Turning the Thing Around (again)

Two Friday nights ago, while scouring the internet for new and exciting content, I discovered that the Mavericks were playing the Lakers just four train stops from my mother’s house. I debated whether or not to go, but then figured it couldn’t hurt to at least see if I could get in the building for less than 30 bucks.

I was hoping to find a ticket for 20, but ran upon a deal I couldn’t pass on– an upper terrace seat (worth 70 dollars) for 30 dollars. Some scalpers were trying to get rid of $30.00 face value seats for up to 200 dollars. I just kept walking.

I hadn’t been to a Mavericks game since they’d played in the old Reunion Arena, back when Ross Perot Jr. owned the team (coincidentally, the first basketball game I ever attended was with my father was the 1984 playoff game against the Lakers–the only won they won that series).

By the time that Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks fifteen years ago, I was no longer living in Dallas. The Mavericks were a joke of a franchise, and the punchline of many jokes. Even people in Dallas took the time to ask the query, “Who’ll win more games this year, the Cowboys or the Mavs?”

Their ineptness led to my detachment (why in the hell would I invest my joy into a bad product?) and my detachment led me to watch other teams in the NBA, and not become a homer for any team (I think it worked out for the best).

Mark Cuban is not only one of the best owners in sports, he is also a glaring example of how one person can change the culture of a whole city. The city of Dallas doesn’t suck as much as it did when I was growing up there, and I’m sure Mark Cuban has at least a little bit to do with that.

Ever since Cuban bought the Mavericks, the city of Dallas has gotten a new basketball arena (they share the venue with the hockey team), a light rail that runs towards the outskirts of the city, and a massive growth of skyscrapers and condominiums downtown.

All that can’t be accredited to Cuban’s purchase of the Mavericks, but you also can’t tell me that the success of the franchise over the past 15 years has nothing to do with the city’s economic growth.

One of the things that makes Mark Cuban one of the best owners in sports, is that the man has attention for details. The American Airlines Center is one of the nicest venues you could ever attend an event.

It feels like a luxury hotel with a basketball court and stadium seating. Everything is immaculate, and state of the art. You will not find a single piece of trash lying on the ground, or in the arena.

The arena staff I encountered were all courteous and professional. I’ve even heard visiting players like Shaquille O’Neal say that the visiting locker room at the AAC is one of the most hospitable stops in the NBA–with a post game spread that resembles a luxury cruise buffet.

Pregame was pretty hype. The Mavs’ announcer worked hard to keep all the fans engaged. The Mavs were introduced to “Eminence Front” by the Who and fans got into that (I’m a little shocked that no rapper has ever sampled that intro and spit bars to it–I’m sure its a hard sample to clear). There were cool graphics up on the Jumbotron, and the two massive scoreboards.

The game didn’t live up to the hype though. It was the day after Christmas, and it seemed like everyone was hungover; including the fans who could barely muster any audible advantage for the home town Mavs.

Kobe sat on the bench wearing a really nice black suit (another reason why the 200 dollar asking price was laughable), and the flow of the game was really klunky. There were a lot of “Sportscenter” worthy moments, with lobs and deep 3 pointers, but the flow was just off. Both teams were in the 70’s at one point into the 4th quarter.

On balance it was still fun. Mark Cuban understands that NBA games are a product, and everything revolving around the team shapes the perception of the product. The Mavs’ drum line, the dancers, the DJ, the PA guy, and arena staff are as part of the product as the basketball team.

Mark Cuban’s comprehensive approach to handling the team (from hiring the right coach and general manager to the way he takes care of his players) is why he is one of the most innovative owners to ever buy a sports team.

Major League Baseball made a serious mistake by not selling Cuban one of their franchises. Cuban is one of the reasons why the NBA is such a progressive sport, especially compared to the NFL and MLB.

Even the most casual of fan can have a good time at an NBA game, and the reason is because the NBA is always looking forward, not in the past like baseball–a sport steeped in archaic rituals and traditions.

If you haven’t figured out what separates good franchises from bad ones, don’t focus solely on the players. Go directly to the ownership group, then look at who gets hired for drafting and personnel decisions, then watch their track records with head coaches.

In any successful organization, it all starts at the top. Being a great leader/supervisor/coach means having the confidence to hire smart people to work on your staff and allowing them to do their jobs. This is what separates the bad, mediocre, and good from the great.

Big shout out to Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks arena staff, and all those Mavs’ fans out there who stuck with the team even when they were the laughingstock of the league. The NBA is more fun to watch now that they are good again.

These games tho:

Monday

Wizards-Pelicans
Anthony Davis continues to have insane stat lines and the Wizards continue to have entertaining games against the West. I’ll check out this game until the Los Angeles “Cakeshow” rolls into Portland and the Thunder-Warriors Part Duex commence. I feel confident that this will be the Good Ass Game of the Week.

Tap that Vein Tuesday begins and ends with Cavs-Rockets. Tuesday would be a good night to rest up if you were recovering from a hernia surgery. As the cops used to say back in the day, “Move along now. Nothing to see here.”

Wednesday

The LOL Lakers versus the Clippers. It is always fun to watch the Lakers lose to their housemates.

Thursday
Miami vs. Portland You sure you’re recovered from that hernia surgery? “Tap that Vein Tuesday” has now become “Tap that Vein Thursday”

Friday

A slew of Good Ass Games. The Grizzlies beefy front line are going to put a hurting on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.

Bulls-Wizards give us a playoff preview of could only be a handful of possible interesting match ups in the East. I’ll tune in until the Phoenix-San Antonio and Cleveland-Golden State games begin.

“Psssst. Take you out on Friday? Nah baby, I need to be in bed recovering from hernia surgery (wink.wink.) The doc says I should do nothing that doesn’t involve lying in bed and watching hoops.

Saturday

Dallas vs. Los Angeles Clippers Battle of two of the best point guards in the West. Can’t wait!

Sunday
Grizzlies-Suns
Cleveland-Sacramento
Portland-LOL Lakers

“Oh baby. You’ll never believe this. Doctor says I can do non-basketball related things again. It’s a Festivus Miracle! We should go out and celebrate. You should grab your wallet in case I somehow lose mine. Grab your keys too, doctor says I can’t drive.”

Buster(s) of the Week award goes to:

The New York Police Department for showing mad disrespect to the city’s mayor, police commissioner, and the families of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, by turning their back on the mayor during his eulogy for both slain officers. #Maddisrespectful.

These men have to understand that they are supposed to be the pillars of our society. It doesn’t make poor or citizens of color feel any less distrust towards the police. I don’t see any good coming out of this situation and their behavior. It just isn’t right.

Enjoy the games and don’t be foolish with ya money!!!

Peace.

BM

@clickpicka79
bobbymickey@gmail.com

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A Week of Good Ass Games

The more hoop I watch, the clearer it becomes to me how wack the other major sports are. This week really drove that point home. The National Football League’s on the field product is too goddamned boring to justify all the off-the-field bullshit that is going on. It’s like W-W-fucking E with all the drama outside of the white lines. It has gotten so bad that corny ass sports columnists have become major football stories.

Now with the new rules, they may as well put skirts on the quarterbacks and call it powder puff football. Look at this. This is now an illegal hit. I have no interest at all in watching flag football when I could be playing it. No thank you. “You can keep that. Don’t holla at me no more I’ll holla at you.” I liked it better when the NFL didn’t pretend it wasn’t a gladiator sport.

I love playing and coaching baseball, but let’s face it, that shit can be so boring to watch. Baseball is wack for the fact that in the American League a dude can rake in millions of dollars just to bat four times, not play the field, and sit in the dugout and spit sunflower seeds on the ground.

I know that in the NBA the Eastern Conference is the JV to the Western Conference varsity games, but that just means I can direct my focus on only 8 or 9 or 10 teams (and sometimes Chicago). This has been a week of good ass games, starting with
the Milwaukee-Phoenix nail biter, and ending with the Spurs-Mavs.
Tonight’s San Antonio-Dallas game was worth watching even without the Spurs’ top four players playing. I got to finally get a good look at Kyle Anderson, the Spurs first round draft pick (he looked good at times, made some rookie mistakes but I like that he is getting some minutes this early into the season). I also got to watch the Mavericks usher in the Rajon Rondo earlier.

I’m happy for Rondo for a couple of reasons: #1. He is out of the dreaded Eastern Conference. #2. He is finally free of the negativity that is associated with Boston sports. it is no picnic for anyone who plays there, but black athletes dating back to Bill Russell can attest to the difficulties of playing in the city of Boston. Texas is a warmer state (socially and climatically) with lower taxes and he’ll be appreciated in Dallas–playing for one of the best owners in sports.

Rondo is like one of your friends who has been seeing someone that everyone knew was getting a little “strange” on the side. The Celtics have been sneaking around behind Rondo’s back, calling other folks on the phone, sending secret texts and denying that they were looking around for something better.

How is a dude suppose to relax with all that going on? People have been saying for years that Rondo is an island, but maybe he was put on an island by the Celtics a long time ago. Ever since they traded Perkins to the Celtics, there has been an obvious disconnect between the words of Celtics’ front office and their action.

I’m happy for Rondo. He has a talented core of guys to run with, and a genius head coach to put him in a position to succeed. Fuck Boston.

Rondo looked a little in shock but still played well enough to help the Mavs win. He had a couple of nice dimes and a decent game overall with 6 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds (6 of them in the first half). Monta Ellis went full throttle during the end game of the 4th quarter and got 38 points. Even without Duncan, Ginoboli, Parker, and Kawhi Leonard, it managed still a “Good Ass Game.”

