Following Your Team Into A Pact Can Be Stupid And Liberating At The Same Damn Time


On February 7th, with the Dallas Mavericks at a God-awful record of 21-28, word got out that the Mavs made a pact within their basketball team. Legend has it that O.J. Mayo was the ringleader, and he suggested that the Mavs grow their beards out as a sign of solidarity and not to shave until they reached .500.

Soon after, word of the pact got out to the fans and the Mavs even made it a formal thing, making a pledge on their official Facebook page for fans to show their support by not shaving, and for the folks who had to, to wear Mavs paraphernalia until they reached their goal.

For some, I imagine they looked at the pact with disgust. Here was a team that was a world champion less than two years ago, and they were making a pact to grow beards until they reached .500. How pathetic.

However, I saw something different. As a lifelong fan of the Mavs, I decided to make the pledge and follow their lead. Sure, the Mavs were seven games under, but Dirk Nowitzki was regaining form from his injury, and I figured the pledge would last a few weeks, at the most, before I'd be in the barbershop, in Chico's chair, getting it cut off.

Well, it didn't exactly go that way. Soon, the Mavs started to resemble a group of characters that looked they didn't bathe, let alone shave. See, the pact included no lining of beards, no trims, nothing. The only exception was cutting hair under your neck, so it wouldn't get caught in shirts, but hell, what was that going to do? So what started off as a pact built off of fun, team-building and even a morale booster turned into an exercise of patience and resolve, mixed in with a healthy dose of frustration.

The Mavs would go on a winning streak, inching closer and closer to .500, only to lose a lead in a game and fall back into a hole. The Mavs, on two occasions, got within one game of .500, only to get their dicks kicked in the dirt at home against the Pacers and at Staples Center against the Lakers. The Pacers game is affectionally known around Dallas as The Omar Game, since Mayo invited Omar The Barber to the arena in anticipation of a Mavs' win and the opportunity to finally shave. However, it was all for naught since the Pacers heard about the pact, beat the crap out of the Mavs and sent fans like myself back to work looking even more crazy for signing up for this foolishness.

After the third time to reach .500 came, only for the Mavs to lose, at home, to the Phoenix Suns, one of the most terrible teams in the league, I lost it. I went on a tirade against the Mavs, the fans, myself and anyone else invested in the franchise. With four games to go, there was no way they would reach .500, not if beating Phoenix couldn't happen. I was resigned to my fate. The beard was here to stay.


However, unexpected things began to happen. For one, my hate for Elton Brand lessened daily. Hell, this is the first time I've called him by his name in five years. Before then, it was Judas, Benedict Arnold, Benedict Brand, traitor, backstabber and a host of other unsavory labels for his hoodwinking of Baron Davis back in 2008 when Davis signed with the Clippers and Brand ended up in Philly to play for the Sixers. Remember, the Clippers were nowhere near then what they are now, and despite being in the playoffs just two years before, they were still the Los Angeles Clippers. The Baron and Brand teaming up was going to be a step in the right direction, but it didn't happen.

Anyway, Brand committed two cardinal sins: he played college basketball at Duke, and he bamboozled The Baron, one of my favorite players, to go to Basketball Hell, only to go elsewhere. I didn't just hate Brand; I despised him. People hated on LeBron James in 2010 for leaving Cleveland as a free agent, but that place was reserved for Elton Brand for what he did two years earlier. I thought he was a scumbag, a slimeball.

Anyway, Brand came here last off-season and since he was now a Maverick, the fan in me had to embrace him, but it wasn't until he joined the beard pact that bygones became bygones and I came to like Brand. He played hard, grew out his beard and kept his beard, just as other players who took the pact. Now I'm not saying the Mavs should retire his jersey; I'm merely saying he's a real man and someone I have no bad things to say about anymore.

For two, it gave the fans something to rally around, a unified cause. Look, as a fan of the Mavs, I know we stink right now. I know this and accepted our fate once the title team was blown to smithereens in the summer of 2011. The Mavs made the playoffs last year, but they weren't going anywhere, which was evidenced by a sweep at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.

The Mavs have been even more deplorable this year, but the beard pact, as silly as it was, was still a lot of fun. If the Mavs couldn't play for a title, at least they could play for their dignity, which is pretty much all that the players, and fans, have going for us this season.

Well, as of last night, the pact ended. The Mavs drilled the Hornets, and at 40-40, after two months and six days that the pact was made public, the Dallas Mavericks are back to .500 and can finally shave. As soon as the game was over, before Rick Carlisle even addressed the team, Dirk was in the locker room shaving his beard off his face. OJ Mayo said he would wait and that he needed Omar The Barber to do it, so he wouldn't lose his mind with his clippers. I feel him on that as well. Don't get me wrong; I am thrilled to finally shave, but I was on a bus back from Daytona Beach last night so I was unable to get to my barber, Chico, and cut mine once I got the news. It's gonna have to wait until the weekend, but best believe it's a trip I absolutely cannot wait to make.

The oil sheen can be tossed to the side along with the long-toothed comb that has been a constant companion of mine for weeks now. I no longer have to wipe tomato sauce out of my beard when I eat pizza or alfredo sauce when I eat chicken alfredo or wipe drops of milk off when I drink my daily shakes. I no longer have to hear women ask, "When are you gonna shave that damned beard?" It's all over, and even with no postseason on deck for the Dallas Mavericks, the season will end on a high note. An unconventional one, surely, but a high note nonetheless.

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