Category: Dallas Mavericks (page 1 of 5)

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?



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.



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.


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…


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.”


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.



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.



Younger Every Day

“Inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16

If the apostle Paul is right — I’m betting my life on it — then you and I are actually getting younger every day. By the grace of God and the power of his Spirit, we are more refreshed, more energetic, more joyful today than we were yesterday.

We’re all in the youth group!

With that in mind, our whole Central church family got together Wednesday night for our annual Fall Festival. Everybody’s always invited. It’s an intergenerational, church-wide deal. And we do our best to get everybody — young and old — to the party.









If hot dogs and cotton candy are not your thing, maybe karaoke is. If singing a pop song over a cheesy soundtrack doesn’t interest you, maybe judging jack o’ lanterns and Halloween costumes is. If you don’t have a judgmental spirit, maybe you’d rather help with a booth or pass out candy. If none of that floats your boat, then we go ahead and play the ultimate trump card:

The family is getting together to show the kids a good time. You’re part of the family.


FallFestSteve&JudyIt’s always good to just show up and cut loose for a bit. You can encourage the children by telling them how great they look and how talented they are. You can laugh at the adults who show up in a costume and indulge yourself with a long-time favorite Halloween candy. Mainly, though, you can spend a few minutes with a kid. Let him know you’re glad he’s at our church. Tell her how special she is and that she’s important at our church. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll head having been renewed by God’s Spirit.


Golf2015We got Carley’s Canyon High School Golf Team pictures in. While she is yet to actually play in an official tournament — this weekend’s matches, like last weekend’s matches, have been canceled due to rain — she does take a pretty good picture.








And, our favorite German, Dirk Nowitzki, got into the Halloween spirit this week by channeling his inner Lurch. Gotta love Dirk.



The Holy Spirit to Those Who Ask

One last thing about the DeAndre Jordan situation: it has made Mark Cuban a sympathetic figure. Crazy, huh? You know that Jordan has done an under-handed, diabolical, evil thing when it causes me to actually feel sorry for Cuban.



Now, back to our look at Jesus’ parable in Luke 11 and, today, what I find the most interesting about the story. Our Lord concludes his comments regarding the story with this often-overlooked line: “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Wait a second! Holy Spirit? I thought we were talking about bread! I thought this story was about our basic needs, the fundamental necessities.

We’ve seen in this story that God promises to give us everything we need and he promises to answer our prayers when we ask for what we need. Now Jesus closes it out by telling us that what we really need is the Holy Spirit. So ask for it! This is what you pray for: the Spirit. And when you do, God says, “Yes!”

This is not an open-ended teaching here. It’s not a blank check. It’s never been about asking for anything you want. God never promises to give us everything we want; but he always guarantees to give us every single thing we need. And what we need is God’s Spirit. So pray for it.

FriendPrayers3This is hard for us. We don’t really know how to do this. We know how to pray for sick people. We know how to get our names on the prayer list and how to pray for my relatives and friends of my relatives and for the second cousin of my insurance guy’s mother. Who lives in Kentucky. Yeah, we’re very good at praying for healing. We know how to pray for what we want.

Give me this new job, Lord. Help her fall in love with me, God. Father, get me out of this traffic. We pray for what we want.

Lord, keep my children safe. God, help our church to grow. Father, help our candidate win the election. Lord, help our Wednesday nights to be successful. We know how to pray for what we want.

Jesus tells us to pray for what we need. And what we need, he says, is the Holy Spirit.

What would it look like to pray for the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit convicts hearts of sin, right? Can you pray that? “Father, please convict me of the sin in my life. Please shine a bright light on the sins in my heart, God. Convict me of my sin. Expose it, Lord. And deal with it.” That’s not necessarily what I want. But it’s certainly what I need.

What would it look like to pray for what we need instead of what we want? The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, right? Can you pray that? “Father, maybe I need to go through some suffering. Maybe I need a season of washing and purifying. I know your Spirit will help me, Lord. You know what I really need, God. Maybe I need to be weak for a while.” Not what I want; maybe what I need.

What would it look like? Jesus calls the Spirit the “Spirit of Truth.” Can you pray that? “Lord, give me your Spirit of Truth. Show me what’s really true in my life, the things I can’t see, the things I ignore, the things I neglect. Show me the truth about myself. And force me to deal with it, God.” Not what I want, but what I need.

What if you went this whole weekend, from this moment through Sunday night, and only prayed for what you really need and did not pray at all for what you merely want? What if you took our Lord Jesus completely at his word? What if you really trusted him with what he says about prayer: that God provides everything we need, that God will answer us when we pray for what we really need, and that what we really need is his Holy Spirit?FriendPrayers4

What would it look like?

Maybe you’ll need help. Maybe flipping to the “fruit of the Spirit” passage in Galatians 5 could be a good starting place for you. Pray for more of that Holy Spirit character in your own life.

Pray for joy. Not joy because you sold your house or you got the raise. Joy because even though you’re going through a very difficult time, God is mercifully sustaining you. Or joy because the blood of Jesus is washing you.

Pray for patience. Yeah, I know, you’ve heard your whole life not to ever pray for patience. Jesus says pray for what you need, not what you want. It’s the Spirit. Pray for patience.

Pray for kindness. You know that person you’re not nice to. Be specific. Ask the Holy Spirit to break your heart for that person.

Pray for self-control. Part of your life is probably out of control. Part of your life is led by your impulses, your urges and desires, not by God’s Spirit. The way you eat, the way you experience sex, the hours you work, the hobby you pursue — pray for the Holy Spirit to bring those things under his control.

What would it look like?



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