there is work involved in being Dirk or Barea, Ruth or Steph, Staubach or Tiger, Brown or Ali or Russ. Everyone with an inkling of intellect should also understand there gets to be fun involved as well.
DONUT 4: 'HE'S A CRYB ... OOPS.'
Speaking of "kids of all ages'' and LeBron ...
We've all been there: We're gossiping behind someone's back, or saying something we shouldn't be saying when ... the person we're badmouthing suddenly moves within earshot. What makes this one different, however is ...
Your victim is LeBron James. And you aren't just caught by him; you're caught by America.
DONUT 5: STAY IN TOUCH!
We know you're budy in this holiday season and hope we bring a bit of cheer into your sporting life in a variety of ways! Let's do it via FishSports on Twitter and on Facebook right here and on DB.com Boards as well! Come get your FREE membership today!
DONUT 6: JONNY ON 'STAR WARS'
I personally could not be more proud of the terrific writers whose work has graces these DB.com pages (pages?) over the course of the last 16 years. Jonny Auping is a premier name on that list, and it's Mavs and beyond as he demonstrates here over at Stories For Sunday with his look at "Star Wars'' and the movies.
"Spotlight,'' Tom McCarthy’s telling of how the Boston Globe uncovered atrocities in the Catholic Church, was probably the best film of 2015. I didn’t bring candy to my seat when I saw it in theaters. It didn’t occur to me, like how it wouldn’t occur to me to wear a basketball jersey to a job interview.
So I wonder: If we see "The Force Awakens'' to escape reality does that mean we see "Spotlight'' to come to terms with it?
Good stuff by Jonny, as always. Go get it.
DONUT 7: BUCKS AT MAVS TONIGHT
The 17-13 Mavs play host to the Bucks tonight and almost certainly the leading storyline will include Giannis Antetokounmpo, "The Greek Freak,'' who was adored by the Dallas personnel department (led by Donnie Nelson, who knew the kid well).
Antetokounmpo is right at about 15 points/seven rebounds/three assists per game for a Bucks team that is struggling at 12-19. They tend to grind it out against you, so grinding back will be Dallas center Zaza Pachulia, who has 16 double-doubles with the Mavs this year after posting 15 double-doubles last season with the Bucks before they traded him here for "air'' last summer.
Khris Middleton and Greg Monroe are two more pound-it-out guys for Milwaukee, which especially struggles on the road. The Bucks are starting a four-game trip having lost 12 of 13 on the road and will tip tonight against a Mavs club that has beaten them five straight times.
DONUT 8: THANKS LS WEALTH STRATEGIES!
My friends Bill and Woody at LS Wealth Strategies have been absolutely vital to aiding the financial health of my family with wisdom and experience and maybe most important of all, a "bedside manner'' that keeps my sons, Nate and Tony, involved in the process and learning as we grow. My highest reccomendation to LS Wealth Strategies, who help us bring you Mavs coverage and can help you in so many ways. Please give them a click or a call (972-702-6080) when you are ready to take an important step in the right financial direction.
DONUT 9: DERON'S 'SUSTAINABILITY
Creating offensive opportunities is not a burden reserved for point guards, nor is it one that every player in the league can shoulder. Some players can create opportunities each and every offensive possession for themselves and their teammates. Dirk Nowitzki, a power forward, is one of them. Other players must simply react to opportunities.
Jason Kidd has always had the perception of a creator, but in his second stint in Dallas, it was all about reacting to what Nowitzki could create. Kidd’s initial pass in the half court offense very rarely led to an assist. He was a catch-and-shoot three-point specialist and was especially adept a moving the ball in the right direction against a scrambling defense, and Dirk has always been pretty good at forcing defenses to scramble.
So what is Deron Williams, once his hamstring allows him a full return to health? He is that "reacter,'' we theorize, and there is "Over-The-Hill Sustainability'' for Deron's teamming with Dirk ... we think. Read it here.
DONUT 10: QUOTABLE
"I can’t imagine a place where you can do more fun things than at a Texas Legends game. And we’re not even talking basketball yet — the basketball is good, too! That Food Court they have there? You can find virtually anything. A phenomenal place. I went and played in the Bounce House a little bit. They had an artificial skating rink, I skated on that a little bit. Doing that Hula-Hoop thing down at the end. It was a blast!’' — Rick Carlisle to DB.com on his recent visit to Frisco.
DONUT 11: ABOUT FRISCO
I've written extensively about the blossoming relationship between the big club and the little brother and this weekend showcased a fine example of it. DB.com reported on Saturday that rookie Justin Anderson would be assigned to Frisco for the evening ... and we surmised that it was a sign that Dallas could spare Justin because Devin Harris (hamstring) had been deemed able to to play. Devin did indeed help out in the win over the Bulls ...
... And meanwhile, Justin Anderson was able to do the same for the Legends, while helping himself as well.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
"Whatever the team needs, man." -- Chandler Parsons when asked if his increased minutes load means it's time for him to join the Mavs' starting lineup.