Full court press

Posted on 25 Oct 2009 at 1:29pm
By RICKY BRADLEY | Contributing Writer thesportsfag@sportsfags.com

Newcomer Kris Humphries is not just a multi-talented hunk — he may embody the Mavs’ best shot at playoff victory for years to come


MERRY KRIS-MAS | Off-season trade Kris Humphries has turned into a surprise powerhouse for the Mavs. (AP)

WATCH THEM MAVS!
Mavericks at Indiana, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. Airs on Fox Sports Southwest. Mavericks at Cleveland, Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Airs on KTXA. Philadelphia at Mavericks, American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave. Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

With the Cowboys’ recent history of yuletide implosions, gay sports fans in Dallas are becoming more thankful for the offerings from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Not only does Cuban — one of the few team owners in all of sports who’s an outspoken advocate for gay rights — work tirelessly to give Dallas fans the best team and first-class facilities, he also acquired fifth-year power forward (and gay fave hunk) Kris Humphries during the off-season.

Humphries, who was rumored to have been just a thrown-in player in the deal that brought the highly coveted Shawn Marion to Dallas, waited to sign his Dallas apartment lease until just days before the season started. Yet if his early season play is an indicator of his role on this team, Kris, who was the 2004 Big Ten freshman of the year, needs to contact Ebby Halliday.

For good teams including the Mavericks this season, much of NBA play is devoted to putting together different combinations on the floor to see what, or who, works well in a variety of situations, all in preparation for the playoffs. With early season injuries to marquee off-season additions Shawn Marion, Dwight Gooden and Tim Thomas, Humphries seized the opportunity for more playing time and is averaging career highs in minutes played (15.2), points (6.6) and rebounds (4.5).

The Mavericks needed a big man to replace the hard working, scrappy, do-anything role that was left void when former LSU standout Brandon Bass signed with the Orlando Magic this off-season. Coming off the bench, Humphries is expected to provide both size and energy. Kris’ chiseled 6 foot 9, 235-lb. frame definitely provides the muscle needed on the defensive end. But it’s his hustling style that has endeared him to both Mavs fans and the front office alike.

For Humphries, who had NBA stops in Utah and Toronto, this is his first real chance to play for a serious contender since high school. Success at a high level of competition is nothing new to this former competitive swimmer, who at 10 was tops in the nation in six events and second only to a young Michael Phelps in the remaining ones. In order to pursue a promising basketball career, however, Humphries chose gym shorts over Speedos, leaving many gay fans to wonder just how hot the Olympics would have been to watch last year as Humphries and Phelps warmed up together.

What Cuban has accomplished in football-mad Dallas is remarkable considering the Mavericks own the current NBA consecutive home sell-out streak at 300-plus games. You know you are the "hot ticket" in Dallas when the American Airlines Center’s lower bowl is filled with big-haired, East Texas oil whores, drinking copious amounts of alcohol while admitting to know very little about the game. For all Jerry Jones has tried to accomplish at his new Death Star in Arlington, the place to be seen in Dallas is on Victory Lane.

After losing to Denver in the second round of the playoffs last year, it was obvious the Mavericks needed to add size and athleticism to compete with not only the Nuggets but with the Lakers and Spurs. Dallas also needed a healthy and rested Dirk Nowitzki, who stayed away from basketball during the off-season for the first time in several years.

With close to 20 percent of the season complete and without major contributions from five injured key players, the Mavericks are off to one the best starts in franchise history. The good news is that the confidence and optimism that Dirk and the other Mavericks who were around for the collapse in the 2006 NBA Finals quietly admit they had been missing for the past couple of seasons is back.

The bad news is that the Lakers and Spurs got stronger during the off-season as well. So while the Mavericks did all they could to get more athletic and add some size, it still may not be enough come playoff time.

What is crystal clear is that in terms of players’ ages, the Mavericks are now the oldest team in the NBA and Dirk is primed for a big season. So the window of opportunity for Dirk to win a championship here in Dallas will soon be closing. The other off season acquisitions — Marion, Gooden and Thomas — are proven commodities, Cuban’s is betting that Kris is one of those players who will help Dirk and the Mavs get over the hump. •

Ricky Bradley aka "TheSportsFag" writes the blog SportsFags.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 27, 2009.

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