Category: Dallas Mavericks (Page 1 of 7)


The Mavericks’ incredible playoff run came to a brutal close in Boston last night, but it doesn’t take away from what was one of the top three or four seasons in Dallas basketball history. Getting to the NBA Finals as a #5 seed is accomplishment enough. Watching the Mavs breeze through the first three rounds of the playoffs reminded me of the 1987-88 team that came out of nowhere to take the Showtime Lakers of Kareem and Magic to a seventh game in the Western Conference Finals. That’s how much fun this was. The whole thing was delightfully shocking. It ended last night against an historically dominant Celtics team but, while it stings today, it doesn’t diminish what the Mavs did, where they are, and where they’re going.

The Mavericks have the plan and they have most of the pieces. They have arguably the best player on the planet, who is only 25 and determined to do whatever it takes to win a title. Like Dirk before him, Luka’s defense and details will only get better. They have the twin towers of Lively and Gafford flying all over both rims. They have a surprisingly mature Kyrie Irving who, most nights, can create and finish like nobody else and is becoming a legitimate leader in the locker room. They have a true scoring forward in P.J. Washington. They have hustling role players like Jones and Green and Maxi. They need a little more time together and a little more experience. Maybe one more lock-down defensive forward and one more true threat from three. The Mavs will be the favorites to come out of the West again next year, along with Denver and OKC.

You don’t just come out of nowhere and win a championship. What the Texas Rangers did last year almost never happens. The Mavs are in the middle of the journey. And it’s heading in a really fun direction.


“We now see young evangelicals walking away from evangelicalism not because they do not believe what the church teaches, but because they believe the church does not believe what the church teaches.” ~Russell Moore, Why the Church is Losing the Next Generation, 2021

My friend Josh Ross, the Lead Minister at the Sycamore View Church in Memphis, has published a little book on how to navigate an election season without losing our Christian witness. The book is titled Coreology and outlines six core principles to keep followers of our Lord Jesus from blowing our credibility with a watching world. As Josh writes in the introduction, “Much of life is how we react to people, situations, and circumstances; but if one’s faith is only a reactionary faith, maturity and growth can only go so far. A vibrant faith is a faith that prepares through practices, disciplines, intentionality, and strategic action.”

Josh believes it is “extremely difficult, if not impossible, to shine the light of Christ in places we have cancelled, neglected, or view as the enemy.” In other words, as I stated in a recent sermon, “If we hate them, we’ll never save them.” Josh’s motivation for writing Coreology are similar to mine for reading it and sharing it with you here. As he outlines near the end of his introduction:

~ I don’t want us to confuse where our overall allegiance lies
~ I don’t want us to spend valuable energy fighting the wrong fights
~ I don’t want us to create enemies with people who are not enemies of God
~ I don’t want us to lose–or blow–our witness
~ I don’t want our hearts to become hard or our love to grow cold

Josh’s plea is that we “root our motives, intentions, passions, and desires in what it means to be Kingdom people above all things.”

Some of us have swallowed a horrific lie that the salvation of the United States somehow depends on electing the right politicians. We’re following, supporting, and defending government officials and candidates who are telling us the preservation of the Church depends on the platform of a certain party. Many of us are campaigning and picketing, screaming and yelling, insulting and fighting right alongside everyone else for a particular party or candidate, all of which is decidedly un-Christian behavior.

We are a Kingdom people. We have a King, one King, and we don’t divide our loyalties with any other. We have a polis, a community, brought together across all national boundaries and language barriers and culture differences as one Body of Christ. We are guided by the Kingdom’s politics, the rules our King sets forth to govern how we get along with one another, how we treat others, and how we accomplish his will for the world he loves. Those politics are not based on power, control, wealth, division, and violence; they are eternally grounded in love and grace, sacrifice and service, unity and submission and mercy. The kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of our Lord are two completely different things and their politics are totally incompatible.

That brings us back to Josh’s book.

We’re going to use this space over the next several days to explore all six of Josh’s principles:

~ I will daily confess that Jesus is the Lord of my life and nothing else is
~ I will create and honor regular spiritual practices that remind me of my devotion to Jesus
~ I will resist allowing any media outlet to become the primary way I think about culture and the world
~ I will strive to become a peacemaker
~ I will practice hospitality as a way to learn, grow, and invest in other people
~ I will choose to regularly serve others

We’ll carefully summarize Josh’s thoughts as outlined in his book and then share some of our own.

