Tag Archive: Dallas

There are those in the media who playfully mock fans who get excited about a preseason game, but educated fans knew that Miles Austin, Jay Ratliff, and Tony Romo had something based on their alleged “meaningless” performances in these games. With that in mind, here’s what mattered from last night’s game:

Denver’s opening drive against the first team defense

Cover art for a fat-fetish erotica novel

There will be severe growing pains as the defense tries to absorb the new, complex Rob Ryan defense. Even when all 11 players have sufficiently grasped the concepts, assignments, and terminology, there will still be several big plays surrendered because of the gambling nature of Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. In the preseason, Sensabaugh will be late a few times when asked to cover a corner blitz and pick up the receiver. I don’t put much stock in the fact that Dallas had some blown coverages against Denver, because I think that is merely the product of learning a new system with no off season. What concerns me about Denver’s opening drive is how the Cowboys simply got manhandled up front against the run. The fact that the Bronco’s young offensive line frequently overpowered the front three for Dallas has to be cause for concern. This was not a product of learning a new scheme; it was simply power and skill, and the Dallas front three looked less than competitive. Certainly plugging Ratliff back in the middle will help, but he has his biggest impact on the passing game. I believe that this defensive line will tell us a lot about Garrett as a coach. He appears to be the kind of coach that does not believe in the “incumbent starter”; if that is true, then Igor Olshansky will not be on the field for the Jets’ opening drive on September 11. In fact, one wonders if, at $3.34 million this season, Olshansky should even be on the roster. The only justification I can see is Hatcher’s injury history, but that seems like an expensive insurance policy.

The kicking game

David Buehler’s value took a serious hit when the NFL decided to move kick-offs up to the 35 yard line. (Doesn’t it seem like kickers should spend more time trying to increase kick-off hang time and force the receiving team to field the ball around the 3 yard-line?). With touchbacks now a foregone conclusion, Buehler is no longer needed for his big leg or his kick coverage. The days of keeping a kick off specialist are over, which means that the kicker’s sole job is to make field goals (and extra points, which I guess we shouldn’t take for granted based on last year). From most reports, rookie Dan Bailey has at worst kept pace, and at best out-kicked Buehler at camp. Though Bailey did not get a field goal attempt in the first preseason game, Buehler did. Is it splitting hairs to say that even though Buehler made his 42 yard kick last night, the fact that it barely, and I mean barely, sneaked through the uprights concerns me? Here’s the bottom line: this team should be favoring younger players at every position. If the talent is close to a push, then the younger player should get the nod. That’s what 6-10 teams do. Buehler was handed the job last year and did not deliver, and he has shown little improvement in camp this season. Again, I’d love to see Garrett favor youth in this situation.

Opportunity is knocking; let the Butler get it

Victor "Jeeves" Butler

I don’t know if Victor Butler is a difference maker, but he was clearly the best player on the field against Denver’s second team. He has shown flashes throughout his Cowboys career, and as far as I can tell, is held down only because of 5-6 good games from Spencer in 2009. I’m not saying I’m ready to replace Spencer with Butler, but I would love to see what Butler can do against a first team offense at some point in the preseason. I do believe that if Rob Ryan decides he wants more Butler, he won’t be told no just because Spencer was a 1st round pick and Butler was a 4th.

Banned from the Arboretum for staring lustfully

Kevin Ogletree will not make the final roster. Harris is still raw, but his speed makes him a potential difference maker as a slot receiver. Garrett specializes in using pre-snap motion in order to get players in space, and while Harris polishes his route running ability, he can contribute with plays like last night (Harris can also be a major factor when Romo decides to improvise). The 4th receiver on any roster must be able to make an impact on special teams, and Ogletree can’t. This is another case where Garrett and Jones need to think of themselves as a 6-10 team that has an opportunity to favor youth and upside over a decent player who has hit his ceiling. Even if Dallas wants to think of itself as a Super Bowl caliber team, cutting Ogletree will likely not be the difference in a playoff game.

