Firstly, it is with great sadness that we honor the late Don Carter, founder of the Dallas Mavericks, who passed away this past week. He will be missed.
The NBA has reached its turning point in the regular season, and with that came the All Star Weekend. While in the past Mavs fans are used to getting their rightful representation with Dirk being an ASG regular, recently it’s been a toss up for fans if they’ll see any Dallas rep during these events. However, with this season brought the team electrifying rookie Dennis Smith Jr, who’s given a spark to the bleak immediate future Mavs Nation saw imminent. Smith represented in the Rising Stars Challenge, as well as the Slam Dunk Contest, where he put on a show with the dunks he got out, including an impressive between the legs, switching hands 360 dunk (wow, just describing it is unbelievable) that many considered the most difficult made dunk of the night, but was unable to make the final round and ultimately win the competition. Fans across the web and social media however made a case saying Smith was “snubbed” for a shot at the dunk crown. While he may not have come out on top, he definitely gained some good publicity and an increased following from his time in the spotlight.
After an eventful All Star weekend that got the franchise some much-needed attention thanks to DSJ, the Mavericks’ nation would be satisfied with that amount of press in a season like this. However, what followed immediately after the festivities ended and the serious part of the season began, was the shedding of light on a very dark truth and web of misconduct performed behind closed doors and under owner Mark Cuban’s nose.
In a new Sports Illustrated exposé, the Dallas Mavericks’ front office was revealed to have had a history of alleged sexual misconduct by now former Mavs president and CEO, Terdema Ussery, over the course of the past 18 years he’s been with the team. The report cited targeting of women in the workplace, and that the female workers in the front office even felt more comfortable in the locker room with that staff and the players (who have no ties to the allegations or report as a whole). The news swept a whirlwind of chaos across sports media, with many questioning Cuban’s responsibility as of late and even throughout his tenure as the Mavericks’ owner. The businessman and Shark Tank star is used to being on the giving end of questioning, but finds the tables turned in this obvious degree of mismanagement within his club. The Mavericks’ front office is currently undergoing an investigation within their ranks to find out everything that has transpired, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver overseeing an exterior investigation and sending a memo across the league regarding finding similar cases with other franchises.
In the wake of all the recent outings of sexual harassment allegations in other mediums, it seems the sports world could take the next big hit with this new initiative set in motion. If an outspoken owner and self-proclaimed league innovator like Mark Cuban, who has outwardly taken pride in his ability to oversee his entire franchise, was able to knowingly sweep something like this under the rug for so long, who knows what could be found going on behind the closed doors of other organizations moving forward.
Back to basketball, the team returned to its regular season following the All Star break by visiting the Lakers at Staples Center. In Lonzo Ball’s first game back from injury since January 13, the Lakers managed to re-insert him into their scheme just fine as their offense flourished in the 124-102 romp. The Mavericks had 7 players in double figures points-wise, but it all came untimely as the Mavericks’ first half was chock-full of offensive woes that they couldn’t recover from, including a first quarter in which they were outscored 32-17. Defensively, their struggles from throughout the season have persisted, as it’s increasingly more apparent that as long as the team rides this train of it’s longtime veterans, the defensive energy they need from a youth-filled squad will be forever lost. Los Angeles was led by Julius Randle’s triple double of 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, and Isaiah Thomas bounced back from a few struggle-filled performances by racking up 17 points of his own. Lonzo Ball finished his night back with the team with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in his limited playing time.
On Saturday night the Mavericks visited the Utah Jazz, where their offensive inconsistency followed them into the building as Dallas once again had no scorers above 20 points in the 97-90 loss. As long as there isn’t some sort of definitive force the rest of the cast can latch onto both offensively and defensively, the Mavericks will continue to see losses like this and the many similar before. J.J. Barea led the Mavs with his 17 point, 12 assist double-double. Rookie Donovan Mitchell, who bested DSJ on his way to winning the slam dunk contest, once again outperformed Smith’s measly 7 points and 7 rebounds with his great performance. He notched 25 points along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists as he continues to make his case for Rookie of the Year contention.
The Dallas Mavericks now sit at 18-42 on the regular season, sitting pretty with the second-to-last rank in the Western conference standings, where the lower spectrum squads are now hoping to have a shot at a good NBA Draft Lottery pick. With some clear candidates coming forward as the college basketball season continues to unfold, Mavs Nation will need to keep its eyes open hoping to have a shot at nabbing another piece that will be key in bringing the franchise back to glory, and a step towards the franchise keeping a positive light there despite all of the recent turmoil.
Mon. 2/26 vs Pacers
Wed. 2/28 vs Thunder
Fri. 3/2 @ Bulls
Sun. 3/4 vs Pelicans