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Motivating Your Mavs

Avery Johnson just got a nice contract extension. If only the Mavs can extend their season again. If only the refs call it right this time, eh, Mark?
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I know, there's lingering pain and raw emotions and, gawdalmighty, you're just not ready for basketball yet 'cuz the hurt of the Mavs' loss in the Finals is, well, it's just...

Sorry, the sympathy shot-clock just expired. Get over it. And get on with it. That's what the Mavs will do tonight when they suit up in the American Airlines Center for the first time since losing Game 6 to the Miami Heat on June 20. It's only an exhibition game against the Sacramento Kings, but it's a sign the healing process has begun. T.O. has $25 million reasons to be alive; the Mavs need only one reason to be motivated.

"Last year ended with a sad feeling," says coach Avery Johnson, who got a five-year, $20-million contract facelift today to help his heartache. "This year we're going from almost to all."

In my column in this week's paper version of Unfair Park, I write of the trouble Mavs fans and players are having putting the disappointment to bed. But it's nothing compared to the owner. So, Mark Cuban, surely you and your team at least gained valuable experience from The Finals, right?

"Nope," Cuban snaps. "We didn't learn anything. I mean, it might be motivational, but as far as learning something, no way. We all know what happened. Something was taken from us for reasons we can't control, and it's just best to move on and hope the calls go our way next time."

Translation: Effing refs!

If that doesn't re-boot your depression, how about this: This year's Mavs budget allocates "dead money" to former players such as Michael Finley ($17 million), Shawn Bradley ($4.8 million), Pavel Podkolzin ($1.2 million) and even Evan Eschmeyer ($3.7 million). For a full list of guys who play games and make waaaay more than me and you and Wilonsky combined, click here.

And for one final downer, this is a must-read on the tragic death of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle. Of all the questions about the accident, the one that sticks out with me is, "Shouldn't we 'organize' our F-16s instead of 'scramble' them?" Just sayin'. --Richie Whitt

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