2012: A Perplexing Odyssey—Chapter 11
Did you see 2001: A Space Odyssey? Did you understand it? You don’t have to play smart with me, as I freely admit it escaped me completely. I get that there is something about human evolution—where we’ve been and where we’re going—and the evils of technology and such and… well, there you have it. A classic.
I put my trust in the good hands of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Clarke that there was much more to their opus, though I didn’t run to Netflix to see the sequel 2010. But if I didn’t understand the finer points of 2001, there is another odyssey that seems to confound me even more. It is the perplexing odyssey of the Dallas Mavericks' basketball season in 2012.
So let’s just call it 2012: A Perplexing Odyssey.
Starting with this past offseason, it was clear that this year would be like no other. The lockout was a headache. I don’t think I’m alone when I wonder how a group of millionaires can’t come up with some agreement on how to evenly split up the pie.
On one side, we’re told there’s a union fighting for its workers. This union is fighting tooth-and-nail for its members, and this affects all of us workers who hope to earn a fair wage and enjoy proper working conditions.
For me, that is a circle that’s hard to square. I’m in a couple of unions. Steel workers are in a union. Teachers are in a union. Take a look at any of their union halls and see if you find a Kardashian bee-bopping around. I’ll save you the time—you won’t.
Players' unions don’t feel to me like teachers' unions… or actors' unions, for that matter.
But on the other side, who sympathizes with owners? Owners, really? Their hard-line stances seem like a dog-and-pony show. Where were these stances when they were doling out exorbitant contracts in the summer? I mean, Gilbert Arenas didn’t draft up his own contract, did he?
Endless cries of losing money and becoming insolvent, frankly, sound like hogwash. Pure hogwash.
So who wins? Not the fans.
But the lockout finally ended, and we got to work. Or we didn’t. The band was almost immediately broken up. Mark and Donnie instead saw fit to hold onto cap space for the summer of 2012. And while releasing Tyson Chandler (among others) stinks, I understand management’s thinking, and I do think we will be better for it in the long run.
But the lockout and the breaking up of a championship team led to this perplexing season, this perplexing odyssey.
Say what you will about the Dallas Mavericks, but they’ve always been a model of consistency. Sure, they’ve tweaked the lineup many times over the years looking for the right mix, but steady ownership, few coaching changes and nine straight seasons of 50-plus wins has kept the fan base engaged.
However, this year has been different. For starters, this condescended schedule is brutalizing older teams. Brutalizing. And, damn, we’re old.
Triple-headers don’t seem like they should be a death knell. After all, I often work three days in a row (sometimes four!). But clearly the grind has taken its toll on Kidd and Dirk—two warriors who’ve rarely been hurt in their careers and have logged a ton of minutes.
The new guys we added this offseason have had different levels of success. However, the insufficient practice time has hampered their ability to really blend. And the young guys, who have promise, often struggle to find their roles amidst the veteran players.
And then there’s Lamar Odom.
Before his banishment last week, his play had been so bad, so uninspired, so lifeless that I’ve truly had a hard time remembering what he did that was so good in the first place.
And this is a guy with sick skills. This is a guy who can get triple doubles. This was the sixth man of the year last year, for Pete’s sake.
The minute he arrived, Lamar Odom acted as if he had been traded to Siberia or even worse (like a team owned by Michael Jordan). In reality he had been traded to the Dallas Mavericks, the defending world champions, located in a warm-weather, thriving city with no state income tax. Add to that a generous owner, a veteran team and nine million dollars to help blunt any dissatisfaction.
I, like all of us, have felt heartache. But I find work to be an oasis that helps relieve the pain. Not so with Odom. Work seemed to be a labor. He simply did not seem to want to be out there.
But Odom may just be a symptom, as this whole team has seemed out of sorts this season. The inconsistencies are maddening. The injuries have taken their toll.
And, from what I’ve seen, this team can’t throw the ball in the ocean. The game of basketball is very simple, but if you can’t shoot, you’re done. I don’t know that I’ve seen a Mavs team since the Richie Adubato days shoot so poorly. I have no idea what the team shooting percentage is, but it’s gotta stink.
And where does that leave us as we still try to lock down a playoff spot?
Perplexed, I guess.
My hope is this: that we get healthy.
I hope we get healthy. I hope we coalesce. And I hope we show some of that championship mettle. I hope we get in the playoffs and stay for a while.
And then let's get to the offseason, add Deron, upgrade the 5 spot, keep and develop Roddy B and Brendan and whoop up on OKC for a few years. I might live far away in New York, but I summarily pooh-pooh the idea that anything from Oklahoma could best anything from Texas.