The endurance to follow a single team through an entire season of basketball, and if you're lucky enough, at least four games on top of that, takes a special kind of fan. Over the years, mediums like blogs and Twitter fostered this kind of fandom. Information is always available for us, as well as an audience to entertain our opinions. Because of that it's becoming increasingly easy to overstate both the struggle and success of teams. When your favorite one wins eight of ten in January, you can't help but fantasize about the kind of run it can make May. Or worse, when it loses those eight and your threshold for failure breaks, you talk yourself into wanting unobtainable players from other teams. It's not just us. Players lose perspective as they go through these waves, too.
If you've followed Rob Mahoney's rise as one of basketball's indispensable scribes, you've been treated to writing that doesn't lose perspective. He's blessed in that he's followed a team that's won 50 games a season for over a decade. He's seen the evolution that that requires. He knows what kind of team can play in June, but he's also seen it exit painfully early. He knows how fragile all of these things really are.
All of that understanding is present in Mahoney's first published book Mavericks Stampede. In it, he recaps each quirk that made the Dallas Mavericks' first championship possible. From standard preseason fodder like "The goal is a championship" to injury fueled setbacks to deconstructing expectations set by others, you come away knowing the Mavs just as well as your favorite team.
It's difficult enough to capture the nuances of an entire season but Mahoney manages to do it for each game of the playoffs. He reminds you with each recap of how a single lineup adjustment, how a player's seven points, or another player's six rebounds fills in the gap between the all-world performances of Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. Those seven points and six boards - season averages that we tend to laugh at after a player's career - help compensate for the loss of a starting shooting guard or a hotshot sophomore rehabbing an injury. You remember with each chapter that the sum of all these contributions working fluidly is what puts a team over the top.
But what drives you through these recaps is the retelling of Dirk's unrelenting, irrefutable dominance. And deservingly so. It's one thing to witness it over the course of two and a half months but it's another to absorb the improbability of following a 40 point, 18 shot game with a 40 point, 20 shot game two pages later. How do you digest that? You can't. You just remember Dirk slackjawing the NBA, or as Mahoney put it, "routinely accomplishing the impossible."
Aside from that joy, you truly start believing in basketball gods, "their time", and "everything falling into place" for these 2011 Mavericks. So, I leave you with this and implore you to relive it with Rob.
Basketball is often said to be a game of runs, but the 2011 Mavericks played with an almost serene consistency; little could knock them off of their path, and though opponents throughout their playoff run would try a wide variety of defensive strategies, nothing seemed to derail the headstrong commitment to moving the ball and executing their sets.