On the Hot Seat: Holland is sitting in a Dutch Oven

I liked the starting offensive line last night, and noticed no real difference between what Arkin brought to the table at left guard and what Holland brings at right guard. This is another opportunity for the Cowboys to develop Arkin by starting him. It’s not as though Holland will be missed at guard. At least Arkin is someone who could have a future here, whereas Holland continues to grow older and more injury prone. For that matter, the Cowboys better be ready for Costa to play significant time at center. Gurode is expected to return soon, but a 32 year old offensive lineman less than two months off of arthroscopic knee surgery is a recipe for disaster. Will he trust his knee? Will he be able to generate the same power from his legs? This is a case where I’d rather have a healthy Gurode than the young Costa, but I’m not betting that Andre will make it through a 16 game season.

Back that Thing Up

Does this team still need Jon Kitna? Has McGee shown enough that the Cowboys can save themselves $2.6 million by jettisoning a 39 year old back up quarterback who can only get the ball to his tight ends and running backs? Isn’t Dallas better served having McGee get the 2nd team reps and continuing to develop him? I like what Kitna did for this team last year, now that Garrett is in charge, Kitna’s leadership is not as vital to the offense as it was last year.

Ta-Shardly had a Chance (thought I’d go different way there, didn’t you)

Jason Garrett clearly does not believe in Tashard Choice. I have no idea why, but the fact that Dallas took Murray in the third round when they had so many other holes to fill tells us all we need to know. I’d have been happy with a RB rotation of Felix, Choice, and Miller, but if Choice is cut/traded, then the team is left with two injury prone players (Murrary and Jones), and a very young and unproven Lonyae Miller (or Phillip Tanner, based on last night’s game). I think the team would be crazy to get rid of Choice, but it feels inevitable at this point.

A good start for the Ginger-Bred Man

The bottom line is this: the more I look back on last night’s game and reflect on this team, the more I see them as a 6-10 team that should be favoring youth at every position. I think they can be competitive with Bailey instead of Buehler, Arkin instead of Holland, Harris over Olgetree, McGee as the back up, and so on. Perhaps the most exciting thing about these 2011 Cowboys  is the general vibe that now surrounds the entire organization. It feels like this team has finally been humbled, and for the first time in years, there seems to be no sense of entitlement or unearned arrogance. This feels more like a team than a collection of talented individuals, and Garrett has brought a much more organized and purposeful feel to practices and games. Despite being the first preseason game, penalties were kept to a minimum. I love what Rob Ryan brings to this team, and I love the fact that Garrett wanted him despite their incredibly different personalities. Watching Garrett laugh and playfully slap McGee around at the end of last night’s game spoke volumes to me about his ability to relate to players while still maintaining his authority. I still worry about Garrett as both head coach and offensive coordinator, but the guy did go to Princeton, after all.

It has been a while since the Cowboys entered a season flying under the radar. I’m not sure if they have built a playoff team, but I am confident that this team won’t embarrass its fans the way they often did last year.


Jonesing for a GM

Keeping himself busy

August is supposed to be a time of excitement and anticipation for the upcoming NFL season. But as Cowboy fans watch their beloved team stand pat for the second straight NFL off-season, the frustration, and, perhaps more disconcerting, the hopelessness is starting to set in. Here stands a 6-10 team that has subtracted at least four starters. I say “subtracted” instead of “replaced”, because the jury is still out on exactly who will step up and take over these positions. To be fair, all four subtractions were justifiable. Replacing Colombo with Smith at right tackle has to be considered an upgrade, even as Smith struggles at first to learn the NFL. Replacing Barber with oft-injured rookie DeMarco Murray is at worst a push, especially with Felix and Choice mixed in. The real problems lie in the fact that Holland is now the starting right guard, and Ogletree is now the third wide receiver. Currently starting at safety: Alan Ball(?), the man who helped the 2010 Cowboys set franchise records for defensive futility, and a group of guys who couldn’t beat out Gerald Sensabaugh last year. Do we really trust Kyle Kosier to stay healthy for an entire season? Is a 33 year old Andre Gurode going to be able to bounce back from his knee surgery in June and play well? What if Dez gets hurt again, as he has shown a propensity to do?

How could the Cowboys possibly be so dormant in an off season filled with free agents that could help the club? What was Jerry doing while other teams were plugging holes and improving their teams?

