No Witzki

We head into 2007 knowing this much: Bobby Knight still doesn't have the record, SMU still doesn't have legitimacy, the Texas Rangers still don't have a free-agent star and, most inexplicably, the Mavericks still don't have respect. Even after last year's glorious run to an almost-championship. Even after last night's pulsating victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Despite their league-best 22-7 record, the Mavs at this point do not have -- according to fans -- any All-Stars. In the second installment of voting results released yesterday, Dirk Nowitzki is third and Josh Howard eighth among Western Conference forwards, Jason Terry is sixth among guards, and Erick Dampier is a distant third among centers. Of course, two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash is fourth among guards, so what do voters know?

This is actually good news for your Mavericks. Something to use as motivation, even a rallying cry, as they steam toward another appearance in the NBA Finals.

Like they did last night, Terry will keep scoring 35 points, Howard will keep making acrobatic layups, and Nowitzki will keep calmly sinking game-winning 20-foot jumpers with 1.3 seconds remaining. And when the Mavericks finally become champions, maybe then they'll also become popular. --Richie Whitt