Up until about 15 minutes ago (as of the writing of this article), Rick Carlisle and Chandler Parsons had been feuding about Parsons' weight and conditioning. It was a silly, funny little spat.
Carlisle, in his typical snide, half-joking way, insinuated that Parsons needed to spend more time working on his conditioning. Parsons did not take it too well, responding with an even-more-hilarious instagram photo of his (totally rocking) abs, in an attempt to prove Carlisle's jabs wrong.
Now, however, the silliness of what has been deemed "abpocalypse" has officially worn off. Rick Carlisle has publicly apologized to Chandler Parsons, in a relatively stunning turn of events.
Carlisle's apology is dead serious, saying that his "bad example," is "beneath the dignity of a championship team." What was just a moment ago a silly spat between a hard-knock coach and a young, party-loving basketball player is suddenly a very serious matter upon which Championships can hinge.
Full statement from Rick Carlisle pic.twitter.com/2HyhLHc7hx— Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) October 12, 2014
Make sure to follow Mavs beat writer Earl K Sneed on twitter for more on this story.
Given the gravity that the apology has produced, it would seem to carry a bit more weight than just an ending tiff, but what, exactly, is going on in Carlisle's apology is a bit difficult to dissect.
The main thing that's so bizarre about the apology is how rarely Carlisle ever apologizes for anything. He says that it was "unfair to single out Parsons," making that his primary offense that he's apologizing for, but Carlisle singles out his players all the time. In fact, that's what he always does. Singling out people is his MO.
So why is it a problem now? Why is this the time for Carlisle to apologize?
The answer, really, is that the people he likes to single out (Darren Collison, OJ Mayo, and Samuel Dalembert all come to mind) were never on multi-year contracts with the team, and more importantly, were never the highest paid player on the team.
The issue here is that if Parsons was offended, and if that offense led to any even vaguely serious rift between Parsons and the team or even just Parsons and the coaching staff, that's a serious long-term problem. They're relying on Parsons too much for him to be put off by the team so early.
So, Carlisle apologized, and rightfully so. It was an awkward apology, perhaps it's over-serious, stiff, and dramatic, but, that could just be a function of Carlisle's struggle to manage team personalities.
And, as others have pointed out, such an awkward apology still shifts the public concern and emphasis off of Parsons and puts it back on Carlisle. In other words, the apology did what it was supposed to do. Probably.
It's a very weird apology to read, though, because Carlisle has always coached with an iron fist. He doesn't take crap from anybody and if you get in his doghouse you're probably there forever.
He holds you to a certain standard, and if he gets on to you for not meeting that standard he does. not. apologize.
That Carlisle has deigned it wise to apologize in this instance is so odd, in part, because it means that, for once, Carlisle is breaking his image of the iron-fisted coach that he has cultivated over the years.
In apologizing, Carlisle is giving Parsons quite a bit of leverage. Parsons "won" this round, in a sense.
Parsons probably deserved to win, too, partly because he's unquestionably in great shape -- and so Carlisle's comments can come off as something uncomfortably close to weight-shaming -- and partly because, as Carlisle recognized, keeping Parsons in good team spirits is really essential to Dallas' prospects next year.
So there's nothing wrong with Carlisle's apology, but it does introduce a new element into the team dynamic: the flexible, even fallible, coach.
Carlisle has never allowed himself to be viewed as anything but the leader, whose word was law. Now, though, both to the players and to the fans and media, Carlisle is fallible, and Carlisle can be wrong. He can be argued with.
He can apologize.