Category: Dallas Mavericks (page 1 of 5)

Meet Luka Doncic!

The Dallas Mavericks young superstar, Luka Doncic, was in the middle of an unbelievable 3rd quarter yesterday.  He was leading his team on a 16-0 run, accounting for more points in that period ( 13 points, 5 assists) than the entire L.A. Clippers team combined. He was fueling a crazy comeback, bringing the Mavs from 21 down to leading by eight. I texted our youth minister, Josh Jones:

“Luka is cementing his legacy on national TV!”

Doncic was not even expected to play in this game. A badly sprained ankle suffered 40 hours earlier in Game Three was probably going to keep him sidelined for this do-or-die affair. But there he was, limping through another incredible performance, notching another 40-point playoff triple-double, bringing his team back against all odds, going three-for-three on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the overtime period, and lofting a breath-taking buzzer-beater over a flailing Reggie Jackson to win the game and tie the series.

By now you’ve seen the shot multiple times. It’s classic Luka. Four dribbles, one between the legs, a step back beyond the arc on the left wing and BANG! Or, as NBC play-by-play announcer Mike Breem announced as the ball swished through the net 28-feet away, “BANG! BANG!”

If you didn’t know who Luka Doncic was 24 hours ago — and I’m talking about sports fans AND non-sports fans — you do now.

He scored 43 points yesterday, grabbed 17 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists for his second consecutive playoff triple-double. No one in NBA history has ever produced those numbers in a playoff game. Ever. Three games earlier, Luka had broken George Mikan’s NBA record for the most points ever scored in a playoff debut with 42. Now he’s only the third player in NBA history to rack up 40 points and at least 15 rebounds and ten assists in a playoff game. You may have heard of the other two: Oscar Robertson and Charles Barkley.

Luka is the youngest player in NBA history to hit a game-winning buzzer-beater in the playoffs. He’s the youngest to notch a 40 point playoff triple-double. And he did it on one leg! Without his sidekick, Kristaps Porzingas, who was a game-time scratch with his sore knee.

This Euro-stepping, lane-driving, bubble-bombing kid is so much fun to watch. And his numbers are other-worldly. He’s already accomplished more than any other player in league history at this age. Name them. All of them. Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. LeBron James. Luka is further along right now at 21-1/2 years old than any of them were. But as Mark Cuban said last night, we shouldn’t compare Doncic to any other players; he’s blazing his own trail.

This is Luka’s world. We just live in it.

I’ve long held a theory that the main thing separating the great players in the professional leagues from the good ones is not talent, but mental toughness. Once football players make it to the NFL or basketball players to the NBA, they are all pretty equal in ability. They have all been the very best among their peers from little league to middle school and through high school. They’ve always been the most talented in their cities. In college, they stand out as better than all their peers across the country or even around the world. Once they make it to the NHL or MLB, generally speaking, they all possess the same talents and skills, they’re all equipped the same. What separates Michael Jordan from Michael Anderson is heart. What elevates Emmitt Smith over Alex Smith is guts.

Who’s going to overcome injury and perform at a high level? Who’s going to show up early for practice and leave late? Who’s got the drive? Who wants the ball in the clutch? Who will play with a complete fearlessness and a supreme confidence? Who’s going to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes? That’s what separates the great ones.

And Doncic has it. All of it.

Not only were the Mavs down 2-1 in the series, down their second-leading scorer in the sidelined Porzingas, and down by 21-points in the second quarter, Luka was down a left ankle. Not only did Dallas fight and claw their way back to actually lead it by a dozen, the Clippers scored ten of the last twelve points in regulation to force the overtime. And the lead changed eight times in the extra period. But Luka and the cast around him kept fighting and pulled off the biggest playoff comeback in the team’s 40-year history.

They may not win another game this series. The whole “bubble” thing is making this the most unpredictable postseason in NBA history. They may win the whole thing! The Mavericks are building something around this kid that will yield multiple championships — I’m guessing at least two titles beginning in June 2022. He may be on his way to surpassing Dirk, Roger, Troy, Nolan, and Modano as the most prolific and beloved single-name sports heroes in Dallas. And we’ll always remember August 23, 2020 against the Clippers as the day the entire planet met Luka Doncic.

Go Stars.

