DALLAS --It's hard to miss Shawn Marion. He's a talker. If you hear nonstop chatter, chances are good Marion is in the vicinity.
So how did he slip so quietly into Dallas?
In the NBA's national scope, Marion's arrival with the Mavericks has been akin to the small print on the bottom of a marquee. At the top, in ginormous letters, would be "Ron Artest joins the Lakers." Or, "Richard Jefferson becomes a Spur."
Then, somewhere down below the Vince Carter to Orlando line, Marion's signing with the Mavericks would be noted.
It's not something that bugs the 6-7 swingman or his teammates. In fact, there are some serious upsides to flying below the radar.
But it seems like a bit of a slap at the team that perhaps acquired as much talent as anybody over the summer when you include Marion, Drew Gooden, Tim Thomas, Quinton Ross and Kris Humphries.
"The Mavericks as a group, we've never got the respect we deserved," Dirk Nowitzki says. "We got to use that as motivation. Shawn's using it as motivation. He looks great. Guys are kind of writing him off a little bit because he relies on his athleticism a lot, and they say he's over 30 and he might lose a step.
"But he looks great to me. He still plays above the rim, and on defense he's all over the place. I think he does all the intangibles that winning teams need."
Marion is a four-time All-Star. He was voted into that game most recently in 2007. He's 31 years old.
That compares favorably with Jefferson (29 years old, never an All-Star) and Artest (turns 30 next month, one All-Star appearance).
In fact, you can make the case that Marion is the best player in that group.
Yet, it's the Lakers and Spurs who seemed to create the most buzz during the off-season with their acquisitions.
"Who cares," Marion says. "You know what I'm saying? I respect those guys. The thing is, I don't get into that stuff.
"I'm trying to win me a championship. That's my goal. My goal is to go out and help my teammates as best I can, have fun and leave a legacy behind me in this city. All that's in the making. I'm taking the right steps."
Despite a sore calf that has interrupted his preseason, Marion already has shown the Mavericks what they want to see out of him. He's still got the skills that made him a beast all those years in Phoenix.
The last two seasons, he has been traded to Miami for Shaquille O'Neal and subsequently dealt to Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal.
At both places, he came to teams that were struggling.
"Every team I've left, they've been in a better situation than they were before I got there," he says. "I'm a basketball player, period."
At Miami and Toronto, Marion was thrown into teams that were transitioning. And while the last two seasons won't be on Marion's personal highlight reel, he still had times when he flashed that amazing skill set of his.
His pedigree suggests he's going to have every bit as much positive impact as the additions in San Antonio and LA.
"That's why we went after him instead of those guys," owner Mark Cuban says. "Guys with something to prove are always good to have. He's on a team that's more suitable to his taste.
"He'll help our team more than those other guys will help their teams. His numbers won't be up, because he doesn't have to do everything here."
And as for the lack of attention Marion's sign-and-trade mustered, Cuban says: "That's just the nature of the beast. With what 1/8the Spurs 3/8 have accomplished, because they've won so many championships, they get the benefit of the doubt. If we'd won last year, we'd get that benefit."
Still, as often happens when you are chasing the Spurs and Lakers, the Mavericks will have to wait to make waves in the Western Conference. Nobody's expecting them to do so.
"All the stuff about lack of respect and who's getting the buzz and who isn't is insignificant," coach Rick Carlisle says. "I like our team. ... Our thing is we're not where we want to be yet. But we've begun the process, and we're going to stick with it."
And as far as they're concerned, Marion is exactly the big splash they needed to make, even if nobody else wants to jump on board.
"More than anything, we got to use that as motivation," Nowitzki says. "Be underdogs and hopefully make some noise."
If you happen to bump into Shawn Marion at the supermarket, the one question you should never ask him is about his jump shot.
"He's heard it so many times, he's tired of it," says longtime friend Jason Kidd.
Marion's jumper is a little different. That's not a knock. It goes in at a great percentage rate. It's just that he doesn't have the classic release and follow through.
"Look, a lot of people think Jim Furyk has an unusual golf swing, but he's won a major championship," coach Rick Carlisle said of the 2003 U.S. Open winner. "Appearances can be deceptive. And I'm a believer in art over science in basketball.
"If you want to nitpick, you can talk about how his shot is different looking. But the bottom line is the guy is one hell of a player."
Marion doesn't like having to justify his stroke.
"Nobody in the league shoots the same way," he says. "What difference does it make? What about steals, rebounding? I led the league in rebounding one year at 6-7. As far as my shot, who cares?"
He has made 670 career 3-pointers and is a 48 percent shooter overall. Clearly, he's doing something right.