Until then, this quote from the book’s introduction which I, too, have used in several places since it was first written in 2020:

“When Christians–regardless of political leanings–behave like jerks and justify our behavior at all costs because of our ideological convictions, we bear false witness to Jesus Christ.” ~ Eugene Cho, Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk, 2020



Bad Day to Be a Tree

I was sitting at their kitchen table early Saturday morning, drinking my Diet Dr Pepper and reading about the Mavericks’ Game Four blowout, when my son-in-law Collin came around the corner and proclaimed, “It’s a bad day to be a tree!”

Carrie-Anne and I were visiting Carley and Collin at their home in Flower Mound as part of a longer trip to see my parents in East Texas. My three siblings and our spouses all met up in Liberty City Friday to surprise our folks with a barbecue lunch to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. The mini-vacation turned into a work trip when, three weeks ago, the incessant rains and windstorms in DFW took out a massive tree cluster in Carley and Collin’s back yard.








There were five trees growing out of one massive stump in the corner of their yard where their property meets their neighbors’. Each of the trees had been growing since the early ’80s and were between 30-40 feet tall. The saturated ground finally turned them loose, destroying three fence posts and two sections of fence panel and ripping out a main sprinkler system line. One of the trees landed in the neighbors yard, one took out another fence post and two more panels, two fell into their massive Magnolia tree, and one rested against the corner of their house.








Collin and I took it all down and out on Saturday with a 14-inch chainsaw and a machete. We only suffered two “mishaps” and one near-death experience. The scariest part was getting on and off their roof with only a six-foot step ladder. The fun part was bonding together over our shared tree-annihilating prowess. The longest part was the clean-up. Carrie-Anne and Carley joined us to haul every bit of it to the front curb where the City of Flower Mound assures us it’ll be picked up soon.

Following a brief recovery and some cold showers, we ate a wonderful dinner together at Mi Cocina at The Star in Frisco and then took in the RoughRiders game at the Frisco ballpark. The RoughRiders were hosting the Amarillo Sod Poodles, so C-A and I embraced our mixed loyalties and enjoyed the whole experience.








We were especially blessed to worship with Collin and Carley at their church in Flower Mound Sunday morning before they treated me to my favorite Father’s Day lunch: the Buffalo chicken tenders at Cheddar’s.

It was a beautiful weekend all the way around. Fabulous. For everybody except that tree.


If I were still making predictions about the NBA Finals, I’d say something about how the Celtics don’t have any pressure on them tonight in Game Five. Sure, the Mavs exploded Friday and destroyed Boston in Dallas, finally looking like the team that breezed through the first three rounds. Yes, Luka set the tone by refusing to complain to the refs and by embracing his defensive responsibilities and the rest of the team followed. Absolutely, it looks like the Mavs have finally figured it out. But it’s too late. Dallas can’t win four straight. Jayson Tatum admitted as much yesterday, saying something like, “It would be nice to close this out at home, but we don’t have to win Monday. Monday is not a must win. We only have to win one of the next three. There’s no pressure on us.”

Okay. There’s no pressure on either team tonight. Boston is expected to win to complete the “Gentlemen’s Sweep,” and Dallas is expected to lose the series, if not tonight, then certainly on Thursday.

But what if the Mavericks win a close one tonight? It’s possible, especially if Porzingas is not out there for the Celtics. Everything is clicking now for Dallas in their last five quarters. Kyrie has found his shot. Gafford and Lively have found the rim. Luka is not messing around. There’s an energy now they were really lacking in the first two-and-a-half games. What if they win tonight?

Now, it’s 3-2 and the series shifts back to Dallas and ALL the pressure is on Boston. The Celtics CAN’T lose Game Six because that would force a Game Seven and NOBODY wants a Game Seven because anything can happen in a Game Seven. If this thing comes back to Dallas, who is the pressure on? Not Dallas!

If I were still making predictions, I’d pick the Celtics in a tight one tonight to win their record 18th NBA championship. But if Dallas wins tonight, nobody’s trusting anybody’s predictions anymore.

Go Mavs.


