If you haven't read Zach Lowe's in-depth dive into the Mavericks, you're missing out. Here's where you can correct that mistake. But if you don't have the time or need convincing, here are some of the highlights from the piece.
We have to start with Dirk Nowitzki's trash talking, where he tells people to learn Chinese.
Nowitzki has long set a self-deprecating tone that shows every newcomer no one is bigger than the team. He is merciless in mocking everyone and happy when people toss insults back. "You should learn Chinese because you'll be in China soon," is one of his favorite ways of needling someone after a bad game.
Dirk's always had a feisty and self-deprecating sense of humor, so this lines up perfectly. It's not hard to imagine that he's at the forefront of these insults, too.
The Mavs even ridicule the wounded. After wins in which, say, Parsons sits out, the team will chant, "Parsons out, Mavs roll!" They do it for everyone as a gentle reminder: "We can survive without you."
Lowe also reported about Dirk's training regime: he takes time before every game to shoot left-handed, part of an elaborate scheme to keep him balanced and symmetrical. According to some metrics that the Dallas training staff has shared across the league, Dirk is the "most balanced" player in the NBA.
Zaza Pachulia's no fun leadership
Make no mistake: Pachulia can have fun. I've seen it in the locker room, rolling with jokes about how big his head is and occasionally shooting a wisecrack back at a teammate or even a familiar media member.
But Pachulia wasn't having it. Before Carlisle walked in, Pachulia chastised his teammates for letting Kobe Bryant pop open on a set play -- a play they'd see over and over, he told them -- late in the fourth quarter, when the game was already decided. Teammates and staff stood silent, unsure whether to laugh or nod.
"Man, we can't even enjoy a win?" Nowitzki reacted.
But as Lowe writes, Pachulia's message was that this team wasn't good enough to not worry about the little details. And he's totally right!
Carlisle's pop quizzes
We learned years ago that Carlisle favored pen-and-paper quizzes before games, but as time has gone along, so has the technology he uses.
The new plays and video work can be tough to internalize, so Carlisle has stepped up his game-day tests, players say. He has ditched pen-and-paper for iPad-based exams. Players watch clips of the Mavs or their next opponent, and the clips freeze at key moments. Then a multiple-choice question pops up asking what the Dallas player pictured should do: switch on defense, pass to a cutter, go under a screen, etc. The team grades players on speed and accuracy, though some of the veterans, including Nowitzki, blow off the tests.
Not Pachulia. "I was like, 'Come on, a test?'" he said. "I did this in school, but not in basketball. But it works. You take the tests, and you start to remember things better."
I could keep quoting more, but it's all in Lowe's piece. If you haven't been convinced to give it a read yet, here's the link again.