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Outside Perspective: Jeff "Skin" Wade of The Ben & Skin Show Gives His Thoughts

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I was fortunate to have a nice phone conversation with Jeff 'Skin' Wade of The Ben and Skin show on ESPN Radio in Dallas. He has been a part of the Mavericks' glorious run to the Championships, and was on hand to witness and take part in the epic celebration in Dallas on Thursday. Here are his thoughts:

 

How crazy was the crowd and the atmosphere at the parade?

I was just amazed at how it was genuine excitement and genuine unbridled enthusiasm without incident. And you know, it's Texas, so by the time we're halfway through the parade, let's say 10:30, 10:45, we're probably creeping up on 90 degrees, maybe more, but people were screaming and jumping up and down. I did not see anybody push anybody, I did not see anyone have the look on their face like something bad was happening, or they were getting squashed or anything.

It was people, sometimes along the road six and seven people deep, you would look up and there would be people on the second floor of parking garages going back three or four rows, and I just didn't see any pushing, any shoving, it was like the kind of screaming you would want to see at a parade. It's almost like, you know the season, the playoff run, was real storybook and unpredictable, and nobody thought it was gonna happen, and for the parade to go off with a couple hundred thousand people without a hitch, I'm so proud of the city of Dallas to celebrate the way they did. It was awesome.

Do you think that it's sunk in that the team actually won it all, or do you think everyone is still in a state of shock?

I'd say there's no way. There's no way it sunk in. We've been talking with some of the players and everyone's just kinda walking around... you have to understand this franchise went an entire decade with horrible basketball. It was one of the worst decdes in sports franchise history. They had two teams in back to back years that flirted with having the worst record in the history of the league. They had super high draft picks, can't-miss players, that went on to have great NBA careers that they somehow screwed up and mismanaged and traded on.

Everything went poorly, and then when things settled down, and Cuban got here and they had their great run, they had these horrible, epic playoff disasters that, you know at the time they happen you sit there and ask yourself, ‘can a franchise recover from this? Do they have to blow this team up?' They didn't play very well the last month of this season, they didn't really get a rhythm, and for this team to pull it together when they did, and go on the run they did, I mean they swept the Lakers. We hadn't played them since the eighties, had never beaten the Lakers on their floor in a playoff game, and we swept them.

So the run was so unbelievable, and some of these comebacks, coming back from 15 in the fourth quarter, doing it in Miami, and all the unbelievable ways in which they won games, I think it sort of made it impossible to have sunk in. We're still trying to process how you come down against Oklahoma City in game four and steal it on their floor like they did. And to do it again in game two, and the Dirk 101-fever game, to win that game, there's just too much to process. It's not possible for it to have sunk in that the Mavericks are champions yet. And that's why this week, honestly and truly, if you're a Dallas sports fan, I'll argue until the end of time that this is the best week ever. It's just been unbelievable.

Do you think there's pressure, now that they've won, to repeat? Or do you think people are just going to be satisfied with this one?

That's a really interesting question. I've been trying to figure that out myself. When I sit there and go, man this is an older team, and everything had to go right, they poured everything into it, I can see them coming back and just not being up to the same standards next year. But I just don't see how that's possible with Dirk, and the other factor is, they won the championship without Caron Butler, without getting anything from Roddy Beaubois, without getting anything from their first-round pick, they added Corey Brewer, a former lottery pick, and those are four guys that, if they got contributions during the playoffs, it was tiny contributions.

So when you look at that, there are some guys that are going to be hungry for playing time that have some ability, then you have Dirk at the center of it all, Jason Kidd, the professional's professional, and if we are able to re-sign Tyson Chandler, he's a hungry player. So even though they've got the ‘well they're an older team and they took so much to get over the mountain, I could see them taking a step back', I'm not ready to say that yet. I can sense from the character of this team that they go back next year and make another good run at it.

Do you think that, because of their success, Dallas will be attractive to other free agents in the league, and that they will be able to keep their free agents, since they'll probably be offered a lot of money?

I think they've got two really tough guys to keep, and Tyson Chandler is going to be one of the most highly regarded free agents on the market. There are so few good centers in the league, and he anchored a championship defense for a team that wasn't considered a great defensive team. Jose Barea is probably more important to the Mavericks than to a lot of other teams because you don't want Kidd playing a ton of minutes, and he's one of the only guys they have that can break down the defense, but I would think that he earned a significant pay raise.

What's gonna happen is, no one knows what the collective bargaining agreement is going to be, and so if they start working towards a hard cap, that not only limits those guys' opportunities on the open market, unless a lesser team with cap room wants to pay them, but the Mavericks will have to figure out if they can even afford to keep these guys. So it's hard to answer that question without knowing what the terms of the new CBA are going to be, but I would think Dallas would be an attractive place to play.

And the thing that's going to be really interesting is to see what happens in the summer of 2012 when Dwight Howard is available, and Deron Williams who played high school ball here at The Colony is available. The argument in Dallas all these years was, "well, you cant win championships with Dirk as your best player. That's not possible. He's actually a Robin to a Batman." And we always made the argument that that was ludacris. That Dirk was actually better than any of the Detroit Pistons on the team that won in '04. But he just didn't have all the superstar support around him.

Jason Terry had the run of his life. Jason Kidd played like a youngster. Tyson Chandler played D. I would think that a younger star would see how playing with Dirk has made it so much easier on guys like JET and guys like Kidd, and think "man, imagine what a Deron Williams could do on a pick and roll with Dirk Nowitzki." I think Dirk in the playoffs has raised the level of how this franchise is regarded and all the players in the league look at Cuban and go "oh, that guy'll spend any amount of money". I think the Mavericks have become more attractive to the marquee players.

My last question: is Dallas still a football city?

Dallas is still a football city and will be so until a giant meteor hits the planet and it turns into dust. It was funny, there were conversations about "could Dallas ever be a baseball town? They reached the World Series!" You know, what's gonna happen is the Mavericks are going to be more popular than they were, and people will be more receptive to them, those kinds of things. But just to put it in perspective, the Mavericks game six here locally had almost a 40 share, which is just absurd, and that's still 14 points lower than the Cowboys' Super Bowl when they beat the Steelers. So it's always going to be a football town.

You know, I grew up here and my dad was a basketball coach, so we were a basketball family, and we were in the minority. I mean it's football, football, football. That's not a bad thing. I think what the Mavericks and the Rangers try and do is steal the spotlight when they get a chance, and that's what both of those teams have done this year. The Cowboys were bad, the Rangers went to the World Series for the first time ever, the Mavericks have their championship for the first time ever. So they're stealing some spotlight, they're enjoying it while it's shining on them, but when August rolls around everyone's going to be thinking football nonstop. That's just the way it goes around here.

Quick anecdote:

Ben (Rogers) and I went out to the LA to cover the All-Star game and we set up an interview with Dirk. And we asked Dirk, ‘hey, what is there to go do in LA?" And he didn't know. And we were taken aback to hear the guy who had been in the league for, what, 13 seasons, and he doesn't know what to do in LA? And the reason he doesn't know is because he goes and shoots baskets. That's what the guy does. That's what the guy does for fun. He plays basketball, he works on his game. And so at the big championship party, he said "Well, Holger said that if we took care of business in game six he would let me have a night off." And it was a joke, but it's not that far from the truth.

Many thanks to Skin for his time and insight.