Mavs Taking Big D to Boston

The NBA Finals begin tonight in Boston and the pick here is Dallas in six games over the Celtics. I know this is Boston’s second trip to the Finals in three years and the Mavs’ first appearance since they won it all back in 2011. I know the Mavericks have that one lone championship compared to the 17 banners that are hanging in the Boston Garden. I know the Celtics finished the regular season with the NBA’s top record and the Mavs squeaked in as a number five seed. Boston has home court advantage and they are the favorite. But…

The Celtics will be powerless against the Dallas D.

Luka and Kyrie will get their points. Duh. Boston sports fans are notoriously some of the worst in the world, right up there with Philly. They’re going to be rabid and profane, cursing and slurring and going non-stop to get under Luka’s skin and to rattle Kyrie. What they might not know is that the Mavs’ superstar guards absolutely thrive in that kind of atmosphere. Being heckled and booed brings out the best in those two. Never mind that Luka and Doncic are two of the most cold-blooded closeout killers in NBA history. Luka will average 30 points in this series and Kyrie more than 25. And they will silence that Boston crowd with long-distance threes and left-handed reverse layups all night long.

Maxi Kleber is healthy again and will stretch the floor with a few clutch threes. Hardy has grown in confidence and feel for the game throughout these playoffs and provides important work in the offensive paint. P.J. has become the emotional catalyst for the Mavs, a fierce competitor who wins every battle for a 50-50 ball. And Kidd’s pulling all the right strings.

But the main reason I like Dallas is their Big D. I know what Tyson Chandler did for the Mavs to help win it all in 2011. But the Mavericks have never had a couple of rim-rockers like Lively and Gafford. Never. They defend the rim like no other team–Dallas has more blocked shots through three rounds of the playoffs than all the other playoff teams combined. And the guards can lob a pass from anywhere on the floor and Lively or Gafford will get it and cram it home with authority. I know how talented those Boston guards are. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are skilled scorers and they have their own chips on their shoulders and plenty to prove. But they’re going to have to do it from outside. The paint will be closed to Boston this whole series. The rebounding edge belongs to the Mavs. And if the outside shots aren’t falling for the Celtics, Dallas could very well run away with it.

Here’s a hype video to get you ready for Game One tonight. The images in this video are compelling, but with Kermit the Frog as narrator, it’s not quite as satisfying as it could be.

Go Mavs.


A Matter of Relevance

The number of times each professional team in Dallas has played in a conference/league championship game/series since 1995:

Dallas Stars – 7
Dallas Mavericks – 5
Texas Rangers – 3
Dallas Cowboys – 0

They Need Each Other

If you had told me ten months ago that Kyrie Irving would be the mentor and role model I would want influencing Luka Doncic, I would have assumed you know absolutely nothing about the Dallas Mavericks or basketball in general.

Today, I would agree with you. We are living in an upside-down world, my friends.

With the little Mavericks headed to the NBA Finals after demolishing the Timberwolves in the Twin Cities, it seems to me that we’re watching a fluky, out-of-nowhere, miracle explosion of unexpected chemistry and talent. The Mavericks didn’t even make the playoffs last year. They were 26-23 on February 23. That’s one of the things that makes this so fun. Dallas has dispatched the 51-win Clippers, the top-seeded 57-win Thunder, and the second-seeded 56-win Wolves to advance to the NBA’s biggest stage. And I believe the foundation and the driving force behind the surprising success is that Luka and Kyrie need each other. They really need each other.

Every conversation about the best player in the NBA includes Luka somewhere in the first two sentences. He’s a deadly scorer, a triple-double machine, and a cold-blooded competitor. He’s well on his way to becoming a top-three guy in every NBA all-time offensive category. He’s going to give you several jaw-dropping shots every night. But he’s sometimes very hard to root for. No other player in my memory spends so much time after every single shot, every single trip down the floor, complaining to the referees. Griping. Pleading. Rolling his eyes. Racking up technical fouls. Luka, you’re maybe the best player on the planet! Please, get back and play defense! I’m not a fan of his on-court vocabulary. Some words are super easy to lip-read and those are the ones Doncic typically chooses. The way he lashed out at Rudy Gobert after his game-winning three in Game Two, the way he curses at opponents’ fans who are trying to get under his skin — he might wind up being a better player than Dirk, but Luka will never be the humble, gentlemanly, beloved Hall of Famer from Wurzburg who spoiled us so. And maybe he doesn’t have to be. Maybe it’s okay to bask in Luka’s brilliance and marvel at his talent and leave it at that.

