Coach's Corner

It's Valentine's Day, and Mavericks fans are in love with Dennis Rodman. But it'll pass.

The Dark Years span an unbroken stretch of time running from roughly 1983 until 1997, the outset of the so-called Time of Enlightenment. Like the Lost Age of ancient Greece, the Dark Years were a time characterized by hard-earned knowledge being lost and a general regression to a more primitive state. Unlike the ancient Greeks, who were wise enough to destroy written works of their time of troubles, the Dark Years, for good or ill, have been well-chronicled. This was my story.

It was a time of sleeping with dogs (canine) and being happy about it. Hours of angst-filled personal and group therapy. Gallons of bourbon were consumed. The odd pill (the even one too) was popped. Besotted nights at the Continental Club were my idea of weekend fun, as I hoped my overwhelming lone-wolf-cool demeanor would entice a female human to take me home. In keeping with the tragicomic spirit of those times, this was not a fruitful quest. On the rare occasion when fruit did fall from the proverbial tree, it rotted quickly.

Of all the individual days of this period, Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day -- was the most dreaded. The hearts, the flowers, the fat, flying idiot, and the commercials with the beaming couples made me want to puke. In an odd but typical irony, my few actual female relationships (defined as lasting one complete menstrual cycle) of those times never once intersected this day of love.

My one female friend, Kristie, whose histories in these matters were exactly as dismal as mine, sent me a valentine each year. Her dog Beau sent one to my boxer Roxy. That night we'd get snockered at her house. This is how single people keep from committing suicide on V-day, cruelly timed to strike just when the un-coupled are starting to recover from Christmas and the debacle of New Year's Eve.

So it is that I possess little practical experience concerning behavior on Valentine's Day. Now that I've been married a year (the Time of Enlightenment), another kind of dread sets in: gift anxiety. A vague memory of a nice electric frying pan midway through marriage No.1 comes to mind. Well-intentioned though it indeed was, the pan went over poorly.

Valentine's Day seems to be a ticking female time bomb just waiting to off in the male face. The kaboom of the frying pan still rings. So much potential for disaster, what with attractive actors in television commercials buying large multi-carat diamonds or vacations to Jamaica for their adoring love object. Four hours till midnight. I think I'll go watch TV, see some more commercials. I'm sure it will work out.

Which is a comfortable segue to the loving Valentine's Day reception accorded Dennis Rodman by the insane citizens of Dallas ... but what can be expected from a city of Cowboys fans? New owner Mark Cuban, brandishing a big cigar and grinning in a vaguely ominous way (he's a dead ringer for Al Pacino's coke-crazed Tony Montana in Scarface), is off to either an ironically humorous start with basketball's worst franchise, or a disastrous one, depending upon your point of view.

Humorous, if you consider the irony of the young owner trying to out-Jerry Mr. Jones, and butting vigorously into the nuts and bolts of a business he knows nothing about -- courting, romancing, and finally bedding a troublesome player no other team in the league wants anything to do with. The culmination of the romance came when Cuban invited the wild and wacky Dennis to spend a week with him at his sprawling estate doing ... stuff ... I guess. There's that Tony Montana image again. The new owner's first decision is exactly the sort of embarrassing personnel move that has characterized the Mavericks for lo these many years. During the embarrassing public courtship, the name Don Nelson -- he's sorta the coach -- never came up.

Not so funny, if you're an actual Mavericks fan (I know of only one, her name's Teresa) with the not-unreasonable aspiration that after decades of abject incompetence, something good might happen to your team. As a lifer Cub fan, I've learned the harsh lesson that, occasionally, reasonable physical laws, such as the law of averages, are suspended. Teresa will have to find her own way.

For myself, I fall firmly into category No.1. The real-life image of the citizenry of Dallas actually lining up to pay big money -- filling Reunion Arena! -- to see a guy with yellow hair pull down some rebounds and not take a shot is so ludicrous I can only note again that this is the capital of Cowboyland, where the usual bar for normalcy is lowered -- and recall P.T. Barnum's oft-quoted aside concerning the ubiquity of pigeons.

Cuban claims a "win-win situation" for his team. I disagree. It's lose-lose. The team, playing its best basketball in years (admittedly a relative statement) during the Dennis courtship might, looking at the upside, win a few more games. Big deal. Far more likely, Rodman will cause resentment in the locker room, screw up whatever chemistry the team has going, and personally self-destruct. But Rodman getting tossed from games will at least get the Mavs on SportsCenter, so maybe there's more of an upside than is apparent at first glance.

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