Though the Mavs still don't have a true power forward, they should be improved on offense via Beaubois' ability to create his own shot and on defense by Chandler's length in the lane. In a Western Conference weakened by the departures of stars such as Carlos Boozer (from Utah), Amare Stoudemire (from Phoenix) and potentially Carmelo Anthony (from Denver), the Mavs are no doubt an elite team geared toward an 11th consecutive 50-win season and another lofty seeding in the playoffs.

The Mavericks' consistency is the most impressive in this area since the Cowboys' unprecedented 20 consecutive winning seasons from 1966-'85. But are the fans' reservoirs diluted?

Are they emotionally gutted? Or just temporarily distracted?

For now the Mavericks are attempting to lure you back with bells and whistles and smoke and mirrors. They're trumpeting the Heat's visit on November 27, offering a "Rivalry Pack" ticket package featuring Miami, the Spurs and Lakers. The NBA is debuting new, tighter, sleeker uniforms and, of course, the Mavs will offer a tweaked color scheme. And, as an annual rite of early October, there is the promise. The hope. The rhetoric.

"I came here to compete for a ring," Chandler said.

Echoed Butler, "With this team we have in place, I want to win it all."

Come, oh, say February—long after the Rangers fall short and the Cowboys lose in the Super Bowl—Seinfeld will again be appealing on a cold, dark weeknight. Costanza will find a job and Roddy will score 30 and Cosmo will trip over a skateboard and Tyson will throw down a monster dunk off an alley-oop and we'll all be teased by and invested in a show we've seen tons of times before. But in the end, whether it's 30 minutes of a sitcom or seven games of a playoff series, we know how it ends.

Right?

Of course, it could be worse.

Anyone heard a peep from the Dallas Stars?

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