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by Mike Fisher    Wed, Apr 9, 2008, 05:35 PM
From Avery's job security to Dick Vitale at Hooters to jocks at strip clubs to pregnant men to 200 bucks worth of meat, allow me, please, to get a few sports takes off my hairy chest. ...

ITEM: The Mavs are starting to collect style points for closing. And, thus begins another year-end juggling act for Avery Johnson and staff: How much do guys need to play? How assured are the Mavs of a playoff spot? Do they concern themselves with wanting to be No. 7 or No. 8, depending on the projected postseason foe? Do you tighten the rotation, or get guys some rest?

Job One is Dirk.

“Dirk's a warrior, but he's not stupid,’’ said Mavs boss Mark Cuban. “We're not going to put ourselves in a position where, ‘yeah, we got to the playoffs, but Dirk can't play.’ We might be dumb, but we're not stupid.’’

Cuban said the word “Warrior’’ and then, with a jab to some of the collected media, noted that he didn’t mean “Golden State Warrior.’’ He didn’t want some sloppy blogger to misinterpret.

ITEM: Our friend Bill Ingram is pushing the idea that Tony Cubes won’t fire Avery because that’s what the owner said Tuesday night. Bill’s in that locker room digging, and this qualifies as the first “vote of confidence’’ of the coach’s young career. I would submit, though, that at this moment, it’s hard to tell a justifiable “foxhole mentality’’ from a “definitive plan to go forward for next year.’’

ITEM: Which QB is really behaving goofily: Romo sucking face, or Matt Leinart sucking beer bongs and champagne bottles?

ITEM: The Mavs are 49-29. One win shy of the landmark of 50. Again. I almost forgot to include this, which speaks to how spoiled we’ve become.

ITEM: Jerry Stackhouse (groin) plans to return to action on Sunday in Seattle. And it again begs the question: How much should he play? Where does he fit?  Can he be counted on to be healthy in the postseason?

These are “problems,’’ but good problems to have. Worrying about postseason stuff beats the alternative.

ITEM: A couple of potential first-round NFL draftees admit they've smoked pot. Not the wisest thing to do, what with millions of dollars maybe riding on a puff. And I can say that as a guy who is frightened of aspirin. On the other hand. ... will teams really pass on 'the othewise right guy' because he's dabbled in the chronic? Really?

ITEM The Mavs are announcing that single-game tickets for their first two home playoff games in Round 1 of the 2008 NBA Playoffs will go on sale starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12th. Tickets will be available online at, via phone at 1-800-4NBA-TIX and at the American Airlines Center North Box Office.

Tickets priced $12 and up will be available and purchase is limited to four tickets per person -- two tickets for each game or four tickets for one game. There will be approximately 1,000 tickets available for purchase for each game.

A lottery system will be in place for those fans that choose to purchase their tickets at American Airlines Center. Beginning at 7 a.m., a lottery number will be given to each fan. At approximately 9 a.m., there will be a drawing to determine the first person in line. All numbers sequentially following the drawn number will be the second, third, fourth, etc. in line.

Please note that game tickets are available through all channels simultaneously, and as a reminder, lottery numbers (at American Airlines Center) do not guarantee anyone the right to purchase game tickets. Tickets will be sold upon availability.

American Airlines Center policy prohibits camping out on the premises. Dates and times for the first two games have not been announced but will be posted on by April 17th.

ITEM: Stack has been spending time in one of those hyperbaric chambers, a recovery device made famous by Terrell Owens. Dirk’s been in there, too. Did the machine make him dumber? No, funnier.   

ITEM: The Final Four bans Hooters Girls ads. Those women are completely inappropriate for the NCAA and can only come back if they don sorority sweaters and get hammered.

ITEM: I notice that when media people say it's wrong to hang out at strip clubs, they usually mean it's wrong for everybody but media people to hang out at strip clubs.

ITEM: The NY Times reports that T.O. is pals with Andy Roddick. I smell a VH-1 reality show. 

ITEM: Speaking of (un)reality: A transsexual gay man is having a baby. Which might seem fair to the transsexual, and might seem fair to the gay, and might seem fair to the man. … but seems like a crappy thing to do to the baby.

ITEM: Want three reasons not to bet on NBA games? On Tuesday night, the Pistons were favored by 12 over the Knicks and lost after falling behind by 20-plus. The Hornets were favored by 5.5 over the Jazz and lost after falling behind by 20-plus. The Lakers were favored by 9 over the Blazers and lost after falling behind by 18. 

Oh, and definitely don’t “tease’’ those three favorites together. Definitely.

ITEM: In a TV ad for the Volkswagon Beetle, Bobby Knight throws a chair. Hey, if they upgrade him to a Volksweagon Jetta, will he choke a kid?  

ITEM: Yeah, yeah. I enjoyed Monday night’s NCAA finale. I would’ve enjoyed it more, though, had Memphis closed the deal. Only because “DTF,’’ the pool entrant that woulda won it all in DMagazine’s contest,  is my 18-year-old son, Nate. (“DTF’’ is a naughty “Superbad’’ reference, for you oldsters.) Grand prize would’ve been a $200 gift certificate to Texas de Brazil. Nate, Tony and me. Two-hundred dollars worth of meat. Certainly would’ve lasted us 10 or 15 minutes.

ITEM: That AT&T “exclusive look’’ at how pro athletes live commercial featuring Deion Sanders? It’s been running all year on Mavs telecasts, and I must say: When Deion is shown riding his scooter inside his manse and says to the camera, “I don’t even know how many rooms we have in this place!’’ it is not one of Deion’s more endearing moments.

ITEM: Skip Bayless says Olympic swimmers aren’t athletes. How about it Skip tries swimming. … while using cement blocks for flippers?

ITEM: Love the pre-Seattle quote from J-Kidd: “The marathon is coming down to the end now. These five games are important. We want to win all five going into the postseason on a high note, healthy and confident. We have a great opportunity to do that.’’ 

He’s onto something. Utah here, Portland there, Seattle there and New Orleans here. As of this writing, Dallas will be favored to win all four, favored to finish the year with six straight wins, favored to end with wins in eight in its last nine games, favored to be a team that can be remembered as having closed by beating Golden State, Phoenix, Utah and New Orleans.

Now, there are at least two big 'if's' needing to fall into place there. Still. ... Funny how things can change in a week, eh? 

ITEM: Just to balance things out, we finish with some MavVirus illness – paranoia or contagious failure or whatever. First to the Basketball Hall of Fame, which once again decided Don Nelson was not quite worthy. Nellie falls short but somebody named “Cathy Rush’’ makes it. What did Nellie do wrong, besides spent part of his non-Basketball-Hall-of-Fame career with the Mavs? Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki was terrific in that win at Phoenix, and he’s the MVP, and he’s been a perennial All-Star and he’s been in the league for a decade. So how can the AP misspell his name “Nowitski’’? I mean, the Associated Press features CLASSICALLY TRAINED JOURNALISTS! But they can do it because he’s a Mav, that’s why.

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