Allan

Equality

I have plenty of hot and spicy tea to spill today after the Mavericks blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead and lost in overtime to the Rockets in last night’s NBA restart in Orlando. With Luka and KP, Dallas is poised to contend for multiple championships over the next ten years. The team is young and talented, the bench is deep and versatile, Carlisle obviously knows how to coach, and this version of the Mavs is so stinkin’ fun to watch. They’re going to be in the mix to hoist the O’Brien trophy every year for the foreseeable future. Just not this year.

There’s very little interior defense. There’s a tendency to stand around and watch the two superstars. They still haven’t learned how to hold a lead. And they melt down on basics and fundamentals at the worst times. They still need another season or so of experience and seasoning before they’re going to win this thing.

Dallas mostly controlled last night’s game with double-digit leads throughout the second half. They had a seven point lead with 45-seconds to play. But a simple box out and rebound on a missed free throw with three seconds remaining in regulation wasn’t executed and the resulting tip-in tied the game and the Mavs were out of gas. Houston went on an 8-1 run in those 45-seconds and then ran away with it in the extra period.

Last night’s disappointing come-from-ahead loss likely means the Mavericks will face the top-seeded Lakers or the second-seeded Clippers in the first round of the playoffs instead of the Jazz or OKC. Dallas went from moving up in the standings to staying put. And it’s going to prove to be disastrous.

But wasn’t it fun?

Luka’s routine triple-double. KP’s silky smooth dominance. Hardeway’s leadership. Curry’s tenacity. And where did Trey Burke come from?!?

And the “Equality” jerseys. What a great touch. When every other NBA player is customizing his own jersey and coming up with his own personal racial justice slogan, the Mavericks decided to all wear the same word. What a powerful statement and what a positive move for individualism taking a back seat to team unity.

I feel so good about this Dallas Mavericks team.

Next year.

Peace,

Allan

Dirk Owns Dallas

The Big German owns Big D.

Dirk Nowitzki took out a full page ad in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News to say “Thank You” to Mavericks fans and to the city after 21 Hall of Fame years in Dallas. It’s a rare kind of letter from a professional superstar athlete of Dirk’s caliber. Humble. Grateful. Selfless. Sincere.  Reflective. Kind. Two DMN sportswriters have confirmed that Dirk worked on this letter for a couple of weeks; these are all his words; it’s not ghost-written. And you can tell it’s from his heart.

Dirk could run for mayor of Dallas and win it today. When it comes to Dallas sports, he’s in an exclusive club with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Staubach, of course, is in a class all by himself. He spent his entire career with the Cowboys, he won two Super Bowls in Dallas, he was a model citizen and team player, and he made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For the past 39 years and for the next 39 years, Staubach could run for Governor of Texas or the U.S. Senate and win it immediately. He’s that beloved in Dallas and throughout the state. Aikman also spent his entire career with the Cowboys , he won three Super Bowls, he was a model citizen and team player, and he also made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For some reason — somebody help me articulate this — it doesn’t feel like Aikman’s in the exact same category as Staubach. But he’s close. Right there with Dirk.

Mike Modano’s not in that class. He won a Stanley Cup as the face of the franchise with the Stars in 1999. Model citizen and team player, advocate for the sport and the city, but he finished his career in Detroit. And it’s hockey.

The very nature of baseball means nobody’s going to play their entire career with the Rangers. Plus, the Rangers have never won a championship. Nolan Ryan could be governor of Texas whenever he wants, but he doesn’t own Dallas. Jim Sundberg and Pudge Rodriguez could make the Dallas city council, but they don’t own the city. Besides, they played all their home games in Tarrant County.

Am I missing somebody? I think it’s Staubach, Aikman, Dirk. In that order. Does anybody else in Dallas sports belong in that group?

Peace,

Allan

Back from Chicago

I spent Saturday through Wednesday in Chicago on another of these nine quarterly retreats with Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Community. And while Mary and Hannah and I did some really great things up there, I’m struggling to get caught up with all the really cool things we missed here at home.

