"Meet and Greet at the AAC with Dirk!"
The caption on this picture made me think something I’d not ever thought before. Let me try to explain.
I remember my first game as a kid, sitting at the absolute top row of Reunion Arena with the backs of our heads against the wall, squinting to see our rookie wunderkind from Cal take on Hakeem and the Rockets.
I remember losing my mind during Dwayneapalooza in 2006.
I remember losing my mind in a different way on June 12th, 2011.
But of all of the memories I have of chasing Maverick basketball, the one my friends will probably say I talk about most is the time I met Dirk. It was a preseason meet and greet at the AAC practice court under the Old No.7 Club, and I believe it was the whole 2005 squad.
I remember bits and pieces. Terry unabashedly making a pass at my sister. Daniels being pretty darn friendly. But mostly how tall Dirk was, and how genuinely nice was, and how disconnected he felt from the regimented and sterile autograph process- he was just friendly, and real. Just wanted to say hey and let you know he was thankful for your support. How he was exactly the way I imagined him.
And I remembered that they seemed like a unit, a collective. There was some togetherness. After all, we were with the first Dallas team to ever make it to the Finals. We just didn’t know it yet.
It’s different now. From what I’ve seen, meet and greets like this are Dirk and his buddy Brian Cardinal. Or they’re crazy Delonte and Lamar kicking it at the zoo with a local DISD class. Or it’s, like this instance, something with the whole team. They’re never a one-man show. Unless that’s the team.
That’s why I think there’s never been a clearer symbol that just about everything has changed. Regardless of whether you subscribe to the argument that Dirk’s never had a true number two, he’s never had it like this. Finley. Nash. Terry. He always had a guy.
There seems to be some real nervous sentiment pervading the city about this. But honestly, I like his odds. Because when you’ve got a championship coach, the wildest owner in professional sports, a brilliant personnel evaluator, and you play in a league with a constantly-shifting landscape like the current NBA, your team’s always got a shot. And when you’ve got a shot that falls like Dirk’s? Smile, y’all. We got it good.