Yes, the Mavs’ season came to a close last night. Luka showed us, if there was any doubt, that he is a transcendent talent who will lead this team for many years to come. Analyst Skin “Jeff” Wade, in the post-game show, dubbed him the Baby Boss. I think we should all start using that moniker for him, along with “Zac’s Slovenian son.” The team goal this season was to make the playoffs. They did that. Most folks expected the Clippers to dominate. At times they did. But the Mavs took two games in thrilling fashion, and even in their loss yesterday, they gave the Clippers all they could handle, cutting a 20-point deficit to just 6 early in the fourth quarter.
So in terms of the rebuilding process, the Mavs are ahead of schedule. Next season, they need to inject Kristaps’ knees with adamantium and improve their team defense.
But here’s what I came here to tell you. Here’s the most trenchant sports point that you’ll read in Dallas today. This is the sort of content you come to FrontBurner for. Here it is: Derek Harper absolutely must stop using the crutch phrase “as a player.”
First, let me say that Harp was one of the players who made me fall in love with the Mavs. Rolando Blackman, Mark Aquirre, Sleepy Sam Perkins, James Donaldson, Brad Davis, Detlef Schrempf. I loved them all. Wasn’t a huge fan of Steve Alford. But anyway. Derek Harper. Loved him as a player.
See what I did there? I mean, obviously I didn’t love him as a father. I didn’t love him as a philosopher. So why did I add “as a player”? Wasted words.
If you watch the local Mavs broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest (as you should, because it is far superior to the national broadcasts), you will hear Harper qualify his comments with “as a player” more often than I would prefer. As in: “Luka needs to improve his free throw percentage as a player.” Or: “As a player, Trey Burke is not afraid to take it to the rim.” And: “Boban, as a player, will do things that don’t show up on the stat sheet that every team needs from a center, as a player.”
I made up those quotes, but they are dang close to Harper’s typical “as a player”s. With some friends of mine, we’ve turned this into a drinking game where we don’t actually drink because none of us can afford to get as drunk as we’d get if we took a drink every time Harper said “as a player.” Think I’m kidding? During yesterday’s broadcast, Harper said “as a player” 16 times, including one 30-second stretch when he said it three times. Listen for yourself:
My point is this: in the off season, everyone needs to work on his game. I can promise you that Luka will return next season with a move we haven’t seen yet. My guess is that it will be Raiden’s lightning, which is ↓, → + LP. Harper needs to step it up, too. Next season, I’d like to see him get his “as a player”s down to five per game.
Harp, you can do it. As a broadcaster.