Razzing, needling, hurling barbs. Whatever you want to call it, hassling teammates is one of the NBA’s No. 1 hobbies.
No matter how much grief you think you get at your office, it’s way more than that in an NBA locker room.
That’s what made Spencer Dinwiddie’s extended monologue about Dwight Powell after Wednesday’s 103-100 win over Utah so riveting.
In fact, it was such a refreshing, heartfelt interview session that coach Jason Kidd elected to show the video clip to the Mavericks before their film session at Thursday’s practice.
In it, Dinwiddie went on for about four minutes, unprompted, to thank Powell for doing “a glory-less job that allows guys like Luka (Dončić) and myself to be able to make plays.” And Dinwiddie added that the ninth-year pro out of Canada and Stanford does everything the right way, including being the first guy in the gym, taking care of his body and being “the great left guard where Tom Brady is getting all the accolades and endorsements, but if that dude isn’t protecting his blind side and isn’t doing it every single time, Tom Brady is getting his head knocked off.”
It was a great moment in the Mavericks’ young season and Kidd wanted to make sure it did not go unnoticed internally.
Coaches have to show film of so many mistakes, whenever possible, they want to showcase the positive things that players do.
Dinwiddie’s interview could not have been more glowing.
“We played the clip before we watched film,” Kidd said. “That was a really cool thing that Spencer did. We asked Spencer why he did it and he just said he was trying to bring a shine to a teammate, understanding the position he’s in and him being a true pro. That’s what we’re all about. We’re about each other and Spencer showed that after the game.”
Powell had played just under 19 minutes against the Jazz. He had nine points and five rebounds, but the most impressive number was the plus-25 that the Mavericks were when Powell was on the floor.
Here’s the entirety of what Dinwiddie said in his postgame chat with reporters:
“I mean, obviously he led us in plus/minus, with the plus-25 and – having been a guy, speaking for myself right now, that’s played every role from 15th man up until the second guy, right? Right around the All-Star level (and) everywhere in-between. Dwight being a guy who started on a Western Conference Finals team and lost his job is the first, second or third man in the gym every single day. Lifts after every game, eats right, takes care of his body, doesn’t drink (alcohol), does all of the things that you should do as an ultimate pro.
“(He) cheers the hardest for the people that play over him. JaVale (McGee) gets a dunk – he’s one of the first people off the bench. It’s an extreme credit to his character. It is the hardest role to have in this league to know that you can play, to have started and had success, and to be relegated to the bench not playing at all – staying ready, staying focused, and then when they call your number, to have extreme success whether it’s (in the) stat sheet or not. Sometimes, he doesn’t score or get a bunch of rebounds or whatever.
“I know Mavs fans give him a lot of flak for fouling a lot or falling on the ground or things like that, but the things that he does in terms of rolling every single time, regardless of whether he gets the ball – getting hit, getting hurt, getting knocked in the face and all that other stuff – that is a glory-less job that allows guys like Luka (Dončić) and myself to be able to make plays because his rim pressure is what then gets the weak side to pull in so we can pass to Reggie (Bullock) and Dorian (Finney-Smith) so they can hit corner 3’s where there is a lot of capability or putting decisions in the big (man’s) mindset of ‘we can’t give up layups.’
“So, in a lot of ways, he’s like that great left guard for a football team where Tom Brady is getting all the accolades and endorsements but if that dude isn’t protecting his blind side and isn’t doing it every single time, Tom Brady is getting his head knocked off. DP is the ultimate pro. I have the upmost respect for him and I hope every single Mavs fan listens to this monologue and has a different respect level for DP because everybody is not going to get to shoot 20 times and score 30 points and do all of the flashy stuff and dunk and stuff. You need guys that do things like that and are ready every single time, every single day. He’s probably in there lifting right now, to be honest. You know what I’m saying? I’m going home. He’s lifting. So like, that’s DP.”
There was more from Dinwiddie. But you get the drift.
And while Dinwiddie was the one who came out and so eloquently talked about Powell, the rest of his teammates see it all, too.
“DP is the same person every day,” Finney-Smith said Thursday. “That’s what I respect about him. If he’s playing 35 minutes or 3 minutes, he’s the same guy. You know who he is, he’s going to be a pro. He’s going to come to work here, be the last one here. He’s all about winning – all about winning.”
And while he didn’t play in two of the first three games this season, Powell did what Powell does. He kept his head down, did his work and when the opportunity has come in the last few games, he was ready to produce.
“Guys got to be prepared for different situations on different nights,” Powell said. “It’s our responsibility – guys coming off the bench – to be locked into the game plan and the tendencies and be ready to step in when called.”
It’s called being a professional.
And that is what defines Dwight Powell.