Personally, I was hoping the Mavericks would never get back to .500, but that’s just because I was hoping Dirk Nowitzki would keep his over the summer and not shave until Dallas was 1-0 next season. Can you imagine an extra three months of blonde beard on that face? He would have come back looking like a giant Jim James, who I think could actually talk Dirk in to the whole “unshaped by human hands” thing.
Oh well. I guess a man shaving set to old-timey music will have to do. Goodbye, beards.
The Brooklyn Nets clinched a postseason appearance with a Sixers loss to the Nuggets last week, likely to end up somewhere between the four and six seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. This is a meaningful thing for the franchise for several reasons — it’s a success to brag about in their first season since moving to Brooklyn, it’s the franchise’s first postseason cameo of any duration since 2007, and it gets Mikhail Prokhorov one step closer to not having to get married in two years. But for us watching at home, generally uninterested in Brook Lopez set shots and Deron Williams mini-dramas, this is really only good for one reason: Another postseason with Reggie Evans.
Reggie is undoubtedly one of the NBA’s greatest supporting characters. He’s got a ridiculous beard, a weirdly shaped skulll, and a giggly smile that makes it look he’s never more than a minute removed from having farted in front of his coaches and having gotten away with it. And contrary to most players, scoring probably doesn’t make the list of his five favorite things to do on a basketball court — at absolute best, it’s a very distant fifth behind rebounding, setting screens, trash-talking opponents and flopping. He always seems to play his way into big minutes wherever he goes, but he never stays anywhere long. Since being traded to Denver halfway through his fourth season with the Sonics, he’s played for five different teams, and none of them for more than two seasons.
Yet for a guy who probably wouldn’t get his own chapter (and might not even show up in the index) when the history books are written about early 21st century basketball, Reggie Evans has managed to have a surprisingly large impact on a variety of playoff series over the years. This year will mark his sixth time playing in the playoffs, and for his fifth different franchise, and he always seems to leave his mark. He was an unexpected catalyst in the scare the Sixers put into the Pistons in the first round of the ’08 playoffs, posting double-doubles in the first two games and getting the “REG-GIE! REG-GIE!” chant from the Philly faithful, even giving the crowd the ol’ Allen Iverson hand-to-ear “Let me hear it!!” gesture. And he was a huge factor in the Clippers’ seven-game series win over the Grizzlies last year, averaging about nine boards a game off the bench and even finishing a close Game 7 on the floor as future-of-the-franchise forward Blake Griffin rode the pine.
But of course, the most memorable postseason moment from Reggie was not one that can be measured on the stat sheet. It came in Game 4 of the Denver Nuggets’ 2006 first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, where, when tussling with Clippers big man Chris Kaman for a rebound — and rebound-tussling is the area of the game where something like 85 percent of Reggie’s impact is felt — Evans found time to surreptitiously grab a handful of Kaman’s testicles, enraging the young center in to pushing Evans to the ground, and giving the “Inside the NBA” guys something to chortle about after the game. (Ernie: “He got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and…” Charles: “Ernie, I don’t know where you get your cookies at…”)
Yeah, this is funny but I’m kinda worried Jae Crowder was accidentally teleported to another dimension or got lost in the space-time continuum or some other horrible fate that leaves him fruitlessly searching for present day Dallas. Definitely concerned about this.
Oh wait — he’s still around, still rocking the heaviest dreads the NBA has seen since Pervis Ellison’s heyday. Just a camera trick. Never mind.
I haven’t checked the math on this yet, but I think I have it right — 60 percent of the NBA’s players weren’t even born when Vince Carter won the dunk contest back in 2000. Sure, all the little kids know about it thanks to YouTube and the DVD copy of “NBA Dunks Vol. 2″ that their dad gave them for their birthday, but as far as they know, he’s just an old bearded guy who’s the Mavs’ sixth man.
