I'm writing this coming off the heels of a Cowboys team starting 0-2, the same team that weeks ago was the favorite to come out of the NFC. They were serious contenders. They were going to be the first to play a home Super Bowl. They had a relentless defense and a big play offense. They were a team to be scared of, with young and talented players all over the field.
Kind of a sharp contrast to what the Mavericks are portrayed as nowadays in the media. Favorites for the division? No, all the talk is going to be on the young, talented Grizzlies, on the Yao Ming-led Rockets, and on the old, savvy Spurs. Serious contenders? You'll be hard pressed to find a national sports writer that lists them when running down the teams that will contend. Nobody's scared of this team, and as for young talent? We know we have young talent, but Roddy B and Dominique Jones are a ways away from being household names.
Let's be honest: No one expects us to be anything other than a playoff team who wins a series, at most two. And around Mavericks fandom? I'm not a pessimist and never will be, but I realize that the odds of getting the ultimate prize of the Finals Championship are not in our favor. We're not the front-runners, we're not the potential contenders, and we're not really the dark horse either. We have a shot, but we need a lot of things to go right because this team has changed very little from our first round exit squad last year except for adding one more year of decline.
This isn't supposed to be a depressing fanpost, though. National media has overlooked us; they have no expectations for us. Just because the national media ignores use, making little basketball jokes about our defense or comparing teams who can't win in the playoffs to us, that doesn't mean that we as fans don't have expectations, and pretty decent ones at that. Though you couldn't tell from reading ESPN, we've got the pieces and the desirability to obtain Chris Paul if he is moved. Though you couldn't tell it from NBA.tv, we were 2nd in the West last year without any real losses in terms of talent or players. Though you couldn't tell it from Yahoo Sports, we have the best PF in the game. Though you couldn't tell it from the Basketball Jones, the Mavericks may be aging and have wrinkles, but they still have way more talent than most teams in the league.
So even though national media and most NBA fans don't have expectations, that doesn't mean I don't. We know about Roddy, about Dirk's true value, about our depth at center, and I know that we are being underrated. But that's nice. It's nice. Nobody will be writing hateful articles about how "they knew" the Mavericks were going to crash and burn, because they don't really care. The preseason power rankings may not even have us in the top 10. I know we're better than they say we are, but sometimes its nice when the five game losing streak we will have at some point is not the top story. While of course you'd rather be excepted to win the title here and now, sometimes its nice to relax and let things happen. Sometimes its nice not to have expectations.