Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Dallas Mavericks’ beards symbolize pluckiness
But the players need more than a grizzly chin to win.
DALLAS Just when things couldn’t look bleaker, just when a playoff spot seemed more like a pipe dream than a realistic team goal, there came … the Beard. No, not a trade for Houston’s Mr. T-esque James Harden or, yikes, Baron fear-the-beard Davis. Your own Dallas Mavericks have gone grizzly in the hopes of saving the season.
The news came out after last Wednesday’s game against Portland when Dirk Nowitzki was asked about his new, unshaven look. Turns out Nowitzki and several Mavs — Vince Carter, O.J. Mayo, Elton Brandon, Dahntay Jones, Chris Kaman, among others — made a pact to grow beards until getting back to .500, a place they haven’t been since mid-December.
Now don’t expect to see your Mavs looking like lumberjacks. To remain presentable and avoid feeling itchy, the guys agreed it’s OK to keep their newfound facial hair groomed, and they aren’t mandating beards for the whole team. (That’s good news for players like rookie Jae Crowder who, according to Carter, can only grow an “ant-mound thing” around his face — whatever that means.)
Despite head coach Rick Carlisle’s super serious demeanor, he likes the idea of the facial hair club. “I’m all for it,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “I’m in favor of anything that creates solidarity and focus on a certain mission.”
More than a ridiculous ploy like, say, the latest Chris “Birdman” Andersen tattoo, the Mavs’ pact to grow beards until the .500 mark epitomizes a recurring theme of this season: fight.
Say what you want about their success or lack thereof. Say what you will about owner Mark Cuban’s decision to blow things up after that oh-so-sweet championship two years back or Darren Williams denying an opportunity to come play in his hometown. The fact still remains that the 2012-2013 Mavs are a feisty bunch — committed to getting better, focused on making the playoffs.
This theme of fight can be seen in interviews with the players, particularly those involving Mayo and point guard Darren Collison. Both guys have vocalized their discontent, as well as Carlisle’s being particularly hard on them — something they both willingly welcome, given their hunger to win.
The theme can also be seen visibly on the court. Anyone who has legitimately followed the Mavs this season knows this team has gotten better. Collison is making fewer turnovers, Brand is finding his role, veterans Marion and Carter are getting back into a consistent rhythm, and Nowitzki is starting — key word “starting” — to settle in after returning from surgery in late-December.
The Beard is a symbol for what’s already at work this season. Let’s make this more about just facial hair.
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