Cowboy fans know that Jones loves to make the big splash. This year, the only guy able to cannonball free agency was Nnamdi Asomugha, and by all accounts, Dallas was in on him until the end. Asomugha eventually signed with Philadelphia for 5 years at $60 million, a price that proved too steep for Jerry. Fine. This team has so many holes that using all available cap space on one corner was probably a foolish idea to begin with. The real problem is that Jones allowed Asomugha to hold the Cowboys hostage, while other teams were making savvy moves. By fixating on Nnamdi, Jones guaranteed that he would miss out on many other useful players, because he had to keep that money available just in case they could sign the former Raiders corner. Every free agent contract took money away from the Nnamdi offer, and Jones appeared fine with waiting to see what Asomugha would do before seriously considering signing anyone else.

Now, Nnamdi is an Eagle. Dawan Landry is a Jaguar. Michael Huff is a Raider. Jonathan Joseph is a Texan. Eric Weddle is a Charger. The Cowboys were left so far in the lurch that they had to panic and re-sign Marcus Spears to a big deal because they lost Stephen Bowen. This 6-10 team has done nothing but bring the same players back, promote back-ups, and put all their faith in a new defensive scheme brought by an admittedly creative football guy, though we’ve seen that his scheme cannot overcome a severe lack of talent (Cleveland, Oakland).

Maybe Jones simply does not have the finances to sign free agents right now because of that monstrosity sitting in the heart of Arlington. Maybe he just got caught fixating on the big name and missed out on several chances to better his team in areas of need. Maybe he truly believes that the Cowboys can compete for a Super Bowl with Holland, Gurode, and Kosier up front, Ogletree in the slot, Kenyon Coleman and Marcus Spears trying to stop the run, a 33 year old injury-prone Newman starting at corner, and Barry Church/Akwasi Owusu-Ansah starting at safety. Maybe Keith Brooking and Bradie James will discover that the Riverwalk in San Antonio is actually the fountain of youth. One of these things has to be true, right? Which one is most comforting to you?

The path that this team is currently on leads to 8-8 at best, which means Jones is wasting another year of Tony Romo’s prime. At this point, it appears Cowboys fans will be subjected to watching Philadelphia dominate the NFC East. It is only August, and the season already feels like it is slowly slipping away. It is time to stop defending Jerry Jones. He does not want to win at all cost. He is now officially closer to being Tom Hicks than he is to Mark Cuban or Nolan Ryan.

But hey, that video board is pretty cool, right?

Ode to a Champion

It’s hard to encapsulate the moment. As I dragged my wife out to Dick’s Sporting Goods last night to stand in line for almost an hour, I saw plenty of recently purchased Mavericks playoff gear worn by people waiting to get into the store and claim the champion’s spoils of victory. I am not here to criticize those who showed up late to the 2010-2011 Mavericks party, and, in the interest of full disclosure, I have had my reservations about buying back in after 2006. That season (fairly or unfairly) left me questioning the integrity of the NBA more than the ability or heart of the Mavericks, but the 2007 season cut just as deeply, culminating in an awkward, horrifying ceremony in which Dirk was presented the league MVP trophy, then sat and answered for his team becoming the first 1 seed to lose to an 8 seed in a 7 game playoff format. Humiliation. Disappointment. Underachievement. Heartbreak. The Mavericks became an abusive sports spouse; you kept giving them your heart, only to have them hurt you all over again. Come on, baby. We’ve changed. Things will be different this time. Give us one more chance. So we did. 2006. Game 3 in Miami. The lost 13 point 4th quarter lead, followed by three straight defeats and the horror of having to endure a visiting team celebrate a title in our house. Setting a franchise record for wins, only to be bounced in the 1st round by Golden State. Then New Orleans in 2008. Denver in 2009. San Antonio in 2010, despite entering the playoffs as the 2nd seed in the West. Then, in round 1 of this post season, coughing up a 23 point lead in the fourth quarter against Portland. Still, many of us kept coming back, only to have our hearts shattered over and over again. It has not been an easy ride, and it is hard to criticize anyone who decided to sell due to a lack of return on their emotional investment. Besides, the great thing about sports teams is that they are always there, ready to be embraced once again by the city they represent. Jumping on the bandwagon when your team is good means that you have a wonderful excuse to party. It provides the opportunity for all of us to take pride in our city, and it means getting all of the perks of winning without having to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”.

