“Unnecessary Roughness,” the afternoon show for ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM, brought me back yet again for a segment on the Dallas Mavericks. Three times. That makes me a regular, yes? We talked about Coach Carlisle, the Clippers game, Monta Ellis, the nightmare that is Andrew Bynum, and mid-season trade pipedreams. As always, I was there representing the Mavs Outsider Report. Click the play button below (or the link). [audio mp3=""][/audio]

linkDavid Hopkins on ESPN 1660 AM (11 minutes, 33 seconds)


"Unnecessary Roughness," the afternoon show for ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM, brought me back for a segment on the Dallas Mavericks. We talked about the season, which started last night, and reasonable expectations for the Mavs. I was there representing the Mavs Outsider Report. Click the play button below (or the link). [audio mp3=""][/audio]

link: David Hopkins on ESPN 1660 AM (14 minutes, 13 seconds)


Two days ago, I posted deleted scenes from my Dallas Observer story ("Larry Brown Just Can't Stop"). I gathered a lot of material during the research process that, while interesting, I wasn't able to use. Larry Brown is such an integral part of basketball history -- it would be a shame not to share what I was given. Here are some unused portions of my interview on February 13, 2013 with Coach Brown.

Your first pro-team was the Akron Wingfoots [sponsored by the Goodyear Tire Company in Akron, Ohio]?

Wasn’t a pro-team. I got drafted. I think I was the 54th pick in the draft [according to, he was the 55th pick], but at that time, if you tried out for a team, if you even went to one practice, you were a pro. And there were very few pro teams at the time. And then, there was a tremendous AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] program. You know, Goodyear, Phillips 66, Peoria Caterpillars, you could play ball and get a career, you know start a career. Coach Smith got me a tryout. He had me going to Phillips 66, but for some reason it didn’t pan out. I thought I had a job at Goodyear, and I ended up having to try out actually. I made the team. You played ball and then after work you got to practice. And then, if you had a game, the company gave you off to play games. We played like 50, 60 games. We ended up beating Phillips in the finals in the first tournament, which was a big thrill for me. But it was a great experience, and then four of us made the Olympic team from Goodyear. We won the Olympic trials. It was a great experience. And I probably could have stayed and played for a number of years, but Coach Smith asked me to come back after the Olympics and coach. Worked out great.

Where were you when you found out you’d be going to the Olympics?

I don’t’ know, but we had to try out. We tried out at Saint John’s which was at that time, they had the Olympics trials, they had three NCAA teams, they had two AAU teams, they had an armed forces team, they had an NAIA team, and I think they had a junior college team, and we played a tournament, but we ended up playing the three NCAA teams. They had twelve All-America, thirty-six guys, thirty-six best college guys, and we ended up winning the trials. And I remember, my coach at Goodyear was the assistant Olympic coach, and he told me after the second night that he thought I made the team, but don’t tell anybody. And then, I remember after the third game, we were all staying at a hotel, and they posted the names of the guys who made it. And that was maybe as big a thrill as I’ve ever had, being selected, that blew me away, because guys like Rick Barry, Billy Cunningham, Gale Goodrich, Jerry Sloan, Willis Reed, a lot of those guys didn’t even make it, and here I ended up making it. It was pretty amazing.

You defeated the Soviet Union in the final game. During the Cold War, was that a particularly sweet victory?

When I got selected, I got to go over to Russia to play. We played in Russia and played in four cities in Russia, and then we played in France, played in Czechoslovakia, and Poland. But the Russia team lost to that great team in 1960 and they had everybody back, and so it was kinda like we were playing against pros. They were a pretty incredible team. It was a huge victory. I got to play pretty significant role in the game, which was pretty neat. That was I guess the Cold War was at its height at that time, but I went over just prior to that, prior to the Olympic games, and I remember how talented the teams were, and how talented their team was, and what a rivalry it was going to be, so it was pretty amazing.

I got to take a team over in 1974 as a coach in a similar trip. It was pretty amazing as well.

When you entered the ABA, it was in its first year?


What were your thoughts about this new league that was starting?

The first thing is I wouldn’t have even been thought of as a player, but Doug Moe was playing in Europe and he was probably as good a player as there was in Europe, and he, I don’t know, if they had a draft or not but New Orleans had his rights and he told them that if he signed, he wanted me signed. I talked to Coach Smith about it. He thought I was crazy, because I was offered the Connecticut job at 26 after my first year at Carolina as a coach. The football coach Jim Hickey became the AD [athletic director] at Connecticut and he offered me the job. I didn’t think I was ready. Coach thought I was and wanted me to take it. But I came back and Coach, the ABA started, I guess New Orleans wanted Doug to sign. Doug said he’ll only sign if they would take me. I went to Coach he thought I was crazy. He thought I’m going to get a great job, this is the way I want my career to be, this will just be a road block, he thought I could move quickly. But I said I wanted to play. And he said, someday you won’t be able to play, so maybe this would be the right thing. I ended up playing. It was the beginning of the ABA.

