37-year old Jason Kidd equated Mavericks media day to the first day of school. Perfect analogy. It's the first time many of these players have seen each other since the season ended. Everyone has a bit of that youthful exuberance that comes with a new year. They players are all in great moods and optimistic about their chances this season. Hugs, air-kisses and buzz cuts galore. More on that final one in a moment.
Every player got the memo to stress how deep the team is. Four different players told me that three to four of their bench players could start elsewhere.
Shawn Marion is expected to be one of those bench players. He's been a starter his whole career and admits that a shift to the bench will be hard. But he adds, in only the way Marion can, that if it works he's down with it.
A few more observations:
*Dirk Nowitzki is always in a great mood to start media day. This year, perhaps, even better. No offseason drama or huge news regarding any players this season, except for his free agent deal. Nowitzki traveled this summer and didn't pick up a basketball for three and a half months, the longest he's ever gone without touching a ball. He played a lot of tennis and ran but no basketball. He started shooting a few weeks ago and said he had a hard time finding his shot. I still can't believe he would struggle handling a basketball.
*Rodrigue Beaubois' English is improving. This is a good thing considering he needs to be vocal when he's on the floor. He was out of his walking boot, wearing tennis shoes and seemed to be walking well. He's been doing a ton of rehab work, stationary bike and watching film after breaking his foot this summer. He just started shooting but has a hard time because he can't jump. The entire team is optimistic he can be back by early November.
*Caron Butler definitely looks leaner. His infamous offseason workout regime in Chicago has been well-chronicled. The workouts weren't necessarily the hard part. For him, the diet was a bitch (to which I say, welcome the world of women everywhere). Butler is a Mountain Dew addict. Giving up sodas was one of the hardest things he had to do. He told me his trainer had people at his hotel spying on him. If he wanted to cheat and order pancakes from room service - not happening.
*Tyson Chandler is perhaps one of the nicest NBA players I've ever met. He says he's as healthy as he felt in years and expects to be a vocal, enforcing presence in the middle for Dallas.
*The Mavericks want to reduce minutes for Nowitzki and Kidd. But like Kidd told me, "every year that's the goal." Good intentions. Let's see if it happens this season. Kidd is sort of the teacher this year. Call Kidd Mr. Morita, if you will, with Roddy B, Dominique Jones, even JJ Barea still serving as young grasshoppers.
*Head Coach Rick says the Mavericks need to be better at home. Dallas was 28-13 last season. He wants to see that win total north of 30, shooting for a mark of at least "31 or 32".
Many of the said they preferred longer-locked Carlisle. Roddy B was smart and issued a "no comment" when I asked him about it.
Apparently Carlisle is into it, giving Mavs photo guru Danny Bollinger a close-crop cut as well. Still hunting for pics on those.