It was last season that Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle publicly called then Mavericks point guard Darren Collison a “career backup.” In what must have been too humbling an experience for Collison, he was benched for a couple of aging veterans — first for Derek Fisher, followed by Mike James.
Collison was, of course, in Carlisle’s doghouse. And he never got out. Now with the Los Angeles Clippers, Collison, who’s currently starting in place of the injured J.J. Redick, is on fire. In his last two games, Collison has scored 28 points and 23 points, respectively. In both those games, Collison has played over 40 minutes. Last year with the Mavericks, Collison played 40 minutes in a game just twice the entire season.
But it’s not just the last two games for Collison. His minutes increased in early March and, for the month, Collison averaged a neat 15.5 points, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals. And who knows? The UCLA product and California native may have even Wally Pipped Redick. Perhaps it was just an increased workload and responsibility that Collison needed. Of course, playing with the mighty Chris Paul is going to make anyone in the NBA better, but Dirk Nowitzki is no slouch either.
Either way, there’s no way on earth those words from Carlisle have not motivated Collison. How could he not want to prove Carlisle wrong? Carlisle is like the teacher who told a student that he would never amount to anything in life.
Collison must have the dates for when the Clippers face the Mavericks marked on his calendar, too, because he’s gotten up for all three of those games. They’ve all been heartbreaking Maverick losses, and Collison has played well, making big play after big play. After each made shot or assist, he’s probably thinking, “How do you like me now, Rick?”
A look at today’s calendar and it’s the Mavericks coming to the Staples Center to face those piping-hot Clippers. There’s too much to worry about when facing this star-studded squad, but the Mavericks better not sleep on the monster Rick Carlisle created.