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Bobby Mickey, does this mean you’re a Mavericks fan now?” Hell no. But it doesn’t mean I can’t dig watching them. Rondo has always been in my opinion underrated, and I think he will finally be in an environment where he can thrive. Anywhere there is a pass first point guard who can rebound and play defense like Rondo, you best believe I’ll be tuning in.

For the rest of their season they have become the “Must Watch Mavs.” If they can fortify their subs on the front line, they will be as good as any of the other top flight teams in that conference (you could talk me into Memphis, San Antonio, Golden State, Clippers, or OKC depending on what day it is).

Good Ass Games of the Week

Sunday

Somehow I missed that the Grizzlies were playing in Cleveland tomorrow. Well if you are reading this right now while your date is passed out, or in the bathroom taking off their makeup, then don’t let brunch last TOO long. Drop them off in time to at least watch the second half of the game.I’m sure it’ll be worth it. The GrizzleBees should mangle them.

Monday

Portland-Houston In all the Rondo to Dallas excitement, people have slept on Houston’s trade for Corey Brewer. Brewer can defend the perimeter, and is a very good role player who has 3 NCAA rings and an NBA title. Say what you will about Houston, but you can’t call them busters this year. Portland is rolling right now, with everyone playing really well together. “Dark Nowitzki” (big ups Sam) and “Late Game Dame” willed the Blazers to a big win Friday night against the undermanned Spurs (a combined 75 points out of the 129 they scored that night). They are ready to go deep in the playoffs. They remind me of the 2011 OKC squad that made it to the Western Conference for their first time as a franchise. They have that look about them.

Speaking of the undermanned Spurs, they are pretty banged up right now. This could be a very short playoff run for them without Kawhi Leonard. He is the difference between getting to the Finals and getting knocked out in a fiercely contested first round. They have played and lost 3 “Good Ass Games” (2 of them unbelievably good triple overtime affairs) this week.

It doesn’t get any easier for them against the Clippers on Monday, who are looking scary good. J.J. Redick has finally figured out what will keep him in the league and he is doing that well. I knew that he wouldn’t be able to tear up the NBA like he did the ACC, but its good to see he has found himself a good situation. That pick n roll with Chris Paul is so much nastier with guys who can spot up, and they make defenses pay for over committing to the rolling big men.

“Tap the vein” Monday continues with Golden State-Sacramento. The first half of the Golden State-OKC game was the best half of basketball I’d seen all season–up until KD hurt his ankle (Durant had scored 30 points in 18 minutes, missing only 2 shots). The second half atmosphere was deflated a little when it became clear that Durant wouldn’t be back out, but by the fourth quarter it had already wrapped up “Good Ass Game of the Week.” Danny Green hit some big shots this week to make it a little closer than it should have been. I could watch and re-watch the first half of that game over and over again. MMMPPPHH!

Tuesday

Portland vs. OKC
Dallas vs. Phoenix
Golden State vs. Los Angeles Lakers

And they do run run run, they do run run. Look out! The Thunder have played themselves back int the playoff hunt and its no longer a matter if, but of where they will be seeded. Sacramento’s season is over. Unless Phoenix (who have been losing too many close games–you gotta beat those Eastern Conference teams–those are gimmes) and New Orleans make trades, they can call it a wrap. It will probably be the same playoff teams as last year as one super famous former Michigan alum correctly predicted.

Wednesday
Christmas Eve. Get ya money!

Thursday

Spurs-Thunder
Clippers-Warriors

This two games are the only Christmas presents I need. The only thing that would make these match ups better would a healthy Andrew Bogut for the evening showcase–my pick to click for “Good ass Game of the Week”

Friday

Houston-Memphis
There may be some pushing and shoving in what will no doubt be a physical game. Besides that, Friday may be a good time to capitalize on that holiday cheer and see who came into town for the holidays. Regardless whether you are giving, or receiving, make sure you wrap up any gifts that may come down the pipeline that weekend.

Saturday
Trust me. Tonight is the night to get out and do something. You don’t want to be home watching the Pelicans-Bulls on a Saturday night do you? If you must watch it, at least go out to a bar, have a few drinks and talk to to people.

Sunday
Houston-San Antonio
Oklahoma City-Dallas
Phoenix vs. the LOL Lakers

I can’t think of a better way to begin the week can you? Happy holidays and winter solstice. We are only a couple of weeks away from 2015. It’s time to chill, reflect, and project for the next year. As crazy as the world is, there is a lot to look forward to. If we have our health and our family,our hoops and our friends, then we have a lot. Everything else is gravy.

Peace,

BM
#Thisagoodassgame
@Clickpicka79