Are you not entertained?
The Dallas Mavericks are the worst team in basketball. They are a one-time juggernaut having reached an apex, now speeding and tumbling and spiraling back, out of control, towards a dangerously hard landing on earth. They are a ghost town, a civic embarrassment, a reason for you to engage in something besides ... these losers.
"We will try to win – always!" owner Mark Cuban told me 10 days ago ... and your response to me was 20,000 eye-roll emojis.
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But why aren't you -- we -- pleased? Isn't this precisely what we've been asking for for a half-decade now? Didn't we promise that we would happily tolerate this temporary pain (ignoring DB.com warnings about just how trying those 11- and 13-win seasons back in the 1990's really were) because there is surely a pot of gold at the end of this blurry and muted rainbow?
We lied to ourselves and to each other, of course. Just as we lied leading up to the 2011 championship, when we promised that we would sell our souls and never ask for anything again if Dallas could just win a title.
Dallas won the title and all we did in response, really, because were human, was ... demand another title.
We didn't get what we wanted then, post-2011, but we are getting what we said we wanted now. The Mavericks are 3-13 having downed the Pelicans on Sunday (game coverage here) but only after finishing one of the most grueling weeks in franchise history.
Monday against the Spurs. Wednesday against the Clippers. Friday against the Cavaliers.
And never, not for a quarter, not for a minute, not for a second, did you think your Boys in Blue we're going to win.
We figured that with youth would come hope. We are, for the moment, wrong, and not even with youth comes youth, as two relatively newcomers to the NBA world who find themselves at the top of this rotation, Salah Mejri and Jonathan Gibson, will both be age 30-plus by next fall. A true building block, Harrison Barnes, is just 24. But with Dirk Nowitzki on your roster, your roster isn't going to average out as "young'' and indeed, I believe Dallas is one of the five "oldest'' rosters in the NBA.
We figured that with Rick Carlisle would come stability and while the Mavs have that at the top of the organization (even with some slappies wondering if Carlisle should be on the "hot seat''), a great locker-room challenge in this last half-decade has been keeping engaged guys who knew they were simply rent-a-player place-holders for whenever LeBron or Paul or DeAndre or Conley/Whiteside got here to take their locker stalls.
We figured that Dallas would've finally figured out that maybe an all-eggs-in-basket free-agency push didn't have to mean the complete dismissal of the importance of the NBA Draft, a lesson that can forever be taught with two haunting words:
"Giannis'' and "Antetokounmpo.''
I believe that lesson has been learned, but it will take time to manifest itself in the real world. Part of the manifestation will have to arrive with a true evaluation of where Dallas is as an organization, as a team, and in the standings. Cuban is technically correct when he says the Mavs are "six games out of the No. 8 spot in the West.'' But he's wrong to think it's "just six games,'' because to actually pull off such a leapfrog, Dallas would:
1) Have to overtake seven other teams. Meaning, Dallas would have to get sizzling-hot while seven teams go ice-cold.
2) Have to, in order to reach the .500 mark that is generally what it takes to be a No. 8 seed in the West, go 38-28 the rest of the way.
3) Get rewarded by opposing the Warriors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, leading to a quick ouster.
I am almost always an advocate of "Get To The Tournament.'' And even now, I'm not saying Carlisle and Company shouldn't try. Salah Mejri and Jonathan Gibson should try their damnedest, and Dirk should continue to take good care of that sore Achilles, and Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut should continue to start when healthy (and be showcased for trade. (Deron trade info is here; info on a Bogut to Celtics idea is here.)
In the meantime, why are we bitching?
The Mavs are not good. Many of you have been saying "The Mavs are not good'' for half-a-decade. Many of you have been saying you WANT "The Mavs to not be good'' for half-a-decade so rewards could be reaped.
And yet ... look at us.
Fire Carlisle. Boycott Donnie. Draw-and-quarter Cuban.
But before we do ... Remember what you once promised yourself, remember what you once asked for, remember those 50-win seasons and those trio of conference title series and those two NBA Finals appearances and that glorious championship and what many of us must understand about Isaac Newton and gravity: "What goes up must come down.'' There are exceptions to that in professional sports, but only a few, and it's moot to discuss the Spurs or the Patriots here, because they seem to be the exceptions while you are subject to the rule.
Shame on the organically-tanking Mavs for being a bad basketball team? Yeah, because being bad is shameful, even when it is inevitable and maybe even necessary.
Shame on us for being bad basketball fans? Yeah, that, too, if we continue to angrily shake our hypocritical fists at the inevitable and maybe even the necessary.