You were the MVP of the first All-Star Game and also an assist leader in the league. What were some of the lessons you learned playing in the ABA?

I learn from every experience I ever had. I had a great coach in New Orleans. I had great coaches throughout the ABA, Babe McCarthy in New Orleans, Alex Hannum. I played with great players, played for great coaches. If you don’t learn from experiences like that, it’s kinda silly. I love to play, I love to coach so— to be paid to play was ridiculous to me. I felt pretty fortunate.

Look around our profession now. Everybody leaves. But I know everybody tries to—I was just on the Tim Brando Show. I love him. He’s always been great to me. He made a comment about people wonder why you leave, Larry, and I always thought you left because you wanted to go some place to win. And I said, no, I’ve had reasons to leave and they’ve all been different. Some were my choosing and some weren’t. But at the end of the day, I think that’s the nature of the profession. Guys change jobs. Yeah, I’d love to be like Coach Smith. I’d love to have spent 36 in UCLA, North Carolina, or Kansas. But every experience I’ve had has been pretty special. I’ve got a lot out of them, and I’ve hopefully made them better.

You led a freshman-dominated UCLA team to the NCAA title game and lost. But it was a tremendous accomplishment. But in sports, 2nd place is most scrutinized. How do you help your players keep a healthy perspective on what they had accomplished?

UCLA was different, because they went to ten Final Fours and won them all or something like that with Coach Wooden. I remember after the game. I had set a lot of records at UCLA. I lost the first home game there. I lost the first two in a row at home. I was setting these records. But I remember after that game, when have two freshmen guards ever played in the Final Four, were started? We had four freshmen, a 6’5” sophomore, and two seniors—basically making our first seven. I thought it was an amazing accomplishment just going, based on the way the season started, and the make up of the team, and what we lost the year before I got there. And I wanted the kids to understand that and appreciate that. And what really hit home for me was when we went to that practice before the Final Four, the first person I met walking into the practice was Ray Meyer and we beat them in a second round game and they were the number one team in the nation, only lost one game. I didn’t even realize he had never been to a Final Four and he’s one of the greatest coaches of all time. Then Coach Smith grabbed me, hugged me, and told me how great it was, and how proud he was of me, and he was a great a coach as there was, and he at that time, hadn’t won a national championship. That blew me away. And then I saw Coach McGuire and he had won in 1957, I remember how much he cherished that championship. And here I am, my first year, at the final game, the Final Four. I wanted to make sure I understood how we were, and the kids how special they were. I wanted them to know that.

Then coaching at the University of Kansas, you won the Final Four.

We went in 86. That was our best team, and we got caught up in the thunderstorm. We had three kids foul out, one of my kids torn his ACL in the game we lost, and we lost in the last seconds to Duke. I think Duke shot 35 free throws to our 11, and that was a special, special team and in 86 [88] it was so unexpected, we had lost five games in a row that season, and ended up winning it all. We had the best player, Danny [Manning]. We had a special group of guys. That was a pretty neat thing.

In the NBA, you were known for turning franchises around (Spurs, Nets, Clippers, Charlotte). How do you change the culture of a franchise?

The only team I took over with a winning record was Detroit. Carlisle and Dumas set that one up. Rick had great values and a lot of things I believed in were already in place, and then Joe put a special team together. But everywhere I’ve been, I just try to remember what I was taught by the players I got to coach, and the coaches I got to play for, and the coaches that sat next to me. Basically, play hard and play together, play unselfishly, try to rebound and defend. I’ve tried to do that. And I’ve found out kids want to be taught on every level, and guys want to play the right way generally. I haven’t met many who didn’t. And I’ve always surrounded myself with unbelievable coaches. If you look at my background, everybody who has coached with me has become a head coach. That’s the best achievement that happened to me in my life. I just try to share the values I was taught.

Allen Iverson referred to you as the “best coach in the world.” How difficult was it coaching Allen Iverson?

Yeah, but I think any time you coach a great player, a guy with an unbelievable gift, it’s not easy. My biggest things with Allen were more before we got between the lines. But his will to win, his competitiveness, those were some pretty amazing traits. When you coach great player, like him, David Thompson, David Robinson, Buck Williams, Rahseed, Reggie, all those great guys, the biggest thing as a coach, I always found, you want to make sure they play as great as they are capable of playing. I always felt a lot of pressure in that regard, because you want to make sure they play as well as they’re capable of playing. So when you are around great talent, you don’t want to screw that up. And Allen, Allen might be the greatest athlete ever. At the time, you coaching them, everyday is a challenge. And there were some days that were better than others. But the fact that he said that that’s as great a feeling as you can have.