Like I said, I have not come to bury those who only started paying attention after the Lakers sweep. It’s our city, and positive attention for our teams and our town is always a good thing; the more the merrier. But if, on Sunday night, you found yourself moved–truly, emotionally moved, when you saw Dirk hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy; if you were in shock, and found yourself unable to speak as the seconds ticked away and the celebration began; if, despite anticipating this moment all day, you found yourself taken aback in a way you hadn’t expected; if your faith in justice and a higher power was restored after game 6; if instead of hysteria, you found something more like a quiet inner peace in the depths of your soul, it’s because you were there 5 years ago, on June 20th, and because you died with this team in 2006.

To all of those “living dead” Mavericks fans, wandering aimlessly for the last 5 years in the vast wasteland of the NBA landscape: welcome to resurrection Sunday.

They overcame adversity in Portland. They swept and embarrassed the 2 time defending champions, and in the process put arguably the greatest coach in NBA history out to pasture. They faced a younger, faster team on the rise in an arena that rivaled some of the loudest buildings in the league. Meanwhile, out east, the Empire continued their construction of the Death Star. The collision was imminent. We all knew how it would end–how it must end. It had to be Miami. It had to be Dywane Wade. Add in a self-appointed “King” in LeBron James, and the self-hating Dallasite Chris Bosh–who freely admits cheering for the Spurs as a child despite growing up in the Metroplex because the Mavericks weren’t very good–and the stage was set. Not for elation. Not for celebration. For redemption. The sports gods rewarded Dallas with the chance to play the Heat, and Dirk and company rose to the occasion. Nowitzki became the leader, and more importantly, the closer we’ve always needed him to be. And in the single most important game in franchise history, (and considering the opponent, maybe one of the bigger games in NBA history) when Dirk simply couldn’t find his rhythm, in swoops Jason Terry–the only other surviving member of the wreck of 2006. Redemption. There is no question that JET felt like he owed Dallas the game of his life after 5 years of disappointment, and he expertly delivered in cold-blooded fashion. Not many players have the stones to use their bicep as a de facto vision board. For better or worse, there’s only one Jason Terry. Foolish? Arrogant? Over-confident? Delusional? Maybe those are the words you would’ve used before Sunday night. Now, the word you’re looking for is “champion”.

As it was written, so shall it be

Give Me That Old Time Religion

But there was a moment in game 6 where it seemed as though the NBA’s desire for a seventh game might steal the Mavericks’ trophy again (after all, the series produced record ratings. Imagine the numbers for a game 7). Or maybe it was the fact that the officials repeatedly fell for Miami’s act, as Chalmers and Wade took turns lowering their heads, running into the lane and falling down. Again and again, Heat players dragged themselves to the line, shooting 33 free throws compared to just 18 for the Mavericks. The collective gasp throughout North Texas was almost audible, as the entire city of Dallas began experiencing symptoms of sports-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not again. Not like this. Please just give us a chance to earn it this time. Dirk in early foul trouble. Chandler in foul trouble. For a moment, the demons of 2006 stirred the nerves of Maverick fans everywhere. But then, when all seemed lost and hope started to flicker, the sports gods intervened. By night’s end, Miami, a team that had made 75% of its free throws during the regular and post-season, shot a paltry 60% from the line. 20 of 33. There was only one explanation, and even the Heat players knew it to be true. Remember that at the end of game 4, Wade stood at the line with the chance to tie the game at 82 with 29.4 seconds left. The ball left his hand, grazed iron, swirled once, twice around the rim, and inexplicably popped out. When asked about that free throw attempt in the post game press conference, Wade lamented, “I can’t shoot the free throw any better than I did. It went in and came out. The basketball gods didn’t want it to go in.” (In literature, this is known as foreshadowing). When the NBA, the officials, and the flopping Heat looked like they were up to their old tricks, the sports gods intervened. As a result, the game 6 parade to the free throw line will be the only one held in Miami this summer.

Hyperbole, you say? Perhaps. Has this series, this championship run, this stunning victory of good over evil, humility over pride, and team over individuals proven the existence of the sports gods, or karma, or some form of higher power? I don’t know if I believe in all that. I do know this: I believe in Dirk. I believe in Jason Terry. I believe in Jason Kidd, and Shawn Marion, and Rick Carlisle. This is more than just a good team. They are coffee drinkers. They are revolutionaries; brave men who rose up and united as one to overthrow a pretender to the throne. They are demon killers. Heroes. They united an entire city of more than 2.5 million people  into one cohesive and close knit community, inspiring kinship amongst a diverse population in a way that no religion has ever been able to do.

