The NBA is Teaching Us a Lesson We Should Apply to Our Dynasty Leagues
Image Credit: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Justin Jefferson.

Full disclosure: I have been a fan of Dallas area sports teams since I was a kid in the early to mid-eighties and grew up in the northern suburbs of the DFW Metroplex. It’s been a pretty good ride for Dallas in terms of sports lately. As frustrating as they are, the Cowboys made the playoffs, a Dallas-based golfer has maintained his two-year stranglehold on the No. 1 spot in the world golf rankings (Scottie Scheffler was born in New Jersey, but has been based out of Dallas since he was a kid), the Texas Rangers won a surprise World Series championship, the Dallas Stars are in the Western Conference Finals, and the Dallas Mavericks broke through Thursday night, setting up a Dallas-Boston NBA Finals starting June 6. At the risk of being insufferable, everything hit its latest in a line of fantastic crescendos one week ago today when this happened:

My love for the Cowboys is unconditional. Scoff if you must, but the heart wants what the heart wants. They will always be No. 1 for me, and that’s because my loyalties are drawn on regional lines and I love football most. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls within my consciousness, but I was a teenager then; not knowing how difficult it can be to scale the mountaintop, I figured it would always be that way.

I’m happy to admit I’m very much in on the joke though, so once the pain heals after each insufferable early playoff exit, I can laugh about the Cowboys’ long-running futility, especially knowing I’ve gotten to see them win three titles in the years of my consciousness. Not every fan can experience that, so I know I’m truly fortunate. In fact, as the Rangers wear the latest World Series rings on the market and the Stars and Mavericks inch ever closer, it’s pretty amusing to picture Jerry Jones’ reaction as he and his team have been left entirely behind.

LIFE WITH THE MAVERICKS WASN’T ALWAYS SO SWEET

As much as the Cowboys will always be first for me, the Mavericks will always be second. My older sister worked in-game promotions for the team as a teenager, and back then, the team policy for minor employees was that accompaniment by an adult was mandatory. As such, we got discounted tickets to games, so, at age nine, I was there for about half the home games in 1987, when Derek Harper, Rolando Blackmon, Mark Agguire, Sam Perkins, and James Donaldson took the Showtime Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. I endured the nineties, when the Mavs had the worst winning percentage of any non-expansion team in the four major team sports, and I was thrilled when Calvin Booth banked in a simple last-second two-footer to win the Mavericks’ first playoff series in thirteen seasons in 2001. I felt the crushing disgust of winning the first two-and-a-half games against Miami in the 2006 Finals only to blow it and lose in six. I endured the torture of having Don Nelson return with Baron Davis and the eighth-seeded Warriors the following year and send the 60-win Mavs packing in the first round. And my biggest sports cry of all time came when Dirk Nowitzki, seemingly an awesome human being, ran off the court crying as the final seconds ticked off and the Mavs toppled the James-Wade-Bosh Miami Heat to win the 2011 Larry O’Brien Trophy, reversing all those years of bad fortune and solidifying his legacy as an all-time great.

But while I’ll admit this is a pleasant point of discussion for me today, I’m not here (solely) to brag about my favorite basketball team and their appearance in the Finals. The Mavericks did something incredibly sharp a year ago; I believed this then and have continued to believe it, even when my bandwagon had grown humble at midseason. But here we are, and I’m now justified to the small handful of friends and family I’ve said these words to; and while I can’t gain credit for that forethought in the public square, I can at least share the lesson I believe it teaches us. It can be taken across all sports and is applied better in dynasty fantasy football than in real life, where personalities and team chemistry tend to get in the way.

The lesson?

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Mat Irby

RotoViz contributor since 2023, fantasy player since 1991, and someone who occasionally dabbles in full-time film work when no one's looking - even on a thing or two you've seen. Atlanta is for sleeping, but Dallas will always be home.

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