Old Mavs, new tricks

Jason Terry and other stars on the Dallas Mavericks used cryotherapy sessions to help their bodies recover during the NBA Playoffs and Finals. Michael Thad Carter for ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the July 25, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

IF IT SEEMED THE OLDEST, MOST INFIRM among the Mavericks drank from a fountain of youth on their way to snatching this year's NBA title from younger, quicker hands, well, they didn't. Oh, the Mavs found something, all right. But it wasn't a fountain as much as a fog. And they didn't drink the rejuvenating potion; they bathed in it.

From late April right through to their final championship-clinching victory over the Heat, a sextet of Mavs -- Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and Brian Cardinal -- made the 20-minute trek from American Airlines Center to a wellness facility in Plano, Texas, two times a week. The grizzled NBA vets, all of whom are 33 or older except for the 28-year-old Chandler, would head to an upstairs room that had all the warmth of a no-frills clinic. They would strip to their underwear and socks, don fleece gloves and, one at a time, step inside a six-foot-tall, padded blue-green silo that encased them up to their necks (or, in the case of the seven-footers, Nowitzki and Chandler, up to their chests). A large metal bin next to the silo would begin to whir, and smoky vapor would swirl out of the chamber, as if the players were being cooked in a cauldron.