You were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002? You won the NBA championship two years later. Did they induct you too early?

[laughs] That’s not for me to decide. I don’t think winning championships defines whether you are good at what you do or not. There’s a lot of guys that haven’t won championships, that aren’t in the hall of fame, that are pretty well deserving of that. But when you go in with the Globetrotters. And you realize the impact they’ve had on the sport. And I think Magic Johnson was in that class. You don’t think, I don’t know why I felt like I belonged. I don’t know, when you consider what the Globetrotters have meant to our sport and what Magic accomplished, and the other people, you feel like you fall way short of those.

What’s harder: winning the NCAA championship or winning the NBA championship?

I don’t even think about that. I mean just think how fortunate you are when things like that happen. Things have to be lined up pretty well. You gotta have coach, players, you gotta be with great coaches, you gotta be pretty lucky, when those things happen. I think I was always with great coaches and great players. You remember, I told you my 86 team was the best. We were a layup away from winning. Kiki had a dunk, tried to lay it in. We probably would’ve won in 80. I had some other teams with a break here or a break there, we might’ve won on both levels. That didn’t mean I was any better coach in 88 or 2004 than we were in 80 or any one of these pro stops. Just things gotta align themselves up.

Greg Popovich was the best man at your wedding?


I’d like to be a fly on the wall when you two get together. Is it basketball 24/7?

No. No, he’s a Renaissance Man, this guy. He’s as good a coach as we’ve ever had in this sport. He’s a better guy, but he’s so diverse. He goes to all these avant garde movies. He’s happy walking around New York City or San Francisco or going to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. He’s an amazing guy. I mean, we talk basketball, but it’s something that doesn’t just dominate our lives. We talk all the time. I admire the hell out of him. And happy for his success.

What do you enjoy most about coaching?

Well, this is the least enjoyable part of coaching. I’m going to enjoy 2:30, being around the players and coaches. I’m not crazy about games. I love being at practice with the players and I love being around my staff. Being around these young coaches and hoping that someday they get the same opportunities that I’ve had. Being around these players and hopefully, make a difference. See them achieve what they want to achieve, and get an education. Take basketball everywhere it takes them.

You described Tim Jankovich as the coach-in-waiting.

They did. All my coaches are “in waiting.” Everywhere I’ve been, looked who coached for me, they’ve all become head coaches. It was his idea. He was interviewed for the job, and he called Bill Self. You know that’s our connection. Bill’s like family to me. And after my interview and his interview, Bill called me and said. You know, Larry, if they offer you the job, Tim wants to come with you. I’ve known Tim and admired him. So that’s how it happened. And I think SMU when they finally decided on me. They wanted a guy with head coaching experience, because of my “track record,” they figure it’d be nice to have someone there in place. But again, all my coaches, every time I go to practice, I want Eric Snow, George Lynch, Jerrance Howard, Ulric Maligi, Tim, Jay Duncan our video guy, Sean Stout our GA, I want them all to experience what I’m doing. Be in a position to be the head coach. There’s no better gift you can give to guys than that. I guess that’s way Steve wanted it, and I was happy to oblige him. Then I want all the guys to do this.

After the Southern Miss game, you said you were very proud of your guys, in fact, you said the “most proud.” I didn’t expect that reaction after having blown such a huge lead. How does a coach see the game differently than others?

I don’t know. My thing is you want to put your kids in the best possible situation to win, every game, and you want to go to every practice hoping to get better. But I’m realistic. There are some wins that are hard for me, because I don’t think we did the things you expect and want them to do. And there are losses, they’ve done everything in their power to give a chance to win. I don’t get caught up in results all the time. I get caught up in how we play—if we do the things necessary to make this program pretty special. Now, we’re so short handed, when I took the job, Matt and a couple kids weren’t going to come back, Matt had told me. When we took this job, I didn’t want kids to be in this program and not have the opportunity to play. Some kids left. They didn’t want to leave. I don’t want kids to come to college to sit on the bench. Their time is too precious here. We lost some kids. We’re short handed. I understood that. I knew this year would be real difficult. As long as we try, try to get better, come to practice everyday, respecting their teammates, I can handle want happens in the games. We’ve invented ways to lose games, but we’re in every game just about, and that’s something I’m proud of. I just know with our transfers and with our recruiting class, and our potential, we’re going to get better quickly. That’s our goal. I want us able to compete with anybody.

