David Hopkins is a freelance writer — a regular contributor to D Magazine and Smart Pop Books. Follow David on Twitter at @davidhopkins.
“Are you sure it’s okay for me to wear Jason Kidd’s jersey?”
My wife April has asked me this question about three times now. She loves basketball. She knows the game. But April is still leery about jersey etiquette. I reassured her that people still love Kidd, and it’s very respectable to wear the jersey of a former player… as long as it’s not Bruno Sundov. That’s just weird.
I bought the Kidd jersey for $8 as the pro shop purged their warehouse, before shipping the lonely remnants to Central America.
Thus, the benefits of Jason Kidd leaving:
- Cheap jerseys
- The Mavs’ fast break will no longer look like when the P.E. coach tells the stoner kids to hustle.
- I don’t have to give a damn about his DWI.
April wanted a Kidd jersey ever since our first game together, when she pointed from our upper-deck seats down to the old man with the ball. “I like him. He’s all business.”
April has good instincts. She foresaw the greatness of Tyson Chandler in 2010 while I was still weighing the benefits of Brendan Haywood. And she gave up on Lamar Odom months before I did.
We were going to the Mavstoberfest event to see the Blue vs. White scrimmage. She wanted to wear her new jersey, and I saw no crime in it.
I like these team scrimmages, because it’s the closest I will probably get to courtside. And I’m the target audience. As someone who watched every single tedious summer league game on NBA.com, of course I would attend a 12-minute scrimmage.
When we got to our seats, all the usual sideshow entertainment was going on — a polka band, goofy dancing kids for the jumbotron, the Mavs ManiAACs (April: “You should try out for them.”), the Dallas Mavericks Dancers, and the demon-spawned from hell, Mavs Man. As if the mascot could sense our fears, he climbed into the stands.
“Don’t look at him,” April cautioned. “I don’t want him coming over here.”
The team finally entered the court. Rick Carlisle introduced everyone by name and college. He made a point of emphasizing that Shawn Marion was the most underrated player in the NBA. Eventually, Marion must get tired of the label. It’s like your dad bragging about how you almost made the team. “Underrated” always feels like a back-handed compliment, acknowledging both your support and my inability to get acknowledged.
A group of teenage girls behind us shouted: “We love you, Rick!” Really? The coach?
A few scrimmage observations:
- The game was sloppy, just like you would expect from a pre-season game filled with new players who were jet-lagged from a trip to Europe and playing at half-speed for a few thousand fans. If there is a spiritual cosmic opposite to a playoff game, it’s this.
- Dominique Jones to Brandan Wright was a lethal combo. Actually, anyone passing to Wright when he’s a few feet from the basket is going to be lethal.
- Jae Crowder is ruining it for the other rookies (and Dominique Jones who still feels like a rookie). Don’t be surprised if one of them pulls him aside and begs, “Can’t you stop… trying so hard? You were selected 34th overall. You’re making us look bad.” Crowder plays like no one told him he was supposed to have a difficult transition into the NBA.
- Darren Collison is freakin’ fast. I read the same scouting report you did, but it’s different when you are just a few feet from the court and watching it happen. It will be hard for him to pass to anyone if his teammates can’t keep up.
- If Josh Akognon stays with the team past preseason, it will be as a three-point specialist. He has a beautiful shot.
- Nowitzki passed on several makeable shots (makeable by Dirk-standards, anyway) to find Kaman in the paint. Was it because of his right knee and he’s playing it safe? Or does he want to get Kaman into a scoring rhythm? Either way, I always get a little nervous when the best player decides to be overly charitable. Dirk, I trust your shot from 18 feet more than I trust Kaman from 12.
The game ended. Blue won. Hooray for blue. And we went home.
Later that night, I overheard April talking to her friend on the phone. “The game was all right. They only played for 12 minutes, so you didn’t get to see much.”
Another valid point. Preseason is a time for us to make wild assessments based on limited information, a time to worry about the jerseys of misplaced Mavs, to mock the mascot (a nice man who probably fears losing his job), and for giggling teenage girls to express their love for Rick Carlisle.