If you haven't heard already, there's a fun story about the Mavericks circulating the interwebs today, regarding a new spin on the "playoff beard". It's common to see certain players make a pact not to shave until they either are ousted from the playoffs or win it all, but in Dallas, there's no shaving until they reach .500.
Via Brian Townsend of the Dallas Morning News:
Nowitzki was asked: What’s the deal about the beards several Mavericks are sporting? And does Dirk’s wife, Jessica, approve of it?
"Not really," Nowitzki said in response to the second question.
He said the mostly team-wide beard pact was started about two weeks ago by O.J. Mayo, Dahntay Jones and Vince Carter.
"We said we’re not going to shave until we’re back to .500," Nowitzki said. "So it’s been rough. There’s been some itching going on. And since we’re still down seven games below .500, that’s a long way to go."
It's a fun story, and some good national attention for a team that's been taking a beating from the national media this season. Although O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter are already bearded brothers, seeing Dirk sporting a beard is surprisingly amazing. So dignified.
Include in some of the other participants, like the 22-year-old Jae Crowder (he's trying...he's really trying) and caveman Kaman, and this beard pact has promise to be one of the more amusing sidenotes to a season in recent years. Anything to take our attention away from yet another ill-advised turnover.
Now if the team could just get Rick Carlisle to buy in. Here's a picture of Jim Carrey with a beard (which we all know is actually Rick from another universe)...just imagine that patrolling the sidelines daring a young official to make a bad call. The official might just reverse it simply out of fear for the beard.
All silliness aside, this beard pact does actually mean something. Although there are fans of the team who've already given up this season and declared tanking to be the right philosophy for the future, it's clear the players haven't. These is a squad of veteran players unaccustomed to losing, and they take it seriously.
Sure, there's nothing "serious" about a beard pact, but the part about returning to .500 isn't a joke. This team seriously believes they can even their record, and though nobody said it, there's playoff ambitions lying after that.
Inside the locker room, this is a team embarrassed about their record. Dirk's quote shows he knows exactly where this team is and where they need to go, and he sure thinks they can get there. Nobody's given up and nobody's tanking.
I don't know if the Mavericks can make the playoffs or not, but they haven't stopped trying. Whether trying for the 8th draft pick rather than gunning for the 8th seed is the way the Mavericks should be approaching the rest of the season doesn't matter when it's clear that the players have their minds set on which path they're going to take.
Appreciate the beards for however long they last, but save your real appreciation for when the Mavericks who've joined in are finally able to shave. It'll take real work to find their way back to a razor, but they certainly believe they can. I wouldn't count them out just yet.