Tuesday, January 13, 2009

From The Bucktails To The CO

Up until recently, whenever the question "Why isn't Gerald Green getting playing time?" came up, I'd look at the record and answer, "Because when he was getting playing time we weren't winning games. Next question."

As usual, Mike Fisher is forcing me to re-evaluate.

We had been winning ballgames with G-Money (that's the officially sanctioned locker room name, he nicked it from his little brother) vacuum-sealed. However, way back at the beginning of December I was noticing the trend of playing down to the wire in very winnable games. The encouraging trends -- JJ finally shutting up the doubters, roleplayers like Jimz showing they can step up when called upon to do so -- have been outweighed by the discouraging ones -- Josh Howard's inconsistency, the fact that Kidd cannot be counted on as a scoring threat, Dirk and Jet's shooting slumps, none of the potential 2-starters making a strong case for their candidacy.

What I think is happening, with G-Money's instance being a symptom of a general problem, is that Coach's constant rotation tinkering is starting to backfire. Green's defensive weaknesses and low basketball IQ are well-documented. However, his screw-ups aren't any more or less glaring than those of the other players not named Nowitzki, Terry, or Kidd. It's tempting to rely upon guys like Devean George because they're "defensive minded," because they can be relied upon to do their jobs without hot-dogging, heat checks, impromptu bullshit shot creation, because they're known factors that don't fuck with the master plan. Fine, I get it. With this team that is a recipe for disaster. The veteran roleplayers are simply not that mighty.

Which brings us back to our Mr. Green. To his credit, he's behaving like a professional, putting in the time, saying the right things. Unless he was benched for reasons the Organization hasn't disclosed to the public -- health reasons, he needs an attitude adjustment, he didn't refill the coffee pot, whatever -- it might be time to pull him out of the space bag, fluff him up, and throw him back on the couch.

And what if that really is the problem, Coach's rotation tinkering causing locker room unrest that's manifesting itself in games?

Ah, yes. Well.

(mumbles a quick prayer to God for forgiveness, amen)

That one is on Dirk.

Mike Fisher's metaphor for last season's ongoing meltdown was the movie, "The Caine Mutiny." I haven't seen the movie . . . but I've read the original novel. Here's a user review from Amazon.com:

"I recently read quite a few online reviews, and they reflect a much more contemporary viewpoint -- the original context of the novel is lost in time. One reviewer thought the mood and point of the book were 'Faschistic'; others concluded that the point was 'it's okay to buck the system.' I was reminded of a colleague on the faculty at West Point who was teaching a cadet elective in psychology of abnormal behavior who used a clip of Bogart's performance on the stand at the court-martial as an example of disordered paranoid ideation. Sometimes I wonder what book all these people read!

"This is a novel of war, seen through the eyes of a nonprofessional officer of incisive intelligence, one both inside and outside the Navy system and possessed of ability to look beyond the moment. Many readers (or movie fans) somehow completely miss the story's central issue and the critical turn of plot. Captain Queeg was not crazy; he was overwhelmed by the burdens of command, but would probably have muddled through if his officers had managed to put aside petulant resentment and work to compensate for the captain's flaws. Instead, they put a combat vessel out of action during a critical period in the Pacific campaign."
-Ltc Timothy R. O'Neill

If that is what happened -- if Avery Johnson's eventual crash and burn was because of Dirk's actions as team captain and platoon leader -- then that's a big black mark (yellow stain?) on Dirk. And if it's happening again -- Dirk undermining Coach Carlisle's authority, consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or inadvertently -- somebody please call Mr. Geschwinder and have him kick Dirk's ass.

However, I do not think that's what's happened then, and I don't think it's happening now. Avery Johnson shot himself in the nads just fine; he didn't need help aiming. For the nonce, the players have to trust that Coach knows what he's doing. You don't have to like your boss. To do your best work, you do have to trust and believe in them. Fostering that trust and belief is in the team leader's job description. It's in Dirk's job description.

There are two things I wish I knew for facts. One is the look on Dirk's face when he answered Sports Illustrated's question about whether or not any of the Mavs had bothered to learn German ("Nothing except geshunteit"). The other is who called the players-only practise the day after Game 4 last year . . . and who showed up for it.

For the record. This is the bullshitting of a fan who doesn't want to believe her team is getting legitimately outplayed. Take your grain of iodized salt and I'll see you at the AAC tomorrow. The Hornets are in town. I'll be waving the colors.

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