Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and these indomitable, inevitable Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and these indomitable, inevitable Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and these indomitable, inevitable Dallas Mavericks

When I was 19 years old, I was hanging out in the dorms at college with some friends when a woman I’d never met before walked into the common area. We were introduced and within a few hours, I knew I wanted to marry her. I knew we would get married. I knew. Against all logic or rationality, it was something spiritual, a sense of inevitability. After more than 20 years together, it’s safe to say that initial feeling was right.

During my time watching sports, inevitability is a feeling that I’ve usually experienced from the losing side of things. As a Kansas City Chiefs fan in the 90’s and 2000’s it was John Elway or Jim Kelly, then Peyton Manning. As a Dallas Mavericks fan in the 2000’s it was Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan. Dirk Nowitzki in 2011 and the brilliant run to the NBA Championship gave me that first taste of what it’s like when you’re rooting for the unstoppable force. Patrick Mahomes has been that for me as a Chiefs fan in the years since.

And now there’s Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and this Dallas Mavericks team. They feel special. I know they’re special.

I am not a positive, glowing sports fan. It grates people, particularly since I help run a Dallas Mavericks fan-centric site. Despite the Mavericks drafting Luka Doncic, I’ve approached being a fan of this team often with pragmatism rather than joy, with an eye on the future of the team, concerned about things I can’t help shape. But when the team traded for PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford things changed and if you were paying attention they changed quickly. The new Mavericks destroyed the Oklahoma City Thunder right out of the gate in their first game together, 146-111. All of a sudden, the Dallas Mavericks became vertical, explosive, and shockingly fun.

As a long-time Mavericks fan, I’ve seen many iterations of this team. The early 2000’s Nelly-era teams were formative for my love of basketball. The grinding Avery Johnson teams taught me much about what basketball is in the trenches. The various iterations of the Carlisle-era squads informed my understanding of versatility, creativity, and finding ways to win. But there has never in my Mavericks fandom life been a team that is this overwhelmingly athletic and physical, and that doesn’t mention the backcourt helmed by Superman and Batman. They can play fast or slow, above the rim or beyond the arc, halfcourt or fast break. They can win through defense or offense. They’re frightening, fun, and shockingly dominant. Head coach Jason Kidd has quickly fused a team that’s remarkable in a way I struggle to properly contextualize to those who’ve not been paying attention.

“The Mavericks are going to win the whole thing.” That seemingly intrusive thought crept into my brain when Dallas went to Los Angeles and pummeled the Clippers in the fifth game of that first round series when Luka shook off his injuries to score 35 points, grab seven rebounds, and dish 10 assists. Dallas went on to win the series 4-2. Game five also proved to be a statement win against the Thunder, with Luka Doncic limiting his frustrations to play joyful basketball to the tune of 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. When the Mavericks pulled back to single digits against the Thunder in Game 6, I knew they were going to win.

Kyrie Irving shot just 4 of 20 from the floor in a span covering the second half of Game 1 and the first three quarters of Game 2 against the Minnesota Timberwolves. And yet, with Dallas down by seven and a chance to take a commanding series lead, I knew he’d do something to bring Dallas back into the game to give them a chance to win. He responded with four made threes, including one which put Dallas down two with 1:05 to go. When Luka Doncic caught the inbounds pass with 12 seconds left and isolated Rudy Gobert, I knew in my gut he was going to sink the step-back three and win the Mavericks the game.

This Mavericks team has brought me past the point of belief. They’ve brought me to feeling that the Dallas Mavericks are inevitable. Of course, they’re only up 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals, with two more wins needed to advance and face an old friend on either team. But I can’t shake the feeling and what’s more, I don’t want to. These Dallas Mavericks are incredible. They’re going to win the Western Conference Finals. They’re going to win the NBA Championship. I just know it.

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