Rise of the Ubermensch

Watching the final seconds tick off the clock, I wanted only to see Dirk’s reaction. How would this man, once so crushed by playoff disappointment that he spent an entire summer wandering the Australian Outback, respond to this moment, on this court, in this city, against this team, and the one single player that has haunted his career? To everyone’s surprise, all we really saw of Nowitzki was the back of his jersey as he clumsily scaled the scorer’s table and bolted for the locker room before the final buzzer sounded. Why did Dirk leave when there were still seconds on the clock? Why not fling the ball in the air, stand center court and pound your chest in defiant celebration? This is the singular moment where your world of critics, most notably the one wearing #3 on the opposing team, is forever silenced. This is one of the greatest “I told you so” opportunities any human being will ever have, on an international stage and with the world watching. Why head to the locker room for a time of quiet self-reflection? Because this was never about revenge. It was never about proving the critics wrong; to hell with them. This was about redemption. After 5 straight years of playoff disappointments, he needed to know if he could become a champion. Mission accomplished. Be grateful, Dallas, that our champion has no use for sneaker commercials. Our champion is not interested in becoming a global icon. He does not pout, or lash out, or engage in petty taunts. While others talk, he works with his personal shooting coach in an empty gym. In 2006, Dwyane Wade proved that he is the man. In 2011, Dirk became the Ubermensch. Let Nietzsche’s prophecy be fulfilled: “I teach you the Superman. Man is something that shall be overcome.”

The Superman

It is why we watch. It is why we submit ourselves to seemingly infinite heartbreak, as we are painfully reminded year after year that the odds of our team being the one left standing are microscopic. It rarely happens. Some had never seen it. But the moment is here now. Some call it trite. I call it powerful, and submit as evidence the wave of complete strangers of all race, sex and creed embracing one another, waving to each other in the streets, connecting over something tangible, experiential, physical, and, dare I say, spiritual (and that’s just in Cleveland). I see a parable (let LeBron be his juxtaposition); the story of a man who worked his ass off to earn what he wanted, who faced potentially devastating adversity and did not quit, who had the opportunity to take the easy way out, yet remained loyal to his team, to the city that adopted him as one of their own, and to the man who showed absolute, unwavering faith in him. I see fathers and sons learning a common language through which they can communicate, building a bridge between generations that will become part of their family legacy. In this house, we root for the Mavericks. And we will always remember where we were on this night. We often complain that athletes are overpaid. Tonight I find myself wondering if Dirk is paid enough. For the intense joy ignited in our hearts on Sunday night that continues to burn brightly; for the life lessons you taught us about character, grit, loyalty, and determination; for giving us a reason to be proud of our city, our home; and for giving us a moment that we will cherish for the rest of our lives, we can only say thank you to the 2010-2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks.

The nightmare is over. The demons are exorcised. The “My Little Pony” logo is dead.

Goodbye, critics. Take Dat Witchu.

Gold is the new pink.

Go ahead. Sing along, Dallas. You’ve earned it.

The Dallas Mavericks have reasserted themselves as the favorite to win the series.

The Larry O'Brien Trophy Tattoo, done in October of 2010

That’s not what most commentators would have you believe. Despite Dirk’s defiant demonstration of determination and dominance, most would have you believe that all the Mavericks accomplished on Thursday was to “make the series interesting”. Perhaps they planted seeds of doubt in Miami minds, or made LeBron “more aware” of how difficult getting his first championship will be. But few will come out and admit the truth: because the Mavericks stole home court by winning in Miami, they are now the favorites. They are the only team in the playoffs to accomplish this feat, ending a 10 game-home winning streak by the Heat. All the Mavs need to do now is protect home court, and they can celebrate their first NBA championship and make Jason Terry look like a genius (admittedly no easy task).