Kyrie’s issues are well documented. He’s been his own worst enemy with his crazy flat earth theories and anti-vaccine conspiracies and anti-Semitic videos and selfish attitude. He’s been the opposite of a team player. He’s blown up several locker rooms and destroyed some pretty decent team mojo over the years. When the Mavs traded for Kyrie and got him at a bargain basement price because nobody else wanted him, I decried it as the last straw in Mark Cuban’s litany of bad basketball moves. You’re going to ruin this generational talent in Luka by pairing him with Irving. Both these guys operate as point guards. Both of them create their own openings and shots. Both of them are scorers first. And Kyrie’s attitude is going to rub off and make Doncic worse than he already is. This whole thing is going to blow up, the Mavs will miss the playoffs, Luka will want out, and it’s over.

Seems like a long time ago.

How in the world is this happening?

I think Luka and Kyrie need each other.

Luka needed an older guy on the team with just as much talent as his. Someone he could respect, someone he could look to, someone he could relate to as an equal, a peer in ability and drive. Luka needs somebody to give him advice, to calm his down, to remind him of big picture objectives, to mentor him. But that somebody had to be a player he’d listen to. Someone just as good as him.

Kyrie needed a younger guy to mentor. He needed someone who valued his experience and his talent and would listen to him, make him feel like the player-coach he thinks he is. He needs to feel important, like he’s contributing to something bigger than himself, like he’s passing something on that matters. Kyrie would only give of himself in that way to someone he could respect as an equal in skill and competitive drive. He wouldn’t waste any of that on someone who wouldn’t appreciate it or be able to duplicate it. It has to be someone just as good as him.

Luka and Kyrie need each other. Once they figured that out, they’ve put the Mavericks on their shoulders and turned them into the best team in the NBA.

They don’t defer to one another like they did a year ago, they complement each other. They’re not walking on eggshells, anymore, they’re both stomping through these playoffs in perfect sync. Luka draining threes from the edge of the logo and Kyrie finishing with a reverse left-handed layup down low. Kyrie drawing a double-team so Luka can lob one up for a Gafford slam and Luka actually playing defense! Luka with steals and blocks! It’s not a coincidence that they each finished with 36 points last night on 14 made shots. It’s art. They trust each other, they feed off each other, they push each other.

They need each other.

Now, that they’ve got each other, nobody’s going to stop ’em.



Worship Rules

Jason Robertson got the playoff hatty last night as the Dallas Stars came from behind to beat Edmonton 5-3 in Game Three of the Western Conference Final. It had been ten games since Robo tickled the twine, but he found the back of the net three times at Rogers Center to propel the Stars to a two-games-to-one series lead. Well, he found the back of the net twice; his third goal was pushed/crammed/willed through Skinner’s right pad and skate to complete the hat trick. The Stars fell behind 2-0 in the first period–we’ve seen this before–and then scored three goals in a 3:33 span in the second period to take the lead. Welcome back, Roope Hintz, who assisted on two of Robertson’s goals. Having Hintz back sure clears up a lot of room for Robertson to operate.

The brooms will be out at AAC tonight as the Mavericks are one win away from the NBA Finals for the first time since they won the whole thing in 2011. If Dallas can complete the sweep and knock out the T-Wolves this evening, it’ll be the first time in NBA history that both conference championship rounds were decided in four games. Boston eliminated the Pacers last night, winning the Eastern Conference four-games-to-none. No Dereck Lively tonight–he’s out with the sprained neck he suffered in Sunday’s game–so there’s a whole lot more riding on Gafford’s play in the paint. I don’t think Maxi Klieber returns from his injury tonight. I think the Mavs do the best they can with a combination of Gafford and Dwight Powell, put Minnesota out of its misery, and then take the full eight days between now and the start of the Finals to get both Maxi and Lively fully healthy for the Celtics. Dallas’ extraordinary depth is being tested now. The Timberwolves are going to take everything to the rim tonight and attempt to bully the Mavs. This is going to be an ugly low-scoring game tonight. And Dallas is going to win it.


