The dial is turnin’ up in Big D in more ways than one. The Mavs are on the rise. Franchise cornerstone, Luka Dončić, just completed arguably the best sophomore season in NBA history and capped it by igniting the NBA on fire with this:
The Mavs enter this season as one of the top and most exciting teams in the league. Luka, and the Robin to his Batman, Kristaps Porziņģis, will be flanked in the starting lineup by two sharpshooting, athletic, switchable wings in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Richardson. Having such versatility and size around Luka is like if Joker and Riddler turned and teamed up with The Caped Crusader. Upfront, the team is anchored by a stable of uniquely skilled bigs in Willie Cauley-Stein, Boban, Maxi Kleber, and James Johnson (who may actually be a Batman character). And at some point in the season, last year’s starting center Dwight Powell will return from his Achilles rupture.
On paper, the Mavs have the talent to contend. What will determine how far they go is what’s between the lines. “Whatever’s hot we’ll be playin’ in here,” Willie Cauley-Stein told us during media week. Music is widely known as the universal language and on a team with seven international players, it has never been more called upon to serve as the common denominator.
Fortunately—in addition to talent—the Mavs are lush with DJs, “KP, Luka, JJ, Doe-Doe, Tim, those guys like to play DJ.” Maxi Kleber shared with a big smile on his face. Passion for music and the camaraderie it fosters is cranked so high on the Mavs, there can be multiple songs bumpin’ at one time in the locker room, according to Kleber.
Kleber’s DJ list did not include Cauley-Stein who clarified, “everybody else listens to what I’m rockin’ to.” As for who that is, Cauley-Stein was quick to rep his guy Yoku Naru. While Naru may not be a household name yet, he has a hot, fresh sound fans of Travis Scott, Kid Cudi, and Kirko Bangz will love. Beyond Naru, Cauley-Stein expanded, “you can’t go wrong with the Future’s, the 2 Chainz, the Polo G’s, anybody that’s hot is gonna be playin’ in here.”
Luka shares Cauley-Stein’s love for Future, while also vibing on Bad Bunny, Lil Nas X, and the Backstreet Boys? That’s a zag! At the same time, if “I Want It That Way” can’t bring everyone together I’m not sure what will. But the prodigal son hasn’t abandoned his roots either. In this video from the Bubble, you can see Luka rockin’ to Slovenian pop and even getting members of the Mavs training staff in on some traditional Slovenian dance moves.
For Porziņģis, it seems it’s Drake all day—and who can really blame him. The Unicorn selected Drake for four of the top five songs he contributed to the Mavs Spotify playlist (along with team favorite, Future). While we may not hear Zinger on the mic anytime soon—a la Dame D.O.L.L.A.—he did help launch the career of Latvian rappers Transleiteris, thanks to their tribute song “#PORZINGIS.”
For every team, band, film crew, there are three choices: underachieve, equal the sum of your parts, or overachieve. The sum of the 2021 Mavs parts are equivalent to a platinum album. But to become something greater, threes and rebounds are the ends, not the means. The means will be found in moments. Everyone connecting over the hot new track, Luka teaching the guys Slovenian dance moves, dinners, hugs, daps. If this team unites off the court, their chemistry on it will be as smooth as The Temptations harmonies. And with the Mavs vibrant passion for music already unifying this locker room filled with men from around the world, this is going to be quite the season.