The Dallas Mavericks made a statement in more ways than one in recent days, following a report that claimed recently acquired center DeAndre Jordan was failing to gel with his new teammates and letting them down with his allegedly “selfish” play.
The controversy started on Monday when ESPN’s Tim MacMahon gave his take on the Mavericks, who were then struggling with a 4-8 record and ranked 24th out of 30 teams in the publication’s power rankings for the week. In his blurb on the Mavs, MacMahon warned fans not to be deceived by Jordan’s “solid” statistics and pointed out purported examples of the veteran center’s selfishness since joining the team in the offseason on a one-year contract.
“He has rubbed teammates the wrong way with what they perceive as selfish play, the most blatant example being when he stole an uncontested rebound from Luka Doncic by putting his forearm in the prized rookie’s back and tipping the ball away. Jordan’s disinterest in playing help defense has been a big problem as Mavs opponents light up the scoreboard.”
Two days after ESPN published its most recent power rankings, the Dallas Mavericks improved to a 6-8 record, picking up their third straight win as they routed the Utah Jazz, 118-68, on Wednesday. As pointed out by SportsDay, the Jazz’s 22-point output in the second half represented a defensive record for the Mavericks as the fewest ever points scored by an opponent, regardless of half. Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle described his team’s defensive effort as the best he’s ever seen in his 11 years in charge of the Mavericks.
“I’m just really impressed with the way the guys brought it against a ridiculously difficult team to play,” said Carlisle.
According to SportsDay, the Mavericks’ domination of the Jazz came less than 24 hours after the team “rallied” around DeAndre Jordan and defended him on social media, claiming there was no truth to the rumors that his selfish play and lack of defensive effort was hurting the team.
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) November 14, 2018
In an Instagram post, second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. lashed out at ESPN’s claims, calling them “fake news” and maintaining that Dallas has “[its] eyes on the prize.” This post was liked by several other Mavericks players, with assistant coach Darrell Armstrong also chiming in on Instagram by sending “good vibes” to Jordan and insisting that the 30-year-old center is a hardworking, energetic player who cannot be considered selfish.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke to SportsDay about ESPN’s report and stressed that the claims are “ridiculous,” especially since DeAndre Jordan’s arrival has helped the team lead the NBA in defensive rebounding after being so “horrible” in the previous season. He also clarified the moment ESPN’s MacMahon was referring to in his assessment of the Mavericks, explaining that Jordan was simply “going after every rebound,” with no malice meant toward Doncic.
“The reaction was ‘I wanted the ball in Luka’s hands because I wanted the fast break,’ but I know DeAndre’s going after every rebound.”
Jordan himself took some time to comment on the allegations and told SportsDay that in his 11 seasons in the NBA, nobody has said “a bad thing about [him]” as a player or a teammate. Currently, he is averaging 10.6 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocked shots per game in his first year with the Mavericks after spending 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers.