Shawn Marion tries to fill Mavs' leadership void

DALLAS – For the time being, Shawn Marion is the only man standing in the Mavs’ locker room who contributed to the 2011 title run.

A major responsibility comes with that status. Marion considers it his duty to hold his teammates to the franchise’s high standards.

“With the team we have with so many new guys, we need that initiative,” Marion said. “Everybody’s got to push each other a little bit more and challenge each other.”

Marion is at the front of the line, publicly challenging teammates and hammering the importance of accountability for the .500 Mavs.

This is something new for the Matrix, a 14-year veteran who has been a mind-my-own-business type of guy throughout his career. In Dallas, he hasn’t needed to be a vocal leader with teammates like Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki around.

“He’s taking it upon himself to be a leader and demonstrate what it takes to win,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He’s been very clear that he knows how to win and knows what it takes to be a winning team. He’s going to impose his will on guys along those lines, and I think it’s great.”

Unfortunately, Marion isn’t himself physically. He missed five games due to a sprained MCL in his left knee, and he’s struggled in two of three games since his return, grabbing only one rebound against Golden State. Not coincidentally, the Mavs are 1-2 in those games.

Marion understands that it’s not always going to be smooth or pretty for a team playing without its superstar and incorporating nine newcomers into the mix. Mistakes and missed shots are going to happen. However, hustle isn’t optional.

“What you can control is your effort,” Marion said. “When you know guys aren’t giving their effort and their energy as they should, especially as young as some of these guys are on the team … Everybody should be going hard every night. Now, you can go out and play hard and have a bad game, but your energy and effort can be there still.”