As part of Women’s History Month each March, the Dallas Mavericks join the NBA to promote the values of equality and inclusion across the world. We especially champion and celebrate female pioneers in the game of basketball and the women who influenced the lives of our players. A person doesn’t make it to the NBA; their entire family does. It’s a lifelong pursuit of purpose and often requires a ton of sacrifice and perseverance by the entire family. For Mavs’ veteran forward Dorian Finney-Smith, his journey to the NBA took decades to unfold and there are three main women who propelled him into destiny. This is their story…
DALLAS – When Dorian Finney-Smith stares into the stands, he glances at his reflection.
His daughter, Sinai, is the spitting image of her father — long and lean with a beautiful smile, full of innocent joy, a resilient force of nature.
Dorian’s mother, Desiree, is often sitting right next to her. She’s fiery and passionate, the woman Dorian credits as the original source of his inspiration.
Desiree raised six children as a single mother and cleaned houses to afford basketball travel and fees. Four of her children went on to receive athletic scholarships.
Desiree’s devotion to Dorian is admirable. She’s not afraid of anyone, and neither is her son.
That same strength has now trickled down to Sinai.
A basketball player herself, Sinai walks to her own beat and isn’t concerned that her father is an NBA player.
She knows the game, too, and makes sure to correct Doe when he’s caught slipping on the court.
“She can be bossy,” Finney-Smith said while laughing.
“Dad don’t know nothing,” Dorian added with a grin. “That is what I’m starting to learn.
“At first, I was her world. She’s still up under me all the time, but when it comes to decision-making or you tell her one thing compared to my girl (JazMyne) telling her the same thing, she is going to listen to her because dad don’t know anything.”
When the roles are reversed, Dorian arrives to Sinai’s games and sits with the other parents in the stands. He remains calm and silent.
Dorian is involved and is a proud father. But he also wants his children to blaze their own paths and learn from their coaches.
Still, sometimes people will catch the glance.
The duo speaks through their eyes. It’s a love language that spans over a decade, a journey that only a father and daughter can fully understand and appreciate.
Dorian was just 16 years old when his baby daughter rolled into the world. Sinai arrived at a time he needed her the most.
She was a gift to him. A reminder that it was okay to move forward after the tragic loss of his oldest brother.
“That was probably my breakthrough year, that year he passed,” he told NBA.com. “I can’t explain it.
“I grew physically that year, I grew taller. Basketball was my sanctuary place.”
Sinai’s birth opened Dorian’s door towards destiny. Suddenly, basketball went from a passion to a purpose.
“I was scared because I was young,” Dorian said. “I just wanted to be that provider and protector.
“I wanted to show her how a man is supposed to be.”
Dorian didn’t grow up with a father in the house, and was determined to make a better life for his daughter. He forged ahead as a leader both on and off the court, and crafted a disciplined work ethic.
Dorian’s first order of business was to teach Sinai to value education.
About five years after becoming a teenage father, Dorian earned his college degree from the University of Florida. It was a gift to his mother and daughter, the ones whose tough love propelled him into his future.
Dorian is also thankful for the other important woman in his life, JazMyne. The duo are parents to a toddler boy named Dorian Jr.
“It’s a little bit different (having a girl) than my son,” Finney-Smith said with a smile. “Got to show your emotions a little bit more.”
The veteran Dallas Mavericks forward said his mother taught him important lessons about courage, perseverance, loyalty and deep love. These are the same lessons that he now spreads to his own family.
Dorian said it’s a gift to have a daughter and always anticipates their special time together.
“My daughter really likes it when I take her on dates, just me and her,” Finney-Smith said. “She always asks for dates. Just make that time just for them.”
Life is good for the Finney-Smith family these days. Doe is now starting for the Mavericks and his mother helps run the Finney Family First Foundation with his older brother, Ben.
During last month’s NBA All-Star break, Finney-Smith had one more surprise in store for Sinai to celebrate her 10th birthday on March 6. He took his family to Disney World, only this time it was Dorian who got the last laugh.
“Sinai got on her first big girl ride,” Dorian said with a giant grin as he recalled the special day. “As soon as they pulled the latch down, she started to cry. I said, ‘Baby, it’s too late now. They already locked it.’
“But she did it and was talking about that ride the whole time. She told everyone. She just forgot to mention that she was crying. But no, that’s my baby. I was so proud of her.”