WHITT’S END: 2.11.22
Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …
*On Feb. 4, 2019, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban beamed, and bristled. He had just orchestrated a blockbuster trade to acquire the NBA’s “Unicorn”, 7-foot-3 All-Star Kristaps Porzingis, to pair him with budding superstar Luka Doncic. And he wasn’t open to hearing from skeptics who contended that his team gave up too much for a player that might be both too expensive and too fragile.
“Our goal,” Cuban interrupted a questioner during Porzingis’ introductory press conference, “is to keep them together for the next 20 years.”
Barely made it three.
Thursday’s deadline-beating trade of Porzingis to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans abruptly, sadly – yet predictably – ended the Unicorn Undertaking.
When healthy and motivated, Porzingis was decent in Dallas. But his catch-and-shoot perimeter game was inconsistent. He was unable to initiate offense off the dribble or with a play-making pass. And, mostly, he was – ahem – injury-prone.
Porzingis deteriorated into DFW’s tallest part-time employee, showing up for work just more than half the time as a Maverick and this season playing in only 34 of 55 games. (Seriously, did he even qualify for the team’s employee benefits?)
An athlete’s most important ability is availability. During his first 12 seasons in Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki missed a total of only 32 games. Over 21 seasons, he had 14 in which he missed five or fewer games. And for his career, Dirk played in 91 percent (1,522 of 1,674) of possible Mavs games.
Porzingis, meanwhile, missed his final five games as a Mav with a bruised knee, and over three seasons played in only 64 percent (134 of 209) of possible games.
Look, Robin wasn’t always the perfect sidekick for Batman. But he showed up in way more than 64 percent of the episodes. No secret that the “Unicorn” was no GOAT. Porzingis was indeed unique, but only as a fantasy that appeared about as much as a winged horse with a horn on its forehead.
*Perhaps unburdened (wink) by his former teammate’s departure, Doncic went out Thursday night and produced the second-highest scoring game in franchise history.
He made seven 3-pointers against the Clippers in the first quarter en route to 28 points (he missed two free throws to break Dirk’s record of 29 in quarter set in ’09) and finished with a career-high 51. Only four Mavs have scored 50: Luka, Dirk, Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson. I witnessed the last two performances that, amazingly, came within two weeks of each other – on the road, …….