DALLAS -- Tonight will be the 15th opening day for forward Shawn Marion when the Dallas Mavericks host the Atlanta Hawks at 7:30 at American Airlines Center.
But will it be his last opening day?
For Marion, opening day in his first NBA season in 1999 was just as special to him as season two, three, four, five, etc.
"All of them are exciting and all of them are new,'' Marion said after Wednesday's shoot around. "I think it's just a thrill and it''s just an excitment, because it's starting all over again.
"Everybody's got a clean slate and you've just got to go from the jump until the last man's standing.''
While having to be much wiser about the way he protects his body, execise and what to eat, Marion has fine-tuned some nuances about his game throughout the years.
"I can honestely say I probably don't dunk as much,'' Marion said. "But I've adpating to every situation Ive been in and every team I've been on, and I actually have done it for the better.
"I've been fortunate enough to be successful in a lot of different areas in this league and be able to change my style of play to accomodate every sitauation I've been in. My instincts were amazing when I came in anyway.''
As one of the Mavs' top defenders and rebounders, Marion has put those instincts to good use on a daily basis.
"I think I just know the game more, I've actually studied the game,'' he said. "I can tell situations before they even happen, what's about to happen, what's not about to happen.
"I've learned a lot of different angles right now. It's easy for me to get in certain positions on the floor because I don't have to put forth much effort in certain areas -- I can use my smartness and beat people to certain spots on the floor as well.''
Marion, 35, is in the final year of his contract with the Mavs. But he's not sure if this will be his final opening-day tonight.
"Only time will tell,'' Marion said. 'But right now I'm playing right now.
"That's all that matters. They go by so fast -- it's just like here and there.''
-- Dwain Price
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