We always try to work in a fun event or two in Chicago as a needed balance to the oftentimes difficult self-reflection and introspection that happens on these retreats. We’ve been to a White Sox game, we’ve taken in the architectural boat tour (a lot more fun than it sounds), we’ve been to Harry Carey’s restaurant, and we’ve done the Bean downtown, Grant Park, and a comedy club. This time around we scheduled two things: the Chicago art museum and Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know we had to get a picture with the Ferris Bueller painting and Hannah had to get reprimanded more than once for getting too close to the art. And then Tuesday we hooked up with Grace, who lives in California, and Phil, who lives in another part of Texas — they’ve both become great friends — and saw “Hamilton” together at the historic downtown Chicago CIBC Theatre. The words came way too fast for me, but what a show! I wish I could see it again because I know I missed a bunch of funny, clever lines. The moving stage, the creative writing, the over-the-top performances, the comedy, the history — very impressive!

So, while we were away, Virginia topped Texas Tech in overtime to win the national championship. That’s fine. Nobody wanted Texas Tech to win. Except Tiffani and George. And they finished first and second in our annual Central staff bracket contest. Bragging rights and a free lunch. And, yes, Tiffani’s guns are up all year around. Heading into the Elite Eight, I was in first place and still had all four of my Final Four teams alive. I just needed Duke or Purdue or Kentucky or Gonzaga to win. Just one of those four teams. Just one more win, it didn’t matter who it was. But they all four lost and I’m watching it from a tiny TV at Lou Malnati’s Pizza in Chicago.  Good thing I had that deep dish supreme to console me. Final numbers: Tiffani-75, George-72, Kevin-71, Allan-70.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles opened up their inaugural home season in our brand new downtown ballpark on Monday. And I missed it! So we got there as fast as we could — last night — and watched our AA San Diego Padres affiliate beat the Corpus Christi Hooks in an entertaining slug fest. It was cold, too cold for baseball. But that’s always going to be Amarillo in April. It was 88-degrees on Wednesday and then 53-degrees yesterday. I’m going again Sunday when it’s supposed to be in the lower 70s. This is Whitney, Carrie-Anne, Karen, Mean Jean, Greg, and me trying to stay warm in Dale and Karen’s great seats behind home plate. What a beautiful ball park! I’m hoping to make about 30 of these games this summer.

I also missed Dirk Nowitski’s last game as a Dallas Maverick and I’ve had to go on-line to watch the stirring tribute the Spurs gave him in their arena in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. I’ve always admired the Spurs as a classy organization with a lot of pride and professionalism. We’ve all come to expect that from the Spurs. But they cranked it up a few notches for Dirk’s last game. During the introductions, they showed a video of Dirk highlights, mostly of Dirk dunking on Tim Duncan and shooting over Tony Parker and faking out Manu Ginobelli — it was a highlight reel of Dirk beating the Spurs! How really cool and unexpected! The Mavericks and Spurs are bitter Midwest Division rivals and they have played some significant games against each other over the years. There was about a ten year period there where the stakes were incredibly high every time these two teams faced off. And the highlight reel brought Nowitski to tears. And if you have a heart at all, it’ll probably choke you up, too.

Lastly — man, this is sports-heavy today — the NHL playoff season has begun and the Dallas Stars are in. Wednesday night they came from behind to beat Nashville 3-2 in the best-of-seven opener and I watched every exciting minute of it. It’s been a while for the Stars and I forgot just how intense and crazy the NHL’s second season really is. Breath-taking. Edge of your seat. So much fun. It’s border-line blasphemous to say, but NHL playoff hockey is better than football. Game two is tomorrow. Go Stars.

Peace,

Allan

Jesus Did Nothing

Tony Romo finishes his Mavericks career with a losing record and missing the playoffs. He’s still got it.

The lines between what is real and what is fake get blurrier every day. What an insult to every Mavericks player. And what a testimony to how low the bar is now for Cowboys quarterbacks. You don’t have to win a Super Bowl. Shoot, you don’t even have to win a divisional playoff game! Ever! You’re a hero!

Romo was speaking for all of us yesterday when he kept saying he was embarrassed.

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How do we move so quickly from praising our Lord to denying him? How do we go so fast from vowing to die for Christ to betraying him? The Gospels tell us that all his followers — those huge crowds that welcomed him with palm branches and shouts of loyalty — abandoned him. They went from shouting “Hosanna!” to shouting “Crucify him!” They went from showering Jesus with praise to driving nails through his hands and feet. From big, green, leafy palm branches to an old wooden cross. The apostles promised their undying allegiance to Jesus at dinner and, then, within an hour or two, maybe less, they abandoned him completely. How does that happen?

