With Mavericks Coach Jim Cleamons and GM Don Nelson, life's a constant battle for position

On the court, the Mavericks do not look particularly impressive--though they manage to score 19 points in the final six minutes of the third quarter. Their Triangle looks more like a rhomboid.

"They don't see the little nuances," Cleamons says of his team as he stands in the locker room after the game. "But I've got to be patient. I can't be rantin' and ravin'. These guys are out there because they want to play, and now I've got to be a good teacher. Two weeks ago today was their first practice. What the heck do they know? But I'm not disappointed. I keep tellin' them, 'Guys, I'm not angry about anything. I'm coaching. I'm teaching. Don't take my animation and the raise in my voice negatively.' I'm just doing my best to do what I do. I'm their biggest cheerleader, and what I've seen in the last two weeks, hell, I'll take it. We're learnin', we're growin'. That's a good thing."

And in the end, Jim Cleamons might well be a good thing for the Dallas Mavericks--a coach who doesn't celebrate a victory, who looks beyond the game clock and the stats sheet.

If he succeeds in Dallas, if he can outlast the skeptics who believe Don Nelson wants him gone yesterday, it will be because he can convince team management that the Mavericks have a whole lot of losing left to do before they ever win again.

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