In the evenings, you sometimes go to high school basketball games. What do you enjoy most about watching basketball at that level?

One, I want us to be visible, because I think it’s important for kids around here or anywhere I go to see a head coach. A lot of kids don’t know my name, but they know I coached Allen. And then, they “google” me up they are aware of my background. I want kids to know that we care enough to go to the games. I want coaches to know that I want to be a resource for them. And I want to present SMU. I want kids to want to come here because they know we’re going to be great, they’re gonna be coached, and that they have a chance to fulfill their goal. You know, they all want to be in the NBA. My job is, hopefully, give them that opportunity, but understand it’s a pretty huge hill to climb. And hopefully, they have some other alternatives, and getting an education here, and playing in a great project is pretty special. But I love going to games. I learn a lot watching guys coach. And I love seeing the high school kids play. And I’m hopeful someday some of the great ones I’ve watched play feel like they could benefit by coming here.

Any advice you would give to people writing about basketball?

[laughs] I’ve had so many different people write about me that aren’t necessarily involved in sports, but as long as you have a passion for basketball that’s the big thing for me. Then your writing will probably be better. And you obviously have a passion.

Jalen laughed when I asked if he “googled” you. He said, “No, I know who he is.”

It’s kinda funny. The two years I was out of it, I didn’t go to any pro games because I thought if I walked into a pro game people would speculate, one way or another here. But I went to so many college practices. I was in Kentucky, and Kansas, and Maryland, with Ted Boyle, and Jay Wright everyday. I’d go all around. And kids would look at me, they weren’t sure who I was until a college would bring it up. They all wanted to know about Allen. I always used to tell Allen when I coached him. "You know Allen, you just don’t realize the effect you’re having on this sport and all these kids. You gotta be a lot more responsible in what you do and how you act." I don’t think he ever realized it, nor I realized it, until now everywhere I go. People stop me in airports. A lot of people don’t know who I am, but they know I’m connected with Allen. And everywhere I go kids, they can’t wait to talk to me after, and say "you know my favorite player." Then I always see these number threes with the sleeve, the hair. They all want to be like him. It’s amazing. And I’m connected with this kid forever. Pretty amazing.

Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Thanks for coming by. Now I gotta figure out how to make us better. Take care.

[tweet "My interview with Coach Larry Brown #SMUBasketball"]


If you want to hear me ramble about the Dallas Mavericks, click the play button below (or the link). I was a guest on "Unnecessary Roughness" yesterday, the afternoon show for ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM. I give my performance a solid "B-". They invited me to return, so that's something. [sc_embed_player fileurl=""]

link: David Hopkins on ESPN 1660 AM (4 minutes, 12 seconds)


For this week's Two Man Game column (representing ESPN's TrueHoop Network), I got philosophical on the Mavs' decision to not shave until they are back to .500, meaning they have an equal win-to-loss ratio. I'll admit my sports writing doesn't always look like sports writing. I'm working on it. But hopefully, I can offer the readers something unique to balance out their diet of stats and play-by-play analysis.

I was particularly proud of these three paragraphs:

What does the beard actually accomplish? Charles Darwin suggested that the beard might have served an evolutionary role in attracting suitable mates, as an indicator of virile masculinity. In many religions, the beard symbolizes an act of holy submission. From the Bible, Leviticus 21:5 states that “They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.” Throughout history, the beard has come to represent crazy, dedicated people who were too busy to shave. (Abraham Lincoln was the first bearded president.) In modern times, beards can symbolize that you are quirky and hip, or that you’re homeless.

For the Mavs, is this beard a daring statement of manliness over their emasculated foes? Is it an act of contrition before the basketball gods? Is it a statement that there’s work to be done? Does it just look cool? Or is it based on the idea that if the Mavs keep playing poorly they may be kicked to the curb?

In the end, anyone who loves sports, be it fan or athlete, is prone to a little superstition. They understand the fickle nature of a ball dancing along the rim with seconds remaining. They have felt the injustice of a call that could’ve gone either way. They have seen their best player on the ground, suffering from a torn ligament that would’ve been fine had he not landed just so. Beards, rally caps, lucky socks… if it works, it’s not weird.

Click here to read it all.


As a columnist for the Two Man Game, which is affiliated with the TrueHoop Network, which is affiliated with ESPN, I'm on a semi-regular rotation with ESPN's 5-on-5. I get to offer my pro-basketball opinions, and then commenters get to tell me why I'm wrong. Actually, it's a lot of fun. For December 28th, "Who's buying, who's selling?" Which teams will be the movers and shakers before the trade deadline?

