By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Walk under a ladder. Get yourself pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Or, to ensure bad luck, crappy karma and repugnant results, just get on my pissy side.
Turns out my hater hex really, really works.
It started a couple years ago when I—like most sports fans in Dallas—tired of Terrell Owens' selfish, divisive antics. In a seemingly innocent, impromptu remark, I "wished failure" on T.O.'s noggin. Almost immediately he was cut by the Dallas Cowboys. Soon thereafter, his television reality show finished behind something called Brandy & Mr. Whiskers in the ratings and was canceled. Ultimately he signed with, and subsequently disappeared in, Buffalo.
With T.O.'s demise accomplished and sensing I had unleashed some sort of evil genie from an empty bottle of Hennessy, I wished for—in no particular order—a winning lottery ticket, eternal primo parking spots and flawless grammar. I ain't yet stopped complaining about long walks to work from pay lots, but my personal voodoo is somehow more effective than ever. No?
A year ago—with Owens' fall from relevance secure—I transferred my desired failure toward golfer Tiger Woods. He, of course, proceeded to lose his wife, reputation and No. 1 ranking. When I redirected my hex on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, he almost immediately lost his No. 1 receiver (Sidney Rice), his health, his team's playoff hopes and, lest we forget, had some very uncouth sexting become public.
And most recently, my target was the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. Not surprisingly, the disingenuous star who left Texas with a "me and 24 kids" slap to the face suffered an unproductive American League Championship Series, hitting only .190 with no homers and striking out looking to climax the Rangers' first trip to the World Series. (Contrary to public perception and the correlating professional pratfall, I did not wish failure on Wade Phillips.)
Can't explain how this works. I can merely select my next deserving subject.
Though, after watching them laughably lose to the Dallas Mavericks last Saturday night at American Airlines Center, it's clear that Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat don't need my help to suck.
It was supposed to be an electric, memorable night. Cowboys receiver Miles Austin and Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler were in the sellout crowd. With so many fans in the building for their one visit a year, it felt like church on Easter. All there to view something amazing and unforgettable, along the lines of Halley's Comet or one last leftover turkey sandwich squeezed from last week's Thanksgiving feast.
Instead, it was a lopsided NBA game in November. Yawn. A very good Mavericks team 106, a disjointed and—let's admit it—boring Heat team 95. LeBron James took his talents from South Beach to Middle Dallas and...got his ass kicked.
The Mavs led by only two points at halftime but started the third quarter on a 13-0 run as the Heat missed their first 10 shots. Instead of magical Miami, the Heat looked like a talented group of individuals thrown together for a pick-up game. With no inside presence to supplement their perimeter prima donnas, Mavs center Tyson Chandler dominated with 14 points and 17 rebounds.
The Heat stayed at the swanky Crescent and turned heads with their pizzazz, but Miami can keep the Heat. While the Mavericks improved to 12-4 with their fourth win in five nights, the team that some labeled the "greatest ever" before they first bounced a ball fell to 9-8 and held a 40-minute players-only meeting.
"Right now we're a 9-8 team, and we have to own up to that," James said. "We know we're so talented individually, but we think we can have lapses."
Around here we know we're spoiled rotten because the Mavs are on pace for another 50-plus-win playoff season and it takes a glitzy opponent to get us amped for hoops. Dirk Nowitzki is better than ever, currently second in the NBA in scoring. Jason Kidd is aggressive, Caron Butler is improved and Chandler is a significant physical and psychological upgrade in Dallas' interior. Any questions about the Mavs again being an elite team were answered last week when they beat the Pistons, Thunder, Spurs (snapping San Antonio's 12-game winning streak) and Heat in a five-night span. The Mavs swept a 4-in-5 set for only the third time in 108 tries. Buoyed by the NBA's best zone, they are among the league's best defenses. And to think, center Brendan Haywood isn't on the same page (suspended one game last week after a spat with head coach Rick Carlisle) and spark-plug guard Roddy Beaubois isn't yet on the court (still two weeks from playing after fracturing his foot over the summer).
Much as we love the Mavs, we should remember to hate the Heat.
I despise Wade for the way he drama-queened his way past the Mavs in the 2006 NBA Finals—yes playing superbly but also amplifying defenders' contact with dramatic, flailing falls. The way he tries to play so nonchalantly, as if he's so good and so cool that he beats you half-asleep. The way he's revered as "D-Wade," the guy who can single-handedly will teams to victory, even though since '06 Miami hasn't won a single playoff series. And especially the way he helped orchestrate James and Bosh to Miami, then yacked about winning six titles together before training camp commenced.