Home > A Tale of Sport-Satire > Choking Panic Grips Mavericks

Choking Panic Grips Mavericks

DALLAS, TX – On a quiet Dallas morning just like any other, Dirk Nowitzki laboriously arose from his nightly slumber to pursue the dream he had held since he was a young boy in rural Germany. He laced up his fresh-out-of-the-box Nike sneakers, one of the many benefits of his professional relationship with the giant sports apparel supplier, and headed to the practice court in downtown Dallas.

The city had recently been engulfed in much fanfare with the start of the copyright trial involving area rapper, Que Gritz, and the world of basketball. In fact, the media circus surrounding the case had picked up so much steam that it had in essence overshadowed the Mavericks’ preparations for another tilt at the NBA title.

Nowitzki, a serial workaholic, had gone through the same routine every morning since arriving in Dallas as a lanky 7-footer, all those years ago.

  • He would wake up at 4:30AM in an effort to beat the morning chirps and songs of the birds, which he detested.
  • Head to the practice court at 5:00AM after half-an-hour worth of combing back his luscious German locks.
  • Arrive at the practice court in-time to see the rare dew that forms on the hardwood overnight, disappear into the musty gym air.
  • He would then heave up 1800 versions of his trade-mark mid-range jumper. Each one more arching and slower than the one before it.
  • Then he would shoot the same number of mid-range jumpers off of one leg in order to perfectly mimic his in-game actions when being guarded by a player with a wingspan above 6’11.
  • Before wrapping up the practice with 1000 trots up and down the court at the speed of a slowly melting ice-cube.

This regime has kept the German one of the league’s leading players throughout much of his 13 year career in the NBA. The meticulous attention to detail and near-robotic mechanics of his play show just how ‘naturally’ the game comes to him.

But this day was not like any other. Things were soon going to take a turn for the worse. Not that much worse, but just a little worse.

As his 4-hour individual regime came to an end the rest of his teammates started arriving, along with the coaching staff, for the team’s morning shoot-around.

After greeting Tyson Chandler with a customary chest bump and giving Jason “JET” Terry a signature wing flap, indicating a readiness to conduct shoot-around with greater intensity, things got off to the usual start.

Chandler would shout at each and every one of his teammates in order to “scare-out” the champion within them, before intimidating the coaching staff to the point where one of them would always threaten to quit. Important to note than none have, as of yet.

The coaching staff would then proceed to put the team through its sprints. “JET” Terry doing all the sprints with arms outstretched of course.

Half-way through the session Dirk suddenly dialed his pace down from full-on trotting to a leasurly saunter. The alarm bells rang as every single player and person in the gym went sheet-white after recognizing the aberration.

In 13 years they had never seen Dirk dial it down. In 13 years they had never seen Dirk show a single sign of fatigue. In 13 years they had never seen a single emotion from Dirk during practice.

Even during the Chandler “scare-out”, and that episode often had some, unnamed, players curled up in the fetal position rocking back-and-forth.

As Jason Kidd elaborated, “not in my wildest imagination could I have thought Dirk susceptible to mere human fatigue, the guy is a machine. A well-oiled German jugernaut.”

Dirk seemed out of breath and almost looked like something was obstructing his airway as he panted on his way down the court. Suddenly, he let out what Mavericks fans up and down the state of Texas had been praying not to hear.

He choked.

The alarm bells started to ring, literally. The Mavs public service speakers rang out with the sound of a screaming alarm. The one that irritates you so much in the morning you want to bash your phone against the nearest piece of replaceable furniture.

Within minutes news vans covering the Que Gritz trial began pulling up in front of the Mavs practice facility. Reporters massed outside. Their well-groomed appearances covering the stench of desperation on their clothes, as they craved for a soundbite and/or exclusive one-on-one.

Mavs fans had also gotten wind of the story. They came in their thousands ironically demanding the head of head coach Rick Carlisle. Shouting slogans such as “we’ve choked before, we don’t wanna choke again” and “as if 2006 playoff choking wasn’t enough, you want to put as through this again?!”

A short history of Mavericks playoff success. Choke.

For a longer history of Mavericks playoff success see “a short history of Mavericks playoff success”.

But as soon as all the uproar had began Dirk appeared in front of the crowd. Here is how the hastily organized press conference went [insert German-English accent where necessary]

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, esteemed colleagues and Mavericks nation. It was reported minutes ago that after a short sprint I was suffering, fatigued and struggling for air. I regret to inform you that this did indeed happen [crowd chatters before returning to hushed anticipation] Some also reported that I had choked during this episode. I regret to inform you that this also is true [crowd chatter drowned out by the panic of one Mavs fan, who threatens to burn a jersey unless his fears for the playoffs are addressed] But I want to tell you all today that this in no way alters our playoff ambitions. We plan to win. We plan to bring an NBA championship to the city of Dallas. As unfortunate as what happened today was it has a very simple explanation. Yesterday, I went to a Tex-Mex restaurant. I wanted to order my usual beef burrito, easy on the spice and peppers, but they were out of stock. [crowd debate amongst themselves about state of Tex-Mex] Instead, I went against every grain in my body and ordered the spicy chipotle chicken quesadillas. [man screams, “the horror”, while another shrugs his shoulders and applauds Dirk’s choice] Needless to say the food was delicious but the after-effects were not. Without boring you with the details, I had a quite severe case of food poisoning last night and today’s incident was likely the unfortunate by-product of that. I sincerely apologise to you all for the choices I have made but just the same, I take responsibility for them. I own my mistakes just as much as I own the sneakers on my feet and I want to tell all of you that this experience has  ultimately made me and the Mavs organization stronger. I want to thank you all for your concern and again  take the opportunity to apologise for my actions. Thank you.”

As the news vans packed up their equipment and the fans went about their way, I was left to ponder on what had happened that morning. More specifically the reaction to the now infamous “choke”.

…………….. [take a breath and gather yourself]

As fans and analysts of the game we all have a right to worry about our team. We taste success and defeat throughout a gruelling season without so much as any control over the performances of our team. We are held hostage by the same players we love and adore. Our cheers and boos are all that we have.  When we win, we celebrate, and when we lose, we commiserate, but what doesn’t change is our unconditional love for our team.

…………….. [ponder here]

However, it is important not to place our heroes on the raised pedastle of holiness. They are susceptible to error and bad judgement just like the rest of us.

If the roles were reversed would we want the same from the our own fans?

…………….. [ponder here]

People are people, and as much as sport prompts us to idolize, we should instead try to empathize!

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  1. May 4, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Well we had to save the Hoff jokes for when the Mavs eventually leave the playoffs. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. May 4, 2011 at 4:54 AM

    Interesting read. But hey, no David Hasselhof jokes?

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