The Chiefs knew from his past stops in Arizona and Houston that he would be someone others in the locker room would look and listen to in good times and bad. But they weren’t quite expecting Mathieu to come in and take over the way he has in Year 1. Coach Andy Reid called the phenomenon extraordinary.
“This organization was blessed to have Eric Berry … a great leader, tough, all those things,” Reid said. “Before that I was with Brian Dawkins. I’ve been lucky to be around some really good safeties. They’re all different in their own way but they’re all great football players with great instincts and good leaders. They lead a different way.
“This kid here, he’s a special kid. He’s not the biggest guy. You’re not looking at one of those huge safeties but, man, is he a good football player. He just gets it.”
The Lakers led 81-62 with 2:45 left in the third quarter when Davis took his tumble. They went on to win 117-87, extending their streak to six games and improving their overall record to 30-7.
“I thought they locked back in,” Lakers custom uniforms coach Frank Vogel said of how his team responded to one of its stars going down. “Got focused and finished the job.”
When players returned to the locker room after the final buzzer, Davis was in there waiting for them.
“He was great,” James said of the encounter. “His mood was great. As great as it can be with the fall that he took … I asked him if I could do anything for him, he said you got to win for me. That’s what our team is all about.”
Hiring Zidane back, an emergency measure at the time, turned out the be personalized jerseys the best thing they ever did, which they never truly expected. They had doubted that Zidane was up to much — surreal though it might sound, they still did and the president told people so on the morning that he won his third Champions League in a row — but boy, was he. When he was presented as Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane was asked what he would count as success. “Winning everything,” he said. As it turned out, he did. He won everything and did everything. In such a short space of time, it feels almost absurd now.
This week marked four years since Zidane took over at Real Madrid, which seems mad. Four years? Only? How can someone do so much in so little time? Win three Champions Leagues, one league title, walk out, walk back in, swallow four long, depressing months, risking getting burnt, legacy seemingly ruined, only to rebuild it again. And then only go and put together another, new team that’s ready to win again made up of pretty much the same old players, like some kind of revivalist.