DALLAS – Bernard James didn’t return from his 10-week stint playing in China until Feb. 2.
Nine days later he found himself in the middle of a tough grind-it-out game, which the Dallas Mavericks won over the Utah Jazz, 87-82, Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
The Mavs signed James to a 10-day contract prior to Wednesday’s shootaround, then handed him a No. 55 jersey and tossed him in the game in the first quarter. James responded with nine points, three rebounds and three blocks in 22 minutes and was one of the catalysts who helped the Mavs enter the All-Star break on a positive note.
"The guy just got a plane from China a couple of days ago,’’ Carlisle said. "We were jumping through hoops trying to get his letter of clearance from FIBA and all that, and (he’s on the) other side of the world time differences.
"All that stuff came through basically with one minute before shootaround today. Without him I don’t know if we would have been able to pull it off.’’
James (6-10, 235) played the previous two seasons for the Mavs before they released him at the end of training camp. From there, James started playing for Yao Ming’s Shanghai Sharks before returning to the states last week.
"I couldn’t really make sense of it,’’ James said of his tenure in China. "I just kept my head up and wouldn’t feel sorry for myself.
"I knew there would be opportunities elsewhere and kept an open mind. Then, China came along.’’
And for China, along came the Mavs.
"That was a good situation playing for Yao Ming’s team,’’ James said. "I was able to get in there and play big minutes and get my rhythm back.
"I was able to get in a habit of what it felt like to be relied on again. I brought that back here and stepped up to the challenge for whatever my team needed form me. That is what I was able to do tonight.’’