This is a contributed story. We are accepting story pitches all offseason; here's how you can send us one.
F. Clint DeNisco, Contributing Writer (@FClintDeNisco)
Barring some miracle, it's inevitable that the Mavericks will soon be going through the mind-numbing phase of seeing a superstar leave and trying to find an identity.
Who will their new star be? How long until that happens? What new identity will they take on and will it be another big man shooter? Or even, what will our new style of play look like without the big German?
Hey! Let's hold up a second. Last time I checked, Dirk still is with the Mavs. (And I periodically google "Is Dirk still with us?" so I'm sure.) He's not even leaving within the next two years, as far as we know. So I need to extend a notion to the Mavericks world and myself: calm down. For the love of God, calm down. We should instead be excited for what these next few years have to offer. For a couple reasons.
1. We need to enjoy Dirk while it's not a memory
If you're reading this as a Mavericks fan, that means you are cognitive enough to watch the games and actually experience them when historic or even slightly memorable moments happen, in real time. I have so many mementos with my high school basketball team where I look back on those moments being as storied as a brilliant novel, but at the time, I was just rushing for it to end, because the season after was going to be our "successful" season.
I see this a lot in our Mavs fandom and it really can be a blur. The 2003-04 season is like that for me. The Mavericks had Antawn Jamison and were a five seed that got obliterated by the Kings in the first round?... oh yeah, I guess I remember that. But there were some great times during that season, even then.
The Mavericks have a top-20 player (and that's being conservative) of ALL TIME that REVOLUTIONIZED his position and how the NBA works ... on OUR team ... right now. Not in a black and white photo from the past. He still has some game-winning shots, full-hearted effort games, and fallaway jumpers to be experienced as they happen.
I'd rather bask in these days with him, then plan the course when we give him the old-age boot.
2. This roster can still successfully fall into place
This doesn't have to be a two-year Nowitzki memorial, skidding across the year with sub-par results waiting for the new era. If everything goes right, Dallas could have a surprise team that isn't unheard of in a highly game-style-dependent NBA. (See how good the Celtics were last year with literally a group of sixth men.) Rondo was a disaster last year, because he did the one thing that can really bring this team down: Not let Carlisle do his thing.
An in-depth look at possible outcomes for Dallas' success has been explicated here.
But what I'll say is that the best parallel for this was the crystallized championship team. They weren't the most talented players in the world; they were just the right mix of players and coach. The 2003 Mavs team technically had a more talented team than 2011, with Nash, Nowitzki, Finley and even a 7-foot-6 man ... but that ended without a ring. Sometimes it's just the right group of people that mesh well with Carlisle's ideas to beat a team. Williams, Nowitzki, Matthews and the front court tandem could possibly provide that.
Another big maybe with this is Justin Anderson.
You never know with rookies if they'll be a valuable asset. Sure, you can tell if they're going to be Magic Johnson or not, but people didn't know what Harden was going to be in his first year and now ... well unfortunately ...
Anyways, Justin Anderson has got the teamwork background of Virginia to really be a perfect fit with this Mavericks team. You can't really judge too distinctly a player during summer league, so we still have a lot to look forward to as fans watching this young man, but we're hopeful.
Keep in mind; I don't say this with a plastered smile on my face. I'm not an advertiser. I just can see the optimistic possibilities here. They're a team we care about and boy could they go a lot of different ways this year. But we're here to enjoy it. Basket by basket. Dirk's a player that is valuable, important, historic, inspirational, and all those words ... to Dallas. Let's enjoy it.
No point of following this team if we just "deal with" some seasons. Let's be fans. Mavs Fans For Life.