For December 12th, "Oddsmakers: Mavs-Celts, Spurs-Jazz" Predicting 2012-13 outcomes based on each team's current Hollinger Playoff Odds


I've been writing my Two Man Game column for almost ten weeks now. Here's an update: Gone Too Soon (November 6th) - Top Five Most Beloved Short-Lived Mavericks Make or Break (November 13th) - Dallas Mavericks guards Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones have a lot to prove this season. A Thesis on Being Thankful (November 20th) - A review of a basketball encyclopedia from the 90s gives present day Mavs fans much to be thankful for Hope for the Half Man (November 27th) - Vince Carter still contributes while everyone else seems ready to retire him. General Manager Time Machine (December 4th) - In the 1980s, Dallas Mavericks drafted well, but here's how it could've been better. Player Paradox (December 12th) - Why Chris Kaman is a sneakily productive player

I've enjoyed writing for the TrueHoop Network. Plus, Rob Mahoney has been a great editor. If you care at all about the NBA, you should visit and bookmark his Point Forward blog for Sports Illustrated.


This week, I posted my second column for The Two Man Game: A Meditation on Movement. It was about the Mavs' new starting point guard Darren Collison. For every column I write, I start with a quote from Galactus--basically because he's a baller and a truly epic trash talker. "The be-all and end-all am I!" I believe Galactus must look favorably upon basketball (Wasn't it Galactus who originally said, "game recognizes game"?), because the Devourer of Worlds blessed O.J. Mayo's preseason game against the Bobcats when I wrote about him. He had a respectable 13 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, which we should just round up to a triple-double. This week, Collison received the Galactus bump when I wrote about him. He had a team high 17 points against the Lakers, played some incredible defense against Nash, and the Mavs won. Last night, Collison scored 17 points again with 7 assists against the Jazz. Kirk Henderson says it best on Two Man Game:

Darren Collison (17 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds) really is a breath of fresh air. While he struggled in the 3rd and 4th quarters, his attacking mentality early in the first quarter and then later again in the second is what kept Dallas in this game early on, despite the rebounding advantage from Utah. He also has posted on 3 turnovers in 65 minutes of playing time this season. (link)

It's Galactus. Look for his blessing every Tuesday on the Two Man Game.


The Two Man Game posted my first Tuesday column: The Burden and Blessing of Expectations. In my column, I examine the creation myth of O.J. Mayo and the implications of Mayo's career to date.

Do you remember last week — those simpler days, that more innocent time — when O.J. Mayo was generally regarded as the no. 2 offensive option? Nowitzki would be Nowitzki, and Mayo could simply fill the far right column of the box score behind him. Mayo’s biggest concern was walking in Jason Terry’s shoes. But now, with Nowitzki out for the next six weeks due to knee surgery, Mayo has some larger shoes and a longer road.

Mayo did not start a single game for the Memphis Grizzlies last season, and now, he’s potentially the Mavs’ best offensive hope for the month of November. Sure, Elton Brand will take Nowitzki’s position on the court, but not his role on the team. That will almost surely belong to Mayo.

We may ponder the cruel fate of a universe that would place the task of gods into the hands of a mere mortal. We might wonder if the swelling in Nowitzki’s right knee was intended not to test the German’s resolve, but Mayo’s. However, for Mayo, unfair expectations have followed him throughout his entire basketball career. While he’s only played in the NBA for four seasons, his legacy will be forever attached to his ability to ascend those high hopes.

Read the entire story here.

I'm happy with how it came together. The story was mentioned on ESPN's TrueHoop blog, click here and scroll down. They quoted a section where I explained why I view basketball as a form of artistic expression. If you scroll down a little more, you can read NugzNazty who commented: "David Hopkins, really lame man."

Proud moment for me.

Tim Rogers, my sometime benevolent editor at D Magazine, took the opportunity to call my story "smart writing," which I will gladly accept. (There are many weeks in the NBA season. It won't all be smart. I assure you.) Thank you, Tim. And then, he posted a poll, asking people to vote on what type of facial hair they prefer on me. Right now, "friendly mutton chops David" is winning by five votes.

Next Tuesday at around 10:30 AM CST, Two Man Game will feature another post from me about the Mavs--and the week after that and so on until they kick me off the masthead.


20121018_121914Last week, Rob Mahoney put out a call for new contributors to The Two Man Game. I've been reading his blog for quite a while. It's one of the best-written sites covering NBA basketball and the Dallas Mavericks. After every game, I always stop by to get his keen insight--and then repeat it to my friends and pretend I'm a sports genius.

