“Good feelings.” That’s how Luka described his thoughts on the upcoming season at Dirk’s charity tennis event Sunday. And when Luka has good feelings, good things happen. When Luka believes, special things happen. Never underestimate the role feelings play in basketball.
Seeing Dirk and Luka together Sunday was special for Mavs fans. Dirk rubbing Luka’s hair like a proud father, the two of them tennis trash-talking.
And then came media day, Monday, which a lot of us had been looking forward to.
Despite many of us being disappointed in the offseason, and discussion about a third ball-handler flaring up on Twitter every other day like knee soreness for a retired basketball player, we have a team on the first day of training camp, which seems to share one important and season-defining feature: They believe.
They believe in each other, they believe in the team and they believe in themselves.
"It's simple for me. We've just got to believe we can make it."— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 26, 2022
Luka Doncic talks Mavs' postseason expectations with @mikecwright at #NBAMediaDay pic.twitter.com/uqvoBW90zB
Maxi Kleber even said that the trust the team had in each other and the belief they had in themselves were a large part of why they made it to the WCF last season.
Christian Wood also came motivated into media day, in the best shape of his life (s/o to Sean Sweeney, who had been working with him on his defense for the last months). He told reporters that he was “motivated either way” coming off the bench or starting and added to the LockedOn Mavs guys that his goal was to be an All Star this year.
And JaVale McGee, the only player with a ring on the team, went a step further, showing that he and Luka are on the same page: “My goal every year is to win damn near every single game. All 82… If you not coming in with that mindset, you not on my side at all.”
He has won 3 championships and believes in a number 4 with the Mavs. “It’s really the implementation of putting it into these young buck-a-roos and showing them what it takes,” he said.
The offseason may have been disappointing, but you know what? We are fans. We need to believe too. And it’s ok to believe that it’s going to be an amazing season, where the Mavs overperform yet again, to believe that mediocre performers will step up, that role players will have record years and that new players will have a chance to be All Stars.
And you know what? It works. Look at last year. A superstar and a group of role players made it to the WCF because they believed. Are the Mavs a better team without Jalen Brunson? Probably not. But the team will make up for the loss in other ways.
Will Christian Wood be the big we all wished for during the playoffs? Chances are he will. He certainly seems to believe that he can reach his potential with the Mavs.
Just like Luka, we have a belief in this team that transcends rational argumentation and sometimes logic. So when the season starts, we all know what to do: We are fans and we believe.
And if this season ends badly, we’ll still believe again next year.