The crooked pinkie finger on Shawn Marion's left hand has been dislocated so many times over so many years that "The Matrix" can't keep his story straight as to when it first went sideways or where it happened or even how it happened.
"When did I first mess this up?" the Dallas Mavericks' small forward asked himself after being asked the same question. "When I was little, maybe. I think when I was little. Yeah, when I was little, dislocated it. Maybe 9 or 10 [years old]. I probably was playing basketball or soccer or like kickball or something -- dodge ball. I don’t remember. I know I was playing some kind of sport with a ball. Football. It was football, playing catch."
Fast forward to the NBA, and Marion's left pinkie finger has countless times been snagged, dragged, jammed and jimmied so many times that the knuckle is permanently the size of a lopsided acorn, and over time, with each fresh knock, the finger continued to tick to the left like a slow-moving clock hand, only counter-clockwise.
"It's facing 10 o'clock," Marion said. "More like 11 o'clock."
Nah, definitely 10 o'clock.
When he holds up his hand, it looks like he's communicating by space alien hand signals. The pinkie was bent to its current state of grotesqueness earlier this season, but naturally, Marion can't remember exactly when or how it happened.
"Just got it hit," he said. "Next thing you know, I looked down, I was like, 'Damn.' You know what? I got hit last year, too, in a game, and it kind of hurt a little bit, but I still played through it; just taped it up. Then got hit again this year. It is what it is. I know it was at home, though because [Mavs owner Mark] Cuban noticed it, too. He said, 'Oh s---.' I’m not going to be a hand model. It’s OK."
It's funny how a Halloween trick finger can go virtually unnoticed day after day in the locker room. Only recently, with Marion smarting from bruised ribs and a sprained right wrist that evoked conversations of pain threshold, did his snapped pool cue of a pinkie finger suddenly become a prominent talking point.
Sitting at the locker next to Marion prior to Saturday's game at the Utah Jazz, second-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois took a quick glance at Marion's disturbing pinkie and, well, he didn't, you know, but he did wince.
"It's crazy," Beaubois said. "When I see it, I feel bad."
Marion, who recently took over as the Mavs' starting small forward after mostly coming off the bench for the first time in his career, said he has no plan to have the finger straightened out. Studying its odd angle as he repeatedly flipped his palm up and down, Marion figured why should he fix it?
He said it doesn't affect him when he goes to his left hand to dribble or float one of his running hooks that have been so money this season. He shrugged off the seemingly minute-to-minute potential of having it jerked to 9 o'clock, or worse, if it gets snagged on an opposing player's jersey or crunched by a renegade basketball.
"It doesn’t hurt; maybe if I bend it a certain way or something [it hurts]," Marion said as he bent and pulled and squished his pinkie as if made of rubber. "I got full rotation. The doctor’s like, 'What are you going to do?' You look at X-rays and it’s sticking off to the left, but at the same time I’ve got full rotation. What more do you want me to do?
"I’m good with it."