I sent Rob my portfolio, and he invited me to join the team. Hooray for me. I'm now writing a weekly column. Look for it on Tuesdays at around 10:30 AM CST. I would describe the column as a player (1) profile (2) almanac (3) folklore guide and (4) book of hymns. Fear my basketball insight. You can expect at least one well-reasoned defense of Derek Harper as the Mavs' greatest point guard. I might also post a few badly-reasoned defenses too.

As a warm-up, I made my first contribution today: "Blue and White."


I will be here on Tuesday night:UTA Maverick Speakers Series presents Frank Deford "Journalism: Sports and Beyond"

Frank Deford's work has appeared in virtually every medium. With a 50-year tenure at Sports Illustrated, Deford is a senior contributing writer there. As a commentator, he appears regularly on NPR and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO. Deford is the author of 17 novels. His latest is Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter. He has written several TV documentaries, and his novel, Everybody's All-American, was turned into a feature film. Among his journalism honors are a Peabody, CableACE, and Emmy. Deford also serves as chairman emeritus of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Plus, I'm a sucker for any presentation with the phrase "and beyond" in the title.


allstarincognito I contributed an article to the Mavs Fast Break blog as part of their "Fan's Voice" series. I'm happy they included my optimistic rambling about the upcoming season.

Regarding the Fan's Voice articles: "A selected few will be featured on and entered in for a chance to cover practice or even a game." I would truly, truly love a chance to play sportswriter for a day. If you visit the site, I could use your likes, shares, and comments. Thanks.

Continue Reading…


The Dallas Mavericks have a problem. I'm not talking about Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I'm not talking about the playoffs or our hopes in the off season to make good use of our cap space. I'm talking about the team's website. I made an offhand comment about it on Twitter last year, but it should be repeated. The Dallas Mavericks website is ugly, ugly, ugly. I took a screen capture of it last night. Look at that mess. At first glance, does it even look like a basketball website? Even worse, when you first visit, you get a pop-up window for MavsGear. Close the window and there's a "Playoff Central" website before you arrive at the actual website. If it were possible, "Playoff Central" is even uglier than the main site. I have no clue what to click or how to escape (hint: look up top). No focal point with a random mess of text, images, videos, ads, and half-attempts at social networking-- the user experience is almost abusive.

I realize the NBA wants uniformity among franchise sites, but not every website is as garish as the Mavs. The Knicks and Nets have good sites--cleaner layout, less obtrusive advertising, and better flow. Let those team sites serve as a model.

I love my Dallas Mavericks, and they deserve better. Whoever is in charge of the website needs an intervention. The front office wants to squeeze as much ad money as possible from the team's website, but at what cost?

Beyond the obnoxious ad placement, let's talk about the banner. The title banner for any website is sacred. Clean it up. Move or remove the account manager login. Move the Twitter follow button (all the social networking can be conveniently grouped in one section above or below the banner or farther down). Move or remove the season tickets ad. I know you want to sell season tickets, but it's okay to have some space on that title banner. It will make the content you want to highlight easier to highlight. A lot of these buttons, banners, and links are redundant.

Ultimately, bad design results from an inability to make a decision, to focus and determine priorities. The problem can be best summarized with this well-known YouTube video: Microsoft re-designs the iPod packaging.


I would love to have heard the phone conversation between Mark Cuban and Lamar Odom a few days ago. CUBAN: Hey Lamar, sorry to hear about how things went down in LA. The Lakers wanted to trade you and Pau to get an overrated point guard. What were they thinking? ODOM: If you called to gloat, man, just stop. CUBAN: No, actually, I wanted to remind you that you need to report for practice in 48 hours. I booked your flight to Dallas. ODOM: Excuse me? CUBAN: You're a Maverick now. Welcome to the team. ODOM: Wait. What? How did that happen? Who did LA get? CUBAN: Nobody. ODOM: Nobody? CUBAN: Not a single soul. Isn't that hilarious? ODOM: How did that happen? CUBAN: Apparently, there's a teeny-tiny footnote in the new collective bargaining agreement. It states that if a team ever sweeps another team in the playoffs, next year you get one of their best players. ODOM: For real? CUBAN: Nah. I'm messing with you. I gave them our trade exception. ODOM: How does a trade exception work? CUBAN: I have no frickin' idea. No one really knows, but I printed the exception on shiny paper with gold foil inlay. Jerry Buss really wanted one. ODOM: So, that's that? CUBAN (laughing uncontrollably): The Lakers gave us the sixth man of the year! ODOM: Your laughter scares me. Please stop. CUBAN (still laughing): Sorry. It's just so sad. The Lakers are so, so stupid. ODOM: I'll see you next week. Stop laughing. I'm hanging up now. CUBAN (finally regaining control): Okay, okay, bye. I promise you'll love playing for the Mavs. I feel lucky. I'm going to call Orlando again.

