The excitement level in Dallas this morning must be Gino levels of euphoric. Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic in the same backcourt? Mavericks fans can't wait to unveil their awesome new toy.
Kyrie only comes with brief instructions -- roll him a ball and watch him make magic -- but the fine print is worth parsing, because it is lengthy and contradictory and dispiriting. As a public service from one city that has already lived the Irving experience to another that's about to embark on it, allow us to provide some insight -- and foreboding -- for the Big D.
First off, the honeymoon will be amazing. As great a show as Luka Magic may be on a nightly basis, Irving conjures tricks that few humans can even conceive. He remains lightning quick when needed, but like Doncic, he's a master of reading opponents to create his openings. A feint here, a jab there, and he's gone. It's a stone-cold lock that he'll do something in his first five minutes as a Maverick that will leave fans agape, Doncic shaking his head with a smile, and Mark Cuban pumping both fists like Howard Dean.
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You won't believe your good fortune, and not just because Irving is finally giving the incomparable Doncic a worthy running mate. He's also going to be so charming that you'll legitimately wonder if the problem wasn't Irving, but us. Brooklyn was too dysfunctional, Boston too intense, Cleveland too small. But Dallas? Here's to fresh starts, because maybe Dallas is just right.
Kyrie knows how to approximate the rough outline of humble, but what starts as selfless will ultimately sound just half a beat off. He'll declare this is Luka's team and he's just here to help and he knows what it takes to win it all and he feels blessed to share that knowledge with his new teammates if they're willing to listen. He'll say this is all part of his journey and he's embracing new experiences and improving as a person and ... man, is it just me, or is he talking about himself a lot? But you'll let it go, because the Mavs are playing great and Kyrie's putting up 30 a night and this is still Luka's show.
Then comes the inevitable rough patch. Maybe the Mavs will get swept on a short road trip through San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Memphis next month. One of those games might end with Doncic missing a step-back 3 at the buzzer while Irving pleads for the ball.
After the game, he'll unleash a passive-aggressive word salad about being committed to winning and these young guys don't know what it takes and championships are hard and he's just a competitor and of course Luka took a good shot but maybe next time he'll trust him, too, and you'll be like, "Is he really mad the best player in the league just tried to win the game?"
And then Woj or Shams will hint that Doncic and Irving aren't seeing eye-to-eye and Jason Kidd will be on the hot seat because Kyrie chews up coaches like a thresher and the Mavericks will feel compelled to offer a four-year max deal because they're all-in at the edge of a cliff. Meanwhile, the Nets will be winning with Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, and Kevin Durant will be smiling again, and it'll be hard to miss how harmonious and hard-nosed the new-look Nets actually are -- no disrespect to anyone who's no longer here, of course.
Then comes the uncertainty. Maybe Irving re-signs with the Mavericks because they don't like the idea of trading two useful players and a first-round pick for nothing. Maybe he hits free agency and rejoins LeBron in Hollywood. You'll have to ignore his words, because Irving promised to re-sign in Boston and that pledge barely reached New Year's.
Just know this: No matter how good things look, Irving will get antsy and go rogue. He'll share some fascinating research about the Zionists, or he'll miss a playoff game to get, like, a rhinoplasty, or he'll decide what he really wants is to sit down with Adam Silver to share his thoughts on Pfizer and nanobots.
He won't be happy, because he's incapable. He won't stabilize the middling Mavericks, because he's a disruptor in the pejorative sense. And he definitely won't be the running mate Doncic needs, because that would require checking his ego, and that sucker is carry-on baggage taking up half an overhead bin.
Rather than trying find a fit in Dallas, he'll already be scanning the horizon for the next stop on his journey. It's just what he does. So when this partnership inevitably fails, and Irving leaves either this summer or down the road, you'll discover what those of us in Cleveland and Boston and Brooklyn already know – there's life after Kyrie, and it is a relief.