But even though us grownups have done an exemplary job of maintaining Vince’s legacy as one the league’s all-time best dunkers, even Ol’ Beardy himself admits that his time has passed. Passed so long ago, in fact, that he now prefers layups. From the New York Times:
Asked if dunking is as much fun as it looks, he grimaces. “Nowadays? I do it because I can, but sometimes, the landings suck. That takes the toll on your body. If it’s needed, it’s needed. But if I can make the two points by layup, I’m going to do that. You have to be smart about it.”
Smart isn’t always lauded in athletics, but Carter has learned the game lasts much longer than a dunk. “When you’re younger,” he said, “you don’t really care how you land when you come down.”
I’m not usually one to feel old when people are like “Well, now I feel old” because I am extremely young at heart, but Vince Carter saying he prefers layups because it hurts him to dunk is the kind of thing that can make even a baby feel like an old person (disclaimer: some babies legitimately look like old people, which might make this confusing). Obviously Vince’s rim-rockers are few and far between, which has been the case for a few years, but hearing that it physically hurts him is just wrong. Vince Carter should be able to do any dunk over anyone at anytime, from now until eternity. He’s earned it.
Then again, this is Vince Carter we’re talking about here. Pretty much everything hurts him. Dunking, yawning, really deep breaths, thinking too long about time travel paradoxes in famous time travel movies — you name it and Vince has suffered a sprain doing it then laid on the court for a few minutes rolling around like he just lost his legs. Sure, sometimes that leads to a dunk, but then that’s just another injury. It’s a vicious cycle.
We all know that the Dallas Mavericks (21-28) are in the midst of their worst season since 1999-2000, which wouldn’t be so bad if this season didn’t immediately follow their previous worst season since 1999-2000. So basically, after winning their first title, the Mavericks have turned in the two worst campaigns of the Mark Cuban era. Pretty discouraging, I’m sure, if you’re a Mavericks fan.
But don’t give up hope yet, Dallasers. The team has a plan to turn things around and I’m pretty sure it’s going to work. From ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:
Get used to Dirk with a beard. He’s one of several Mavs who have vowed not to shave until they get back to .500.
It’s like I always say — when in doubt, grow it out. It’s a time-tested theory for making your team in to a winner. Just look at the NHL. When is the last time a team won a Stanley Cup without a team full of beards? Exactly.
Not to mention, the Mavs have a bunch of solid beard guys already. Dudes like O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter and Chris Kaman have all looked really great in beards in the past, except for Kaman who was only included to make this in to a list of three. I’m not saying every Maverick that commits to bearding things up is going to look as great as O.J. and Vince but at least the other guys have facial hair role models they can look up to.
Really though, I’m just hoping that the Mavericks continue to be an average team and that it takes them a while to get back to even, mostly because I want to see Dirk with a giant beard. This might not be the best Mavericks season in recent memory, but it certainly could end up the most hirsute.
Several hundred blog years ago, back in ye olden days of 2007, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks lost a first round series to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors. You might have heard something about this when the Mavericks were winning their 2011 title. I think it might have been mentioned.
As you might imagine, Dirk was pretty upset about this since it was embarrassing and meant he’d be accepting his MVP award after already being eliminated from the playoffs. So he broke some stuff at the Oracle Arena, which tends to happen when competitive people are upset. No bigs.
But that’s not the good part. The good part is that Dirk Nowitzki took his broken wall and made it awesome, just by being Dirk Nowitzki. From NBA.com’s David Aldridge:
3) I knew that Dirk Diggler had thrown a chair into a wall near the visitors’ locker room at Golden State after the Mavs were upset by the Warriors in that classic first-round series in 2007, which produced a basketball-sized hole in the drywall. But I didn’t know that he had been good-natured enough to sign his artwork until I took a good look underneath the hole last week.
Let’s file this one away in the “Dirk Nowitzki is Awesome” binder. It’s getting pretty full, but I think you can squeeze it in between “The Way He Holds a Microphone at Press Conferences” and “Those Few Times He’s Worn a Headband.” It’s a pretty great binder, just like Dirk’s a pretty great Dadaist. Art is confusing but this is awesome.