And scene.

While I hate losing Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler (see last post), I would say the addition of Vince Carter and Lamar Odom is a nice consolation prize. Is it possible that our roster is even stronger this year? (Assuming Haywood can be a reasonable replacement to Chandler.) Simultaneously, our west coast rivals just hobbled themselves further. It may be premature, but if the Spurs are actually on the decline (I have my doubts) and the Lakers continue to be their own worst enemy--the Thunder may be our only true competition to reaching the '11-'12 Finals. Including the preseason games, we play the Thunder four times within a month. Those games will be very telling.

The irony is almost disturbing. Lamar Odom's last act as a Laker was to get ejected from game 4 against the Mavs for his shove/hit/love tap against Dirk Nowitzki. And now, he's on our team. Let's hope that our team therapist can help with any issues that arise. It cannot be easy to be Lamar Odom right now. All the same, we're happy to have you.

As a side note, J.J. Barea must really hate the Mavericks for not giving him a larger offer if he's willing to play for the Timberwolves -- a team that seems to love collecting point guards. This year's free agency period is an odd one. Players get an inflated sense of their own value. Barea was a useful role player in a good system. However, he was hardly a priority in our off-season. Sure, he could become the next Steve Nash, but I have my doubts.

Let's not dwell. Welcome Lamar Odom.


It's free agency time in the NBA. I'm not a fan of the draft/open trade months, because unless it's 1998 and we're getting Dirk Nowitzki for Tractor Traylor, this time has never been too kind to Mavs fans. We don't have a lot (or any) salary cap room. Plus, despite Mark Cuban's "deep pockets," Mavs fans know he hasn't always been good at throwing money at the right players. In 2004, Cuban became frugal, and we lost Steve Nash in free agency. Then Nash decided to become league MVP two years in a row. Cuban overpaid for Shawn Bradley, Michael Finley (our franchise player for many years, but was probably no better than a healthy Caron Butler), and possibly Brendan Haywood. Now, if the reports are true, we're losing both Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler. Caron will be a Clipper. Tyson will be a Knick. The Caron deal is done. The Chandler situation isn't official, but it looks like a lock. Before Mavs fans start complaining about the sky falling and a doomed 2011-2012 season, let's look at everything with some perspective.

Caron Butler is going to the Clippers for 3 years and $24 million. God bless him, but that's a lot. The Mavericks can't match that. True, Butler was one of our top scorers, but we were able to win the finals without him and one could argue there are others on our bench to replace him. Personally, I hope this means more playing time for Corey Brewer--one of my favorite new Mavs.

Losing Tyson Chandler is a harder pill to swallow. I'm really going to miss watching him in a Mavs jersey. Keeping him was our main priority during the offseason, and Cuban blew this one. However, on the bright side, a lot of fans forget that Brendon Haywood's numbers are nearly comparable to Tyson Chandler's. Remember, last season, Coach Carlisle wasn't entirely certain who should be the starting center. So we still have a starting-caliber center in Haywood. Haywood isn't as exciting to watch as Chandler. Haywood lacks the intangibles that Chandler brought to the team, i.e. his energy and leadership in the Mavericks locker room. Keep in mind, last year was one of Chandler's few healthy years. He's been injury prone throughout his career. While Chandler may seem attractive coming off a championship year, it's possible he's still a risky purchase.

(Side note: Having only spent one year as a Maverick, can Tyson Chandler still be considered the best center in franchise history? In my opinion, you have to put in a few years to earn that title. James Donaldson might still be #1.)

To console us over the possible loss of Tyson Chandler, let's think of him not like a greedy free agent looking to cash in on his success with an elite team, but more like Mary Poppins. He arrived on the doorstep of our broken Mavs family, offered a bit of magic, helped lead us to our first championship, and then raised his umbrella to sail to other families in need... like the Knicks.

With Butler and Chandler leaving, I'm curious to see if we make any major deals this season. I don't know why Cuban would want to clear cap room after our 2010-2011 season. We're not in a rebuilding year. And new CBA luxury tax penalties don't kick in yet. If nothing else, it's time for Corey Brewer and Brendan Haywood to show us what they can deliver.

UPDATE #1: Nowitzki wondering who will help Mavs defend championship

UPDATE #2: Thanks to my favorite Mavericks blog The Two Man Game, I found this quote from Mark Cuban (in this post by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas), which explains his reasoning:

"The reality is that in the new system, cap room will have far more value than it had in the past. I realize that everyone is all freaked out about how and where free agents and future free agents are going, but it’s not just about getting one guy.

We are not saving cap room in hope of that one super special free agent being there. It’s about being in the position to improve every year and possibly add some significant, younger players next year and in future years.

