Media days in sports are the adult equivalent of when students get their class schedule in high school. After a summer off, you see the people you’ll spend the next 6-8 months with and figure out what’s going on in the upcoming year.
Younger students and reporters ask their elders what to expect for the upcoming season and meet their new classmates and peers. Players, like students, line up to have their new pictures taken for various media outlets and Getty Image folders.
That’s where this extended metaphor stops. Unlike the start of the school year, media day attendees don’t usually learn much. All these media day conversations have been rehearsed by both sides before they actually happen. Some answers are so scripted that the news stories could be written before the day with the quotes filled in with relative accuracy.
That’s how these days are supposed to work. Moments of genuine unscripted reaction are so rare and fleeting, if you’re not actively looking for them you’ll miss every single one.
Let’s sit down and see what we can learn about this new school year.
One question Mavs fans repeatedly ask is if Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic are friends. All signs from Media Day and all other days point to a resounding yes. The two youngins live in the same apartment complex and have posted some of their Fortnite wins together on their social media.
A friendship between the two young cornerstones of this franchise will help Doncic adjust to life in the U.S. Not only that, but a trust built between the two off the court should help their chemistry on it.
Most likely to be a stand up comic
Another big thing we learned is that DeAndre Jordan might be the funniest guy on the team.
DeAndre Jordan walks up to the podium and says “Black Dirk is here” to a chorus of laughter.— Mavs Moneyball (@mavsmoneyball) September 21, 2018
He’ll fit in just fine here.
When Jordan was about to walk in, the media was anticipating the forthcoming barrage of questions about Emojigate. Jordan just strutted up to the podium with a huge smile and says, “black Dirk is here,” which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the questions.
He handled himself well and was honest about 2015. In the middle of his time at the podium someone opened the door just off stage and he yelled “hey shut the door I’m trying to talk in here.” I think he was yelling at Wes Matthews.
Jordan was not what I expected, and I think Mavericks fans will love having DeAndre on the team this year.
The weirdest question asked on Friday was to Harrison Barnes about Kevin Durant. A reporter asked both Barnes and Dennis Smith about a report claiming Kevin Durant was entertaining the possibility of joining the Lakers next year.
Harrison Barnes just stared at the reporter in confusion and asked him to clarify his question. Barnes probably was wondering, like the rest of us, why the guy even asked that question.
A more relevant, but surprising moment came from the first question to Rick Carlisle. The head coach was asked about Dirk coming off the bench. I expected that Carlisle wouldn’t answer this question straight up and that we likely wouldn’t know his role until opening night.
Right away, Carlisle said, “Dirk will likely come off the bench.” Maybe it was expected that Dirk would come off the bench this season, but I didn’t think Rick and Dirk would be so forthright in saying so.
It’s good they were up front. The MFFL faithful need time to prepare themselves for a world in which Dirk Nowitzki isn’t the starting power forward for the Dallas Mavericks.
The photo of Dennis and Luka wearing cowboy hats happened right about the time I finally figured out where the action was happening.
It’s fairly safe to assume that Doncic has never warn a cowboy hat before this moment, but now he knows that he’s always wanted one. The reason Dennis and Doncic were wearing cowboy hats was to recreate the iconic shot of Nash, Nowitzki, and Cuban from many years ago.
Welp. They did it. Sort of... pic.twitter.com/c0Gl3fu0qn— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) September 21, 2018
Right before the three set up for that picture, Mavs employees walked around aggressively yelling “CAMERAS DOWN, CELL PHONES DOWN.” It was a bit confusing why they didn’t want us taking pictures of Dennis and Luka with a random third person but we obliged.
In this version, the photographer chose to replace Mark Cuban with someone none of the seasoned reporters around me recognized. The third is Keith Grant, who is apparently the Mavericks Assistant General Manager. Cuban was in the building for media day, but he stayed away from the more public areas of media day.
The most genuine moment from Luka Doncic came when he talked about his favorite music. Luka listed off a variety of genres before mentioning Drake. The reporter followed up by asking if Doncic knew Drake was coming to Dallas next week.
His eyes lit up as he responded “are you serious?” For a brief moment Luka’s exuberance shone through and reminded us he’s still 19. Most of the day Doncic showed the face of a reserved veteran who acts like he’s been a professional for six years (because he has).
When I talked with a Slovenian media member he noted how Luka is still very much a child but also very much a man. Seeing both sides of his personality will soon endear him to the Mavericks faithful.
A final great moment came during a shot of Dirk and Luka Doncic. TJ Macias describes it perfectly in a tweet.
This has to be one of my favorite photo sequences that I caught today: the photographer wanted Luka and Dirk to look at each other seriously (or like they’re in love, whichever) and they both broke into fits of laughter after about one second of looking at each other. #Mavs pic.twitter.com/ThKiwubiFZ— TJ Macías (@NefariousSiren) September 21, 2018
Now that media day in the books, it looks like we’ve learned a lot. The schedule is here and our upperclassmen gave us great insight into what to expect for this upcoming semester.
Bring your backpacks, friends, because school is back in session!