clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Mavericks' championship 5 years ago now make their struggles both better and worse

New, comments

Dallas is a shell of itself, much like a certain beloved cinematic superhero, making it difficult to process how to feel and how to be disappointed.

Warner Bros., John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

It was about 1:45 a.m. on a Saturday night when the credits rolled. I know this because I looked at my phone exactly when it happened -- I was tired and all I wanted to do was go home. I had just finished seeing Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The first time a live-action Batman graced a movie screen since 2012 and all I wanted to do was go home. I didn't want to talk much about it with the friend I went and saw it with. I mumbled "well that was certainly a thing," with no real conviction behind it. My friend agreed.

We left the theater, I got into my truck and I drove straight home. I crawled immediately into bed. It was strange.

I did not like that movie, I thought. I really didn't. Which is the first time I felt that about a live-action Batman movie after leaving the theater in well, ever.

Sunday morning I awoke, still grumpy about the previous night. I knew the movie was going to be trash months, years even, before release but it still disappointed me. Later that night, I turned on the Mavericks game against the Kings. Much like the movie, the Mavs were total trash that night. I watched silently and then went to bed. Expected, but somehow disappointed again.

I shouldn't care, but I do.

***

It's a really strange time to be a Mavericks fan, especially if you're anywhere between your twenties and thirties. After a decade plus of dominance, the Mavericks are painfully mediocre -- they've won four playoff games since 2011, made the playoffs three times (at no point higher than a seventh seed) and had a really macabre quest for .500 in 2013 where a proud franchise decided to grow beards and fight for a number that didn't mean anything in a lost season.

Somehow, it keeps getting worse. Off-season bungling, bad luck, whatever you'd like to call it -- these Mavericks are in bad shape. Dipping three games below .500, at one point, before Monday's win in Denver, this is easily the most depressing team since the title.

Yes, worse than the Mike James year. At least that season the Mavericks had some guys in the rotation under 25-years-old.

The path to getting better isn't any clearer than it was when the title team disbanded in 2011. Same basic principles apply -- hit on free agency, get lucky -- despite the proof it hasn't worked yet. Dallas will be without a draft pick this summer, most of the roster will be free to leave (again) and the Mavericks will have to retool the rotation (again) and deal with a key player undergoing knee surgery (again). Perhaps the Mavs can reboot with second-tier free agents and give Dirk one last run. That's about all the hope there is right now, anyway.

It's disappointing. But should it? After all, we're a lucky generation of Mavs fans. We saw a title.

We saw the Mavericks win a title.

There are plenty of people not on this earth anymore that were diehard fans of the franchise that didn't get to see that. They probably waited their whole lives for the moment that eventually came in June of 2011 and didn't get to see it. We did. It wasn't even that long ago! It's a fresh memory.

Even for those of us that saw it, there are some that have seen the Mavericks at way worse moments back in the 1990s. Compared to then, the last five years hasn't really been that bad all things considered. Hell, compare that to the last five years of other franchises that are piddling around, not even making the playoffs.

The Mavericks have it better off than most other NBA franchises -- they have a recent title, a beloved superstar still producing, a team in the playoff hunt. That's all you can really ask for.

Is it entitled to feel let down? I'm not sure. I don't know how to feel. The nostalgia is still fresh enough but just distant enough to cause this weird, drowning malaise over how I feel about the team. It's reflected not just in the general blah-ness from me, it's everywhere. People in Dallas are watching women's college basketball and spring training baseball more than the Mavericks. Yet there isn't this public, crying outrage like you see with other franchises that are doing poorly. The Mavs still have their "sellout" streak, the American Airlines center remains largely full of people every game.

We're all just sort of drifting -- still coasting from the title yet upset that we've grown so complacent with mediocrity yet too complacent to do much about it.

***

There's a scene early on in Batman v Superman that, somehow, left me enthralled and hoping for more. It's the first appearance of Batman in the movie and in the story, one of his first appearances since coming back from retirement of the cape and cowl. (If you're still waiting to see the movie and concerned about spoilers, there are a few minor ones coming up.)

A couple of police officers respond to a call and enter a dilapidated building -- obviously were in the slums of Gotham. They see a group of a women, clearly kidnapped for sex trafficking, terrified. The officer asks that he's here to help but one of woman responds that they've been saved. A demon saved them.

The officer tries to let them out of their cage but they're too scared to come out -- the demon is still here, she says.

It's a little hamfisted with the dialogue, but it gets the point across. The best part is the actors sell it. The young officer is legit horrified about what's in the building and when he discovers a pummeled crook chained up, you can see, although blurred in the background behind him, the Batman

Not Batman, but THE Batman. There's a difference. The officer notices the criminal looking over his shoulder and he swings around and wildly shoots at the Batman as the camera frantically follows his aim before Batman disappears without you barely getting a real good look at him.

It's honestly a pretty damn fantastic Batman scene, harking back to Christopher Nolan's introduction to Batman in Batman Begins, where Batman takes down a lot of crooks at a harbor. For about five minutes, I thought despite all the other bullshit in this movie, Batman would be fine.

Needless to say, after watching Batman gun down criminals purposefully in the batmobile, batwing and hell, just grabbing some guns and doing it himself, it was clear I wasn't getting my Batman. I was getting Zack Snyder's Batman and it was trash. Just absolute trash. No matter how much Ben Affleck tried to elevate the material, it was trash material.

I left the theater disappointed. I thought about the Mavericks the following day. I thought about how silly it is to be disappointed in a Batman movie when over the past decade I got a trilogy of Batman movies that were absolute perfection in my eyes. It didn't matter what anyone else thought -- I got my dream with those films, and they'll always be there.

I got my dream with the Mavericks too, five years ago. Yet just like I was leaving the theater that Saturday night, I feel dejected every time watch them play. I get mad thinking that Dirk's best stretch of scoring since that title team has seen the team go 2-7 in said games.

Then I remember the title. I get complacent again. I get disinterested. Nostalgia warps my perception. I should be angrier, but I'm not. I don't really feel anything.

That's perhaps the worst of it all.