Dallas Mavericks

This story appears in the July 25, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.


IF IT SEEMED THE OLDEST, MOST INFIRM among the Mavericks drank from a fountain of youth on their way to snatching this year's NBA title from younger, quicker hands, well, they didn't. Oh, the Mavs found something, all right. But it wasn't a fountain as much as a fog. And they didn't drink the rejuvenating potion; they bathed in it.


From late April right through to their final championship-clinching victory over the Heat, a sextet of Mavs -- Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and Brian Cardinal -- made the 20-minute trek from American Airlines Center to a wellness facility in Plano, Texas, two times a week. The grizzled NBA vets, all of whom are 33 or older except for the 28-year-old Chandler, would head to an upstairs room that had all the warmth of a no-frills clinic. They would strip to their underwear and socks, don fleece gloves and, one at a time, step inside a six-foot-tall, padded blue-green silo that encased them up to their necks (or, in the case of the seven-footers, Nowitzki and Chandler, up to their chests). A large metal bin next to the silo would begin to whir, and smoky vapor would swirl out of the chamber, as if the players were being cooked in a cauldron.