Chemistry was seriously one of my worst subjects in school. I was not good with test tube and beakers, hated the periodic table and never mastered the Bunsen burner. Amazingly, I love the study of chemistry now – when it comes to sports.
Each and every team has a different chemistry. From year to year a team can change only a few players but have completely different chemistry. Or in the case of the Mavs, the team can change almost all of the players every year and have similarly great chemistry.
Chemistry is known as the central science because it touches all other natural sciences. My memory of chemistry is that if I mixed the wrong quantities of an active ingredient, I could cause an explosion. Truth is the explosions were about the only cool thing in chemistry class. When it comes to the Mavs chemistry the active ingredient is Dirk Nowitzki. With him as the agent of change there have been very few explosions, although even he could not keep Rajon Rondo from bubbling out of his test tube and imploding last year.
Still, most years under Dirk’s watch have been more like this one. This experiment has been fun. This year Zaza Pachulia was mixed into the Mavericks test tube. He spent the first four years of his career with Ulkerspor (I think that is in his native Turkey, but it might be near his home town of Tbilisi, Georgia), and Dirk has said recently of Zaza, “We got him for a bucket of Gatorade.”
Maybe that’s because after Dirk moved into 6th place on the all time scoring list Zaza tweeted, “Congrats @swish41. Since I got in Dallas you start getting buckets. You welcome.” His English in the tweet reminds of Dirks circa 1999. And neither is ashamed to admit that you could not slide a piece of paper under the other’s feet when he jumps.
Of course with Dirk no one is sacred. He is willing to make fun of everyone on the team, including Dirk. Perhaps the best example of his self deprecating humor came after the game in Chicago last Friday. Defense helped the Mavs win that game as they came down the stretch. In fact, Dirk blocked a shot by Derrick Rose to help secure the victory. When asked about the key stop after the game Dirk said, “I don’t remember much about it, I must have blacked out.”
Even newcomers to the team realize that this future Hall-of-Famer, this NBA royalty and the undisputed leader of this thing is not sacred. Wesley Matthews was asked about the block and said, “I think it was more of a case of D-Rose putting the ball against Dirk’s hand than Dirk actually blocking the shot.” I am sure Dirk chuckled at that, and when the time is right he will let Wes know that playbacks are a bitch.
This version of the Mavs is overachieving because it’s leader is the king of chemistry. That said you need more than chemistry to win the NBA title. You need more talent than the Mavericks currently have. Still they will continue to flirt with the top four spots in the top heavy Western Conference. It is most likely that they will end up with the fifth or sixth seed when the playoffs roll around in three months. Still thanks to their active ingredient, they won’t implode.