How can I be so confident? Am I nothing more than a blatant Mavericks homer? Why am I asking myself questions? Consider the following:


The Eastern Conference had a total of 9 teams with losing records in the 2010-2011 season. The Western Conference had 6. Memphis, the 8 seed in the West, would have been the 5th seed in the East. Indiana, the East’s final playoff team, would’ve finished behind Houston, Phoenix, and Utah in the West and ended up the 12th best team in the conference. As a conference, the East had a collective record of 579-651, or a .471 win percentage, which represents the worst overall record for a conference since the beginning of the six division era (2004-2005).
If that isn’t enough, consider the fact that the 2010-2011 Southwest division (where the Mavericks play) boasted a .617 winning percentage, good for the 3rd best winning percentage by a division in NBA history. All five teams finished at least 4 games over .500; if Houston (the last place team in the division) were in the East, they would have slotted as the 6th playoff seed.
Of course, none of this really seems to matter now, and my point is not to show that the Mavericks will suddenly blow the doors off Miami from here on out. But given the level of competition the Mavericks have faced all season, it is logical to assume that they deserve to be considered at least equal to Miami, and now that they have home court advantage, by definition become the favorite to win the series.

The Heat continue to get the credit for slowing down the Mavericks’ offense this series. The Mavericks shot 37% in game 1, but 46% in game 2. Everyone was quick to credit the Heat for putting LeBron on Terry, which admittedly surprised the Mavericks. While no one questions James’ defensive prowess, consider Terry’s last 3 shooting performances against Oklahoma City:
Game 3: 3-12 (25%)
Game 4: 7-19 (37%)
Game 5: 3-9 (33%)
To me, Terry’s struggles in this series are much more about JET being a streaky shooter than LeBron’s defense. There is no guarantee that Terry will find his shot by Sunday, but it may mean that the Mavericks are not simply at the mercy of the Heat’s suffocating defense (though I’m not sure the same could be said of Peja, who looks old and slow against the youth and speed of Miami). Dirk is missing open shots, fadeaways, and lay ups. I’m willing to bet that doesn’t continue. Kidd had as many turnovers as assists Thursday night, and still the Mavericks won on the road. In the last seven minutes of game 2, we finally saw the Mavericks team that silenced the Rose Garden, swept the two time defending champs, and bounced the Thunder in 5 games. They made shots. They played stellar defense, as Kidd repeatedly denied Wade the ball where he wanted it and Marion cut James off from the lane. Now they have their confidence back. They have their playoff momentum back. They have home court.

In the NBA, you have to suffer before you can win. LeBron never took responsibility for his playoff failures in Cleveland, choosing instead to insinuate that his team, his GM, and/or his coach kept getting in his way. He has never felt the full force of failure, because he has never accepted responsibility for his failures. Now, it’s on him. And he’s arrogant enough to think that he and Wade can do it alone. He expects to win titles for the next 7 years. Sure, he wants to win. But the Mavericks know that they need to win. Now. Dirk, Peja, Marion, and Kidd have all had their hearts broken in title runs. They are all closer to the end than the beginning. That experience helped them keep their composure through an array of earth-shattering dunks and primal screams. A young team assumes that if you dunk enough, loud enough, the other team gets discouraged and gives up. That’s what James does, after all (see the 2010 BOS vs. CLE series), so it makes sense that he thought the Mavericks would fold as he did. But experience beats youth in the NBA, especially when that experienced team is rested and has a significant coaching advantage. Experienced teams know that a dunk is still just 2 points, and that young teams fold under pressure. The pressure is now squarely on Miami. For 7 1/2 quarters, the Mavericks seemed to lack confidence. They have it back now.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Dirk Nowitzki stood tall, knowing that he had once again willed his team to an improbable victory thanks to tireless work in the gym with his personal shooting coach, and despite a torn tendon in the middle finger of his left hand (the same hand he used to lay in the game winning shot after embarrassing Bosh). And where was Dwayne Wade? Lying on the court, pretending that he got hit in the face and gesturing at the official as though he deserved free throws. He and James had preened, posed, danced, bitched, and beat their chests throughout the game. But as the clock hit zero, all Wade could do was complain.

There are no guarantees in sports. The good guys don’t always win. But what we’ve seen so far is a Maverick team playing nowhere near their full potential, yet managing to steal home court advantage. I think that when they come home, Dirk will truly find his comfort zone. Terry will find the basket friendlier. Calls will go their way, just as they did for the Heat in Miami. The Dallas Mavericks are not at the mercy of The Miami Heat. They are the favorites to win the NBA championship.