“Then do what you must… as will I.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds
As Bryan Gutierrez mentioned in his weekly rundown, Dirk Nowitzki and several other Mavs are growing .500 beards—meaning that they will not shave until the Mavs are back to .500 again. O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter came up with the idea. At the earliest, if they win seven games in a row, they could shave on March 1st. At the latest, if they never get back to an even win-loss ratio, they could shave in late October when the new season starts and the season record is back to 0-0. But I assume they won’t wait that long.
I fully support growing a beard as an act of solidarity in the face of adversity. I’m also participating in the .500 beard. Basically, I’m taking my current beard and re-naming it a .500 beard. Simple enough. And leave it to the Mavs marketing team to completely jump on board with a fan contest, a motivational YouTube video, and the Twitter hash tag #mavsnoshavepledge.
If nothing else, this should be interesting.
Of course, most fans would love to see the Mavericks make a decent push at the 8th playoff spot. They’d enjoy a crazy scramble for that final piece of playoff real estate—like survivors lost at sea, all grasping for a single life preserver. The sadist in me wants to see it happen. But I also want to see the Mavs become the most beard-ful team since the House of David barnstorming team who played during the first half of the 20th century.
What does the beard actually accomplish? Charles Darwin suggested that the beard might have served an evolutionary role in attracting suitable mates, as an indicator of virile masculinity. In many religions, the beard symbolizes an act of holy submission. From the Bible, Leviticus 21:5 states that “They shall not make any baldness on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts in their flesh.” Throughout history, the beard has come to represent crazy, dedicated people who were too busy to shave. (Abraham Lincoln was the first bearded president.) In modern times, beards can symbolize that you are quirky and hip, or that you’re homeless.
For the Mavs, is this beard a daring statement of manliness over their emasculated foes? Is it an act of contrition before the basketball gods? Is it a statement that there’s work to be done? Does it just look cool? Or is it based on the idea that if the Mavs keep playing poorly they may be kicked to the curb?
In the end, anyone who loves sports, be it fan or athlete, is prone to a little superstition. They understand the fickle nature of a ball dancing along the rim with seconds remaining. They have felt the injustice of a call that could’ve gone either way. They have seen their best player on the ground, suffering from a torn ligament that would’ve been fine had he not landed just so. Beards, rally caps, lucky socks… if it works, it’s not weird.
In related news, Golden State lost four games in a row, and now they’re considering… sleeves. Good luck with that.
Note: As I mentioned last week, I’m working on a lengthy basketball-related cover feature for the Dallas Observer. It’s due next week. As a result, my weekly columns will be a little shorter than usual. Fear not, I promise to be back to 100% by the end of February. Until then, we have other talented contributors. You don’t need me.
David Hopkins is a freelance writer – a regular contributor to D Magazine and Smart Pop Books. Follow David on Twitter at @davidhopkins.