Here's something to make your daily slog through this daily bog of Mavs news-n-notes from around the country a little more palatable, not to mention profitable: Last night, the Dallas Mavericks' owner, Mark Whassiname, announced he would be giving away 500 pair of tickets to Game 7 of the NBA Finals, to be played Thursday night at the American Airlines Center if necessary (and, my friend, it had better be necessary). Now, I guess you could look at this one of two ways: Maybe it's bad luck to give away tix to Game 7 before Game 6 has even tipped off, a la that parade route the city and the team started drawing up after Game 2, or maybe it's just Cuban's way of saying thanks and sorry for his outburst after Game 5, when he told a reporter to ask "a real fuckin' question." (Not that he didn't have every right; asking him if that was the worst loss of his life was a real stupid fuckin' question.) Either way, here's how you do it: At 10 a.m. today, go to the Mavs' Web site and fill out the registration form located in the "NBA Finals Game 7 Ticket Giveaway" section. Simple as that. There's but one stipulation--you gotta live within 75 miles of the AAC--but that's all you need to do to be eligible for the random drawing. Should you actually win, you'll be notified by 5 p.m. tomorrow...assuming, of course, Your Dallas Mavericks live to see a tomorrow.
And, says Mavs head coach Avery Johnson, his team had better play like there's no tomorrow: "And I like that 'no tomorrow' feeling for our team," he insisted to the media yesterday, when there was a tomorrow called today. That was after Johnson had cooled off, of course; the coach and his owner and the players pretty much spent yesterday getting their hands slapped and wallets lightened by the league after Dirk Nowitzki kicked a ball and a stationary bike following Sunday night's game, for which he was fined $5,000; no word on how much or even if Mark Cuban got tagged for staring down and cursing up league commish David Stern, telling him, "Fuck you! Fuck you! Your league is rigged!" The Chicago Sun-Times is among many papers figuring it's but a matter of time before the league tags its favorite bellicose billionaire bad boy with another hefty fine to add to the $1.2 mil already withdrawn from the checking account. Needless to say, the reaction of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal is pretty commonplace this morning: The Mavs didn't look too classy or dignified after Game 5. Ya think?
No doubt you'll find somebody around town insisting it's all a conspiracy, that the last thing Stern wants to do is hand Cuban a trophy and has the refs calling a foul game to keep him from being crowned champ; like The Miami Herald says this morning:
"There could not be a more perfect locale than Dallas for these NBA Finals to resume tonight. Just a few miles from the basketball arena is the infamous grassy knoll, national Mecca of conspiracy theorists. We presume that when the Mavericks' owner, coach and players talk these days about looking at film, it might not be game film but rather Abraham Zapruder's grainy home movie.
The question now: Is commissioner David Stern acting alone in manipulating to steal Dallas' championship trophy and give it to the Miami Heat? If so, then what of the blurred, shadowy figures on the knoll who appear to be wearing vertically striped shirts?"
Of course, down in Miami they're just goofing, but Greg Cote's right to write that tonight presents itself as a "a delicious, volatile cauldron," which is what I am planning on having for dinner tonight, in fact. Speaking of Miami writers, I am getting kinda beaten down every morning having to read a Dan LeBatard column and then having to do anything involving breathing or thinking for the rest of the day; his tired shit really ought to come with a warning label (though I will say the picture of Dwayne Wade running with his column is pretty spectacular). Also, I am getting tired of stories about how Pat Riley really wants a title after his New York Knicks couldn't make it past the Houston Rockets in the 1994 Finals (suck it, New York Daily News), about how Shaq promised Miami a title when he moved to Florida (bite me, USA Today) and about how Dwyane Wade is the Second Coming of Air Jordan (actually David Aldridge in the Philadelphia Inquirer has a pretty level-headed piece explaining why that very thing is a little early and a lot unnecessary).
But ultimately there is a sole theme running through every single story written this morning about Game 6 and the Mavericks' attitude toward it: "controlled anger" and the need to play with it. It's a phrase mentioned in almost all the pieces I've sorted through, from The Boston Globe's preview to the Associated Press' game story to Art Garcia's piece in this morning's Fort Worth Star-Telegram (which, being that I'm a born-in-Dallas kinda guy, I consider an outta-town paper). It's something Jason Terry and Devin Harris keep talking about, as in:
"We've got to come out in Game 6 with a controlled anger. If you're feeling any other way, then you shouldn't be here. You shouldn't be in a Mavericks uniform."
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"'We're all angry,' Harris said. 'But you've got to be smart about it. Controlled anger is good. We just have to find something that works and run with it.'"
"'Uncontrolled [anger] is three seconds left in the San Antonio series, I lost control and, I don't know, kind of gave someone a love tap,' Terry explained. 'Controlled anger is going out there, playing aggressive, taking the ball to the basket strong, making strong moves, defensively holding your ground and not backing into anything and battling for every loose ball. Just scrapping out there.'"
Fine, play with anger. But the Mavs would be wise to remember what most anger management professionals say: While it may be a successful short-term motivator, "using anger to win points is a losing strategy in the long run." Of course, should the Mavs lose, I am sure people 'round here will be plenty unhappy, chief among them the guy stuck with a thousand giveaway Game 7 tickets no one will need. --Robert Wilonsky