What I don’t think people understand is that once a team hits the tax level the ability to improve our team is reduced dramatically. In addition, your ability to make trades is reduced. So basically, if we made the move to keep everyone together with five-year deals, the team we have today is going to be the team we have for the next five years. If we were a young team it would be one thing. But we are not a young team.

In the past, it was different. If we had a problem, I could fix any mistake by having Donnie find a trade and just taking on more money. That is how we got Jet, the Matrix, JKidd, Tyson. It was always about taking on more money. That trick doesn’t work any more for teams over the tax. So we have to change our approach. By getting back under the cap, we have a ton of flexibility not only for free agent signings but also trades. If we can get the right guy(s) via free agency, great. if we do it via trade, great. We have that much more flexibility to make moves."

UPDATE #3: And we lost Corey Brewer to Denver for a second-round draft pick (click here). I should just stop trying to analyze and wait for the season to begin.


I'm a huge fan of the Dallas Mavericks. If you know me, you know this. I've been following their games ever since Dick Motta was coach. I have my #41 jersey and a pile of Mavs t-shirts. On my birthday, almost ten years ago, I sat on the couch with a Mavs Dancer during The Mark Cuban Show. I have the VHS tape somewhere. I follow The Two Man Game and read everything written by Earl K. Sneed. I'm a Free Darko basketball fan, and I dream of the day that Jacob Weinstein would illustrate and sell a Mavs print. April and I are season ticket holders. (The 10 game package. I'm not made of money.) We were there, every round, throughout the Mavs' incredible run to win the 2011 NBA Championship. This year, we even upgraded our seats to Section 329 Row C Seats 7-8. Not that we've been able to enjoy them yet. With the NBA lockout now in its one millionth day, a restlessness has settled on me. No matter how many times I flip through my collection of media guides, watch the championship DVD or every Nowitzki clip ever loaded onto YouTube, it's not the same as actually getting to enjoy a 2011-2012 season.

For awhile, I thought about starting my own Mavs blog. However, if you can tolerate the occasional basketball rant from me, I'll keep everything here. A few months ago, I wrote down some thoughts about old Mavs versus new Mavs, Reunion Arena versus American Airlines Center. It's not a polished essay, but here it is:

My dad was a season ticket holder throughout the 80s and 90s. He would occasionally take me to the games. For some reason, I attended a disproportionate amount of games against the Nuggets and Jazz—which probably explains the deep-seeded scorn and contempt (respectively) that I bear these two franchises. It’s hardwired into my childhood.

Reunion Arena was a bold concrete testimony to utilitarian structures. It served to contain people for the purpose of events. Nothing more. It had the aesthetic of a parking garage. The stark, boring usefulness of Reunion Arena endeared it to Dallas basketball fans. Even the location of Reunion Arena said: “Please come for the game, then go home.” There was nothing around it. No restaurants. No bars. In order to get to the game, my dad would park behind this one abandoned building and then we’d cross a series of railroad tracks to get there. As a kid, crossing the tracks was the best part. Occasionally, a train would pass and it would momentarily halt our journey. It always gave basketball this sense of being... well... on the other side of the tracks. It felt off-limits and cool. I had to sneak over from my suburban nest to this other world, a world of concrete and hardwood and noise. All so I could watch Rolando Blackman take the most perfect jump shots, night after night.

When Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks, he soon moved the team to the American Airlines Center, a beautiful palace in contrast to the cinder block known as Reunion Arena. I have no longing to go back to Reunion Arena. I can’t muster the nostalgia. Sorry. When the Mavericks suffered a decade as dreadful as the 90s, it spoiled the arena. Loss and defeat stained the walls and choked the air. Reunion Arena felt less like a basketball stadium and more like a fall-out shelter. Nothing says “duck and cover” like the 1992-1993 season, 11 wins and 71 losses.

Walking into the American Airlines Center for the first time, I was in awe. “You built this all for me?” Yes, I really did have that reaction.

Let the healing begin.

When American Airlines Center was first built, there was nothing around it. Reunion Arena occupied a desolate region on the south end. The AAC occupied the desolate region on the north end. After a few years, Victory Park grew around it. Restaurants, bars, clubs, condos, the euphoric media-saturated bright lights of the AT&T Plaza – thank you Hillwood Development Company, LLC. Even the name: Victory Park. Can you sense the urgency? We are winners. Please, oh please, let not this name become ironic.

The walk from where I park my car (a nice lot under the bridge near Hooters) to the arena isn’t as perilous as when I used to go to the games with my dad. However, the feeling of “crossing the tracks” is still with me. That walk is part of the ritual.