Toughness has never exactly been Rodrigue Beaubois' calling card in his first three seasons.
After all, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle used to joke about needing a spatula to scrape the former 185-pounder off the practice floor. Just last April during a game at Chicago, Beaubois dislocated the ring finger on his left hand. When it happened, he dropped to the floor so fast and with such a yelp that everyone immediately feared a gruesome fracture like the one suffered by Delonte West that required surgery and pins and sidelined him for six weeks.
After about six minutes in the training room, Beaubois was back on the bench with his ring and middle fingers taped together. About six seconds later, he was back in the game and put together a special night that had everyone talking about this sudden showing of toughness as the playoffs loomed.
And then there was Dirk Nowitzki's interpretation of the scene that saw Beaubois drop to the floor as if hit by a sniper's bullet from the United Center rafters. Of course, it was Nowitzki who dominated the 2011 NBA Finals after tearing a tendon in the middle finger of his left hand.
"Oh man, he was yelling; I thought we were going to have to put him down, he was yelling so loud," Nowitzki said facetiously. "But he was all right. I looked over and his finger was just a little sideways."
So, what do guys do to get tougher? They get in the ring, right?
"Roddy B's been working out actually. He's been in the gym; I saw him just the other day. He's taking boxing classes," Cuban said during his 70-minute appearance Tuesday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Ben & Skin Show." "I told Roddy and the folks around him, I said he's got to learn to throw a punch and take a punch. So he's been taking some boxing classes, he's been working out, he's bigger, he's stronger. He's going to have a chance to compete, just like everybody."
This is a seriously heavy season approaching for the 24-year-old Beaubois. It his fourth season and the last on his contract. His eye-popping, "Free Roddy B" rookie season is all but forgotten. With a totally remade Mavs team that includes proven youth at both guard positions in Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, Beaubois must prove he has finally put his foot injury from the summer of 2010 in the rear-view mirror and that he is ready to take charge of his career.
Even Cuban, who once deemed Beaubois untouchable in terms of a trade, acknowledged that Beaubois' progression has been slow.
"He should be [farther along], but once he got hurt he didn't recover quite the way we had hoped," Cuban said. "But I think that's in the past now and so he'll have every opportunity. We'll find out. We're not going to pre-judge. He's going to get a chance to play and if he outplays O.J., he'll play instead of O.J. If he outplays Darren, he'll play instead of Darren. It's very Darwinian."
Beaubois needs a strong showing. Boxing probably isn't in his future.