In the classic Queen hit We Will Rock You, a boy makes a big noise, a young man is going to take on the world and an old man is going to make him some peace someday.
Meet Luka Dončić, Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
Three NBA superstars at different junctures of their careers. All of them want the same thing.
The Mavericks have the young boy, relatively speaking, as 23-year-old Dončić figures out his way in the league he’s dreamed about dominating his whole, basketball-centric life.
Phoenix has Booker, who is three years older than Dončić, which may not sound like a lot, but rest assured, it’s not the months, it’s the NBA mileage that counts. And in his seventh year, Booker is hungry.
But not as hungry as Paul, the 37-year-old Suns point guard who has been around 17 seasons and still is chasing that elusive championship ring.
And all three of them know that chances for greatness are not guaranteed from year to year. Tons of stars have gotten to the NBA finals early in their career, thought they’d be there every season and then had to wait years before getting another crack.
The progression of Dončić is what Mavericks fans care about most. And he’s been sensational in these playoffs as he tries to lead the Mavericks deeper than just about anybody thought they could go this season.
They are facing long odds now. They trail 3-2 in the Western Conference semis and are one more loss from elimination. They need a win Thursday night at American Airlines Center (8:30 p.m. tipoff) to force Game 7 Sunday in Phoenix.
The home team has yet to lose in this series. The Mavericks need to keep that trend intact for exactly one more game.
And their confidence in Luka is immeasurable. They want one more shot at the Suns in Phoenix.
“His young career has always been on the road, European basketball, being so young and being away from home, just understanding the environment of t against the whole (opposing) team,” coach Jason Kidd said. “He doesn’t mind that. He’s done it here. But now we’ve got him some help.
“He’s not afraid of the stage at 23. You saw that in the Olympics. You see it in the playoffs this year. You saw it in the playoffs last year. That’s a good trait to have.”
It’s the same one Booker and Paul possess. They’ve been chasing the dream a bit longer than Luka. But they know what is at stake in the coming days.
“This is just what I’ve been preparing for,” Booker said after the Suns blew out the Mavericks in Phoenix in Game 5. “Even those seasons where we didn’t make it, I sat there, I took that anger to the gym and just imagined myself being in (these) situations.
“Imagination is a big part of this. So I had to use some imagination playing in playoff games in my workouts. So I guess it’s working out a little bit. But we got some room to go.”
Little kids like Paul, Booker and Dončić started out on playgrounds dreaming of winning it all.
Now, the Suns are one win away from the Western Conference finals.
The difference is that everybody expected them to be there. They went 64-18 in the regular season, when they were clearly superior to everybody else in the league.
If they don’t make it to the NBA finals – and win it – it will be a disappointment, particularly to Paul, who has labored for so long at such a high level.
And while Paul has enemies around the league, there is nobody connected with the NBA who doesn’t appreciate his talent, toughness and drive.
“He’s tough, man. He’s a hell of a player,” Luka said. “He’s been in the league a lot of years. He knows what this is about, so he’s very tough.”
And of course, Kidd knows exactly what Paul is going through. Kidd had several close calls when it came to winning a championship with the Nets, falling twice in the NBA finals.
He was on the downside of his career when he finally got to paydirt with the Mavericks in 2011.
“When you come into the league and your drafted, you want to win a championship,” Kidd said. “You’re a little naïve in the sense that you want to get it done with the team you’re drafted. There are great teams out there, so you have to be patient.
“In Jersey, I thought we had a chance there to win one, but we came up short. But when you’re a competitor and you want to win, there’s only one prize and there’s only one team that wins it. Hopefully, you can put yourself in that position. But there has to be a little luck. And you have to have a good team.
“Chris has done that. He’s the smartest in the league. He’s seen it all. And he’s put himself and his team right back where they were last year.”
With a chance to win it all.
And the Mavericks and Luka are standing right there alongside, fully believing they have a chance to win it all, too.
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