Remember the frenzy of Palm Sunday?

At last, God’s anointed King has come! The teacher and miracle-worker from Nazareth is God’s promised Messiah! Jesus will defeat the pagan rulers from Rome! He will establish the true Kingdom of God right here in our land! We’re going to regain our power! We’re going to be in control! Jesus is the Christ and he’s going to take away all our problems and he’s going to make all of us winners! Hosanna!

And there’s shouting and singing and celebration and anticipation. Huge crowds of followers surrounding Jesus on all sides, hailing him as their new king. Jesus rides through the eastern gate into the Holy City, right into the temple precincts, and he does…

…nothing.

He doesn’t do anything.

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.” ~Mark 11:11

Jesus doesn’t do anything. He doesn’t lead the mob against the Roman garrison. He doesn’t physically confront the powers and authorities that are oppressing the people. He doesn’t even take the steps of the temple to deliver a stirring speech. He looks around for a little bit and then goes back to Bethany. For dinner, I guess.

What a disappointment! What kind of Messiah is this? What sort of Savior?

Yeah, the next day Jesus preaches a sermon in the temple and overturns a few tables to illustrate his point. But he doesn’t raise a finger against the Romans. He doesn’t even raise his voice. In fact, the next day, he tells everybody, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

What?

By Friday, enough of the crowds were disappointed and disenchanted with Jesus, that the priests and teachers of the law were easily able to turn them against him. The apostles — the insiders, the personally-chosen followers of Jesus — promised to never betray him, to never leave his side, to die first. But they’re gone, too.

If you look honestly at that picture, if you pay close attention to the story, you will see yourself. You will see your sin. And it will break your heart.

Jesus doesn’t always meet our expectations. His lordship doesn’t always provide for us what we think it should provide.

Maybe there’s something broken in your marriage that Jesus hasn’t fixed. Maybe there’s a deep wound in your soul that Jesus hasn’t healed. Maybe there’s something going on in your family, a situation at work, a physical illness or disease, an addiction. Maybe. And being a Christian hasn’t really helped.

Maybe you’re all alone and Jesus hasn’t given you any friends. Maybe it feels like nothing is going right. Jesus doesn’t always provide for us what we think he should.

So, you abandon what Christ teaches, you give up on the way of the Lord, and you do things your own way. In order to gain some control, you leave Jesus, you turn your back, you drift away, or maybe you flat-out deny him.

When you see that, when you see your sin, it’ll break your heart.

I know it can feel like Jesus is doing nothing. And somebody has to do something! Jesus can’t just look around at everything, he can’t just look at my life and my struggles and my problems, and shrug his shoulders and go back to Bethany. For dinner, I guess.

Well, Jesus did do something. He did something that only he could do. He did something to finally and completely and ultimately destroy the effects of sin and death in your life and for the whole world forever.

He died. He died on a cross. On purpose.

Jesus resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem and walked to the cross. He allowed himself to be beaten and tortured. He allowed them to nail his hands and feet to the blood-soaked wood of that cross. He died willingly. He sacrificed himself. He could have called ten thousand angels. But he died alone. For you and me. That’s what Jesus came to do. The Lamb of God who dies to take away the sin of the world.

Peace,

Allan

Dirk Hits 30K

Dirk Nowitski’s name belongs now and forever way up in the rafters alongside the names of Kareem, Kobe, M.J., and Wilt. In last night’s wire-to-wire home win over the Lakers, the Big German scored his 30,000th career NBA point on his signature fade away jumper from the baseline. With a hand in his face. His typical flair for the moment captured by more than twenty thousand cell phone cameras and sealing his place among basketball’s storied immortals.

Dirk is a league MVP, a playoffs MVP, and an NBA Champion. He revolutionized the game by becoming the greatest international player in history and by creating a new position: “stretch forward.” His dedication to his craft is legendary. His work ethic and toughness are inspirational. But it’s his loyalty to the Mavericks and the city of Dallas that makes him eternally heroic.

