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A year ago today we were still basking in the glow of the Mavericks’ first NBA championship. The Rangers were on their way to a second straight World Series. The Cowboys were 2-2 in their Bye week. The Dallas Stars were, um, playing hockey.
Then, just like that, sports took our lifted hearts and crushed them into so miniscule granules of BC Powder. Last week might have been the worst week for Metroplex fans.
Started a week ago Sunday (Sept. 30) with those of us who love golf suffering through an epic collapse by the U.S. in the Ryder Cup. On Monday Tony Romo threw 5 interceptions and the Cowboys were dismantled by the Chicago Bears in Arlington. Couple hours later the Rangers lost in Oakland to further narrow their shrinking lead in the division. On Tuesday Texas lost again, forcing an AL West Championship Game. In that tilt on Wednesday, the Rangers blew a 5-1 lead when Josh Hamilton non-chalanted a lazy fly ball into a 2-run error en route to a 12-5 loss. And that begat, of course, a lifeless loss in Friday’s AL Wild Card Game to the Orioles. If you love local and/or regional college football TCU and Texas capped the colossal crap by losing home games on Saturday.
Thank God for Thursday?
11 months ago the Metroplex was within one strike – twice! – of boasting defending champions in the NBA and MLB.
Today we woke up today with this sports reality: The Rangers still haven’t won a title and the most disappointing season in franchise history – along with the Josh Hamilton era – is over. The mediocre Cowboys – with 1 playoff win since the ’95 season – have one of the NFL’s worst offenses and are staring at 4 road games the next 5 weeks. The Stars and the NHL are locked out.
Which brings us to the Mavericks.
Swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder last spring in the 1st Round of the NBA Playoffs, the only glimmer of hope was landing free-agent, All-Star point guard Deron Williams. He was one of the main reasons – remember? – that owner Mark Cuban decided not to keep the ’11 team together for another potential championship run. Keep our powder dry. The big fish. Any of this ring a bell?
Of course, because it’s why we were able to stomach last season’s disappointment. We were sold the “1 step back to take 2 steps forward” theorem of tweaking a title team.
Truth is, the Mavs missed out on signing Williams because, get this, Cuban wasn’t on hand to personally close the deal. Cuban stars in a reality show called Shark Tank, in which entrepreneurs attempt to sell their ideas and close deals with mega-millionaire company owners and business moguls. When the Mavs made their visit to New York to convince Williams to sign with Dallas (his home, by the way) they sent general manager Donnie Nelson, head coach Rick Carlisle and former player/ambassador Michael Finley. Cuban was in L.A., filming an episode of Shark Tank. He was not, in other words, closing the deal.
Asked Monday by New York media if Cuban’s absence affected his decision to spurn the Mavs and instead sign with the Brooklyn Nets, Williams said flatly, “Of course.”
“A lot of the questions that me and my agent had for them really didn’t get answered that day – you know, pertaining to the future. And I think if he was there, he would have been able to answer those questions a little bit better. Maybe would have helped me.”
Williams said he was told by Nelson and Carlisle to simply “trust our track record.”
“I can honor that, because they do have a good track record,” Williams said. “But it’s not enough for me to switch organizations, especially when (Nets’ GM) Billy (King) was updating me daily.”
How damning was Cuban’s absence? Williams compared the situation to when he was a high school star from The Colony, being recruited by Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Maryland. When he learned that Maryland Coach Gary Williams would not meet with him, he canceled his visit.
“So that was the end of that,” he said. “Similar.”
So Williams signed with the Nets and I emailed Cuban on July 10 for some clarity:
Just back from vacation and I hear you’re getting a lot of heat for not physically being on Deron’s doorstep for the last-minute sales pitch. I could speculate with the rest of the media, or I can ask you to explain it for us.
Were you filming Shark Tank in L.A., and what was your reasoning for not being in NY trying to persuade Deron to Dallas?
Cuban’s immediate response:
more fun to listen to you guys talk trash
On 105.3 The Fan we interviewed an audibly depressed Nelson, who said “sometimes you lose in this game called free agency” and admitted the Mavs would “have to move on to Plan B.”
That, of course, contradicts the spin Cuban is now spitting: That the Mavs are somehow better off without Williams.
It’s disingenuous. It’s insulting. It’s, obviously, a lie.
The Mavs’ consolation prize is a roster of underachieving re-treads named Darren Collison, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman. A playoff squad? Sure. Not horrible, but in no way will the Mavs be able to compete for a championship this season. They’re not as good as the Thunder. Not as good as the Lakers. And worst of all, missing on Williams means they will also likely never get a chance at Dwight Howard.
The only way to acquire 3 superstars in the NBA is to first have 2. The Mavs have 1 in Dirk Nowitzki.
Mike Modano and the Stars’ glory is long gone.
Hamilton will never again wear a Rangers’ uniform.
The Cowboys are staring again at 8-8.
And your Mavericks are 33-1 longshots to win the 2013 title. Tuesday they lost a pre-season game to FC Barcelona in Spain.
Suddenly, sports sucks.