We MUST sign Doug Christie
It’s natural for any sports fan to fancy themselves an armchair general manager. This simple tendency has given birth to the extravaganza we all know as fantasy sports. In this fantasy world, we all know just what or whom our team needs. We’ve pinpointed the player, we know which free agents to go after, we’ve worked out the perfect trade. I swear to you I know people who are sure that Roddy Beaubois, Brendan Haywood and Shawn Marion would net you Dwight Howard. Considering Orlando GM Otis Smith’s track record, though, maybe it would.
But the real world of NBA wheeling-and-dealing is a little less fantastical. For every blockbuster that sends Carmelo to the Knicks or Garnett to the Celtics, there are a myriad of ho-hum trades and free agent signings that are equally as critical to a team’s title hopes.
Back in 2005 the Dallas Mavericks were putting into motion one of these smaller deals that they hoped would bring big results. The Mavs were trying to sign veteran shooting guard Doug Christie.
Memory is elusive. These chapters I’ve shared are proof of that (re: Chapter 2, Walter Bond; real and imagined). We tend to remember things in a manner that underscores our core beliefs or reinforces the narrative we’ve set up in our minds. It’s cleaner this way. It allows a haphazard world to make a little sense.
Having said that, my specific memory of the courting of Doug Christie has made me incredulous to this day.
We really wanted Doug Christie. We really, really wanted Doug Christie.
Our pursuit was relentless. Nothing was spared as we rolled out the red carpet, killed the fatted calf, adorned Christie and his ever-faithful wife (my only reference to his wife, if you don’t know, then you don’t know the Christies) with a bounty of jewels. I’m telling you, we really wanted Doug Christie. You would think we were trying to sign Peyton Manning.
We really wanted a so-so shooter and good half court passer who had a truckload of experience. We really wanted a lesser-than-advertised defender who only looked good in Sacramento because he was flanked by no-defense Peja and slow-footed Mike Bibby.
This is who we wanted.
Full disclosure: If my comments above have not given this away, I’ve never been a Doug Christie fan. I know he was a solid starter for many years in Sacramento and I know he filled the role of “glue guy” for a team littered with high-scoring, big-ego players. He did his job, played his role and never complained.
That said, I’ve never been a fan.
However, it was this “glue guy” designation that caught Avery Johnson’s eye when taking the reigns for his first full season in 2005. Johnson, who was looking to change the team’s identity from Don Nelson’s all-offense, no-defense approach, wanted guys like Doug Christie. He wanted experience and guys that he could trust. Avery was selling the fan base on the idea that Christie was the man for the job.
Mind you, whatever I think of Christie, the Doug Christie version 2005 was not the Doug Christie player that was a core piece in Sacramento’s heyday. No, this was an older Christie suffering from chronic ankle problems. Most teams at the time were giving him a pass, feeling that his playing days were behind him.
But not us. No, we really wanted Doug Christie.
And we got him!
We got Doug Christie! Tell Cuban to start planning the parade route! We got Doug Christie!
For seven games.
Through no fault of his own, he was shot. He was done. The ankle injuries, which you’d think would have been well-researched by our Mavs front office, had rendered him useless, even as a glue guy. His stats in seven starts spell it out: 3.7 points, 2.0 assists.
He did average just over one steal a game, but that lock-down defense was absent as well.
And there you have it, all the wining and dining, all the glowing praise, all the reassurances from Avery and the crew that Doug Christie would be a key asset led to a whopping seven games.
Oddly enough, classic journeyman Adrian Griffin took Christie’s place and gave Avery everything he was hoping Christie would bring. Griffin ended up being the glue guy who set picks, played hard defense and occasionally knocked down a few shots. There was no wining and dining involved, no calves were hurt along the way. Griffin came in and did his job and was rewarded by being a starter in our first ever championship series.
Adrian Griffin ended up being our Doug Christie.
And that’s not just a memory, that’s a fact.