Each week, ESPNDallas.com will take a look at the Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate for the Dallas Mavericks, in order to see how the two are working hand in hand to improve one another.
The Dallas Mavericks released a parody video a few weeks back. In it, the Mavs' trio of Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons dress up like the old-school hip hop group Run DMC -- in this case, Dirk, Monta and Chandler -- and show off their rhyming skills.
The Texas Legends, meanwhile, are rolling to the beat of the "James Gang." That's Bernard James, Damion James and Mike James, who have powered the Mavs' D-League affiliate to a 2-0 start to the 2014-15 season.
Dallas fans are familiar with the work of Bernard and James, both of whom suited up for the big-league squad in recent years. But Damion James, the 24th overall pick of the 2010 draft by the Atlanta Hawks who has also played for the Nets and Spurs, is making the most of his first impression. James is averaged 14.5 points and 11.0 rebounds in the team’s first two games, including an 18-point, 14-rebound performance in the Legends’ recent victory against the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
Mike James, meanwhile, has been the stabilizing influence the Legends were hoping for when they acquired the veteran point guard. James, 39, is averaging 15.5 points and 5.5 assists for the Legends while on his quest for one more shot in the NBA.
Summer-league standout Eric Griffin has also shined, showing off his athleticism by scoring at least 20 points in both games this season. He’s also averaging 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals.
Mark your calendars
The Legends begin a four-game homestand Friday with a matchup against the Santa Cruz Warriors. They host the Austin Spurs at Dr. Pepper Arena on Saturday night. Both games start at 7 p.m. CT and can be seen live on the D-League's YouTube Channel.
Here is sales pitch from Donnie Nelson, president of basketball operations for the Mavs and co-owner of the Legends:
“[Fans] will see a high-octane caliber of basketball," Nelson said. "They will be able meet those players afterwards. It’s an opportunity to meet a young Dirk before he becomes untouchable and take pictures with them. It’s an extremely affordable mode of entertainment that is a three-ring circus. We’re blending basketball with Ringling Bros.
“You’ve got a bunch of cool stuff going on in the arena. Even if you’re not a rabid basketball, you’re going to have a great time, watch an incredible game of basketball, and meet all of the players afterwards."
But not least ...
Just as the James Gang was gaining steam, it appears that “the band” may be breaking up. Multiple sources confirmed that center Bernard James will sign a deal to play in China. While that is a loss for the Legends, it presents an opportunity for James to play against international competition and possibly earn a little more money.
The situation with James is the nature of the beast for a team like the Legends. As they perform well and have players perform well, they will find opportunities outside of the D-League.
With the Legends' next four games set in Frisco, Mavs swingman Ricky Ledo has been assigned to the team.