I’ve said in this space and from the pulpit here at GCR several times lately that we need to be less concerned about how we do church and more concerned with how God does church. We should relax about our rules and stop worrying about our methods and submit to what God’s Spirit is doing. Instead of fretting about how we do church and debating whether we’re doing it right or wrong, we should just chill.

Well, hold on, preacher! The Bible seems to care about what we can and cannot do during church! The guy who wrote a third of the New Testament laid down a few rules about our Sunday assemblies!

Okay. If you insist. Let’s go there.

I’m assuming you’re thinking about that troubled church in Corinth and the letter Paul wrote to correct their mistakes.

The apostle Paul knows that what we do when we’re together shapes us. Our habits in our worship assemblies are forming us into a particular kind of people. So, Paul’s main concern is that our worship gatherings reflect the Gospel. Our Christian assemblies have to reflect the character of Christ. When he writes to other churches, he expresses his deep desire that Christ be formed in them, that they imitate Christ Jesus who said himself he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life for others. Paul says being united with Christ, having the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, means considering others better than yourselves, looking to the needs of others.

So, yeah, he spills a lot of ink in his letter to the Corinthians to fix what they’re doing wrong.

In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says your meetings are doing more harm than good. How harsh is that? It’s brutal. Your church is so bad, your people would be better off if they just slept in on Sundays. Paul says your church is divided. You’ve got cliques and little groups among you and I see it around the table. When you come together, he writes, it’s not the Lord’s Supper you eat; you are eating your own supper! You’re not waiting for others, you’re not sharing God with others; people are going hungry, people are being humiliated; the rich Christians are getting stuffed and drunk and the poor Christians are starving and being singled out as not really belonging. What am I supposed to say to you? Nothing good! So, then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. Consider the needs of each other. Treat one another as equals.

That’s Paul’s consistent instruction when it comes to what happens in church: consider the others, pay attention to the others, put yourself last.

These Corinthians Christians were showing off their spiritual gifts. They were clamoring for the spotlight in their assemblies and looking down on others based on their spiritual gifts. In chapter 12, Paul says the gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good, they’re supposed to benefit everybody, not just you. In fact, he writes in chapter 14, since you’re so eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in the gifts that build up the church.

What’s the problem with speaking in tongues? Well, sometimes there’s no interpreter and nobody knows what you’re saying and it’s not doing anybody any good but yourself. And sometimes y’all are talking over each other, trying to upstage each other, and it’s a mess. You’re not thinking about others. So, brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. Take turns. Speak one at a time. And if you don’t have an interpreter, don’t speak (sigao) until you get one.

Same thing with prophesy. Take turns. Speak one at a time. Why? What’s the point? So that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. And if you’re speaking and someone else has something to add, the one speaking should stop speaking (sigao) until it’s his or her turn again.

Same thing with women. They were evidently disrupting the gatherings; they, too, were speaking out of turn. Paul uses the same Greek word for stop speaking, sigao. Be quiet until it’s appropriate to speak. Put yourself last. Consider others more important than yourself.

Paul didn’t say stop eating, do away with all the meals. He said, when you come together to eat, be nice to others, treat everyone as equals.

He didn’t say stop speaking in tongues. He said, when you speak in tongues, be considerate of others.

He didn’t say stop prophesying. He said, when you prophesy, take turns. Be polite.

He didn’t tell women to stop praying and prophesying. He said, women, when you pray and prophesy, do it like this. Don’t offend people. Don’t elevate yourself.

So, yes, you’re right. The Bible does give us strict rules about our Sunday worship assemblies. And they’re all centered around treating people the way Jesus treats people. That’s it. Those are the worship rules in the Bible.

We worry about our Sunday mornings. We’re anxious to do everything right. Instead of worrying about whether a worship practice is prescribed or legal, we should be asking if what we do and the way we do it fosters community and equips us for mission. Applying the Gospel to our assemblies is much more important than trying to get it right. Do we value all people? Do we treat everybody the same? Are we striving to make everybody feel welcome and like they belong? Are all people loved in here?

None of the New Testament gives us a set of legally specified and timeless rules for conducting a worship assembly. The New Testament gives us Jesus and the Gospel, embodied by a community, and gathered by the Holy Spirit around word and table, where every person can experience and express the Good News freely and equally, in the name and manner of our Lord Jesus.



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