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Roundtable: What sports can do for us

Sports is sometimes about a lot more than sports

LA Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

On Friday, Collin Cable wrote an incredibly moving story about how Luka Doncic playing for the Mavericks helped him get through the tragic loss of his brother and an addiction. If you haven’t taken the time to do so, click and read it right now. If you’re comfortable, tell us about a Maverick game or season that stands out in your mind on a personal level.

Ryan: It’s going to sound cliche and full of recency bias, but the Luka game-winner in Game 4 vs. the Clippers will forever be special to me. Undoubtedly the defining moment of Doncic’s young career, he hit his most memorable step-back at a time when my life felt like a complete mess.

I had just moved into my new apartment a few days prior to Game 4. On top of all of the challenges moving into an apartment present, my mind was also busy thinking about what going to college during a pandemic would look like. Maybe more than anything, I wondered what covering college basketball (my main gig) would look like, or if I would even be able to. Though my mind was full of thoughts, Luka’s had just one that day: making that shot. As the ball came off his fingertips, it felt like it sat in the air for forever. A few inches to the left or right and I would’ve been left with a devastating Mavs loss on top of everything else. But, he’s Luka, so he made the shot.

The next few seconds were a frenzy of yelling, jumping, and profanities. The next few minutes were a slew of enjoyment as I saw everyone else’s reaction on Twitter and in messages. The next few hours were a binge of writing. Eventually the immediate excitement of the shot wore off, but the memory it created never did.

The day after the shot just so happened to be my first day of school for the new semester. While I had PLENTY to worry about that day, I felt more positive and optimistic than I typically am. Seeing everyone in their Luka jersey or Mavs shirts that day (despite the fact that I’m hours from the Metroplex) reminded me of something special.

Basketball — for those that love it — is therapeutic. It gives us community, fandom, hope, consistency, and some incredible thrills. There have been some VERY tough years. I don’t just mean the 24 win season in 17-18 or the entire Raj*n R*ndo debacle, but there have been some tough times in my own life. I’m sure you’ve had yours as well. But just like that Luka shot, there’s always been something there waiting for me after the bumps in the road.

Sam: This is an easy one, but Dirk’s last game was a memorable and emotional game for me. For as long as I had been a Mavericks’ fan, Dirk was the torch barer. I don’t remember the super early years, but as an eight, nine and 10 year old, my love for basketball began to grow at the same time Dirk started to grow into an NBA superstar. As Dirk and the Mavericks battled their playoff foes, like the Kings, Suns and Spurs, my competitive drive developed. When Dirk and the Mavericks collapsed against teams like the Heat and We Believe Warriors, I, as a moody and hormonal adolescent, thought I felt as much heartbreak as he did, though obviously that wasn’t the case. And when Dirk and the Mavericks finally won the championship, I saw first hand what hard work, integrity, grit and perseverance can do over the course of several years.

In a sense, when Dirk retired, so did a significant phase of my life. In my most formative years, Dirk was my role model. And I like to think the way I approach several aspects of my life are the same ways Dirk did in his playing career with humility, diligence and a little self-deprecation. I was an emotional wreck during Dirk’s last game, and I’ll always remember how perplexed my wife (a native Oklahoman) was watching me fight back tears as montage after montage played on the broadcast. I couldn’t explain it then, and I can’t quite explain it now. But a big part of my life was officially over, and it was a moment I will never forget.

Kirk: The 2013-14 season was really special in general to me. I wrote about it here at the time and it’s still one of the better things I’ve written. My dog Grace struggled through brain cancer and when we finally decided to put her to sleep, the days prior were among the hardest for me. She had a truly scary seizure that she didn’t come out from and I had to take her to the animal hospital by myself, as my wife was out of town. The next few days were terrible as I had to clean our house (she had bit her tongue and there was blood everywhere) and make a number of choices about my first dog’s future alone. It all broke me in a way that took years to cope with.

But basketball was there the whole time. And that bizarre Maverick team was fun. So I’m not sure if the team was as fun as I remember or if I’m just placing an emphasis on what fun they brought me when I really needed it. I still remember breaking down in tears when Vince Carter hit that shot. It was just one shot on a team that wasn’t really going anywhere but it brought me joy for the first time in weeks. That feeling of joy, when sports hits right, there’s just nothing like it.