Dirk is only the sixth player in NBA history to rack up 30,000 points. He and Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant are the only three to do it with one team. Nowitski began his career against a team that doesn’t even exist anymore: the Seattle SuperSonics. He began his career in a building that doesn’t exist anymore: Reunion Arena. But he’ll finish his twenty or twenty-one year career with the Mavericks. In Dallas. And for that, he’ll own the city for as long as he lives.

He’s Roger Staubach in shorts and high tops. He could run for Mayor of Dallas tomorrow or fifteen years from now and win. He’s Dallas royalty. He’s lived and died with the Mavericks and their fans. He’s suffered through lottery seasons and won championships. He’ll be cutting ribbons and raising money and serving on boards and advocating for the city for the rest of his life. He can do no wrong in Big D. Forever.

And it’s legitimate.

Kevin Durant could have had the exact same thing in OKC. But he chose to chase rings in Oakland with the guys who beat his Thunder. And he may never recover. I don’t see a LeBron-Cleveland reunion culminating in a title and renewed hero status for K.D. and Oklahoma City.

There’s something noble about staying with your team, remaining with your city, battling year in and year out, experiencing the highs and lows, working hard to build something and accomplish something, regardless of the changing circumstances around you. Dirk has done that and he’s achieved the great status he deserves.

And he’s just so stinkin’ likeable. Who doesn’t love Dirk?

I remember in 2004 or 2005 when Dirk became an on-line relationship advice columnist for a local Dallas paper. It was a promotional thing, kind of clever, but it was a joke. Everybody was making fun of it, and, true to his nature, he was having a good time with it. My talk show producer, Eric Gray, and I wanted to record a bit in which we would ask Dirk to give us advice for our troubled on-air relationship, to help us with the interpersonal problems we were having. It was a gag. A big joke. The questions were loaded for laughs and Dirk agreed to do it. We were in a crunch for time — the Mavs were leaving for a four game road trip — and if we didn’t record the bit after the next home game it would be two weeks before we could try it again.

So, the day of the game we set it up with Dirk to record the fake interview afterwards.

And they lost.

I can’t remember who they played. I can’t remember if they lost at the buzzer or got blown out. But they were expected to win and they got beat. The locker room was quiet. The mood was sour. Nobody was making jokes or laughing.

And after we all finished with our official interviews and the locker room had mostly cleared out, we approached Dirk about the relationship advice bit. He remembered. I told him we could wait and do it another time. But he said, “Y’all need it tonight, don’t you?” We did. And he did it.

It wasn’t great. He wasn’t in a good mood. We asked the silly questions and he tried to be funny with us. He tried. And it didn’t really work. We wound up not using it because it didn’t turn out right. It was forced. But he still went through with it. He tried. And he didn’t have to. That’s the kind of guy Dirk is. Friendly. Funny. Never takes himself too seriously. And true to his word, regardless of changing circumstances.

People ask me all the time if I miss covering sports for Dallas radio. The answer is that I miss being there for the big moments. I was on the ice and in the dressing room with Mike Modano and Derian Hatcher when the Stars won those two Western Conference Championships. I was on the sidelines and in the locker room when Emmitt Smith surpassed Walter Payton as the leading rusher in NFL history. John Wetteland poured champagne down my shirt in the Rangers clubhouse when they clinched the division in ’99. And I was there when Dirk lost the tooth in that playoff game against the Jazz and then led the Mavs to an improbable victory and the series win. I was there for all those Western Conference Championship Series games against the Kings and the Spurs. I’ve had political conversations with Steve Nash, I’ve been the target of a sarcastic comment from Shawn Bradley, I’ve played three-on-three hoops with Donnie Nelson and Derek Harper, and I’ve had Don Nelson threaten to kick me out of his office during a misunderstanding. I’ve been chewed out by Johnny Oates and apologized to by Buck Showalter. I’ve gotten into a nationally-televised argument about two-point conversions with Bill Parcells and I’ve watched an episode of Seinfeld with Pierre Turgeon before a playoff game. I miss the access, maybe.

I don’t miss the travel. I certainly don’t miss the late nights and the lost weekends. I don’t miss the pressure of getting all those sound bites from all those teams and cutting all that tape and putting together all those sportscasts.

But I wish I could have been there last night.

Peace,

Allan

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