- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
As I’ve stated many times I am a diehard Mavericks fan. Growing up I didn’t have a television but I listened to every game on the radio. I stayed with them through the 92-93 season when they only won 11 games. Also the next season, when they only won 13 games, you could find me by the radio. Listening to every shot made and every basket missed.
I was by the channel when Jimmy Jackson, Jason Kidd, and Jamal Mashburn were the focal points of the Mavs. They were going to be the trio that would lead them to the Promised Land. Personally I had never experienced this with the Mavericks. I moved to the area after their Western Conference Playoff appearance against the Lakers in 1988. I had heard the stories but personally I never saw this success.
The 90’s was a time of gloom and doom for the Mavs. They were the laughing stock of the NBA. The Cowboys were in the process of winning 3 Super Bowls during that time. The Rangers were putting together some good seasons and even made the playoffs a couple times. Hockey had made its way to the Lone Star State and before the decade was over, the Stars would win a championship. So, as the Mavericks were struggling to win games, much less be relevant, people were starting to forget them. They were starting to question whether ownership cared. Even with Jason Kidd winning Co-Rookie of the Year (with Grant Hill) in the 94-95 season, people still doubted the commitment to the team.
In 2000, things began to change for the Mavericks. They had a new owner (Mark Cuban) and now had a different “Big 3” to guide them. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley the Mavericks made the playoffs again in 2001. They had an owner with lots of money and was willing to do what it took to try and win. He wasn’t afraid to gamble on certain players and try to surround his superstars with talent that he felt would help bring a championship. The Mavs had a great run through the 2000’s, making the Conference Finals in 2003 and making the NBA Finals in 2006. Although both these seasons ended in disappointment for the Mavericks, the fans had something to base their hope on. They had a reason to be optimistic. Cuban had shown that he was going to spend whatever he could to help this team win. We, as fans, all felt that it was only a matter of time before we saw Dirk hoist that trophy. After the 2006 Finals, though, they seemed to digress and couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. The critics came out and started talking about getting rid of Dirk. They said that this team could never win a championship with him as the super star. They needed another super star. Someone who would come in and take over the team, not only as a super star but as a leader. This, of course, all changed when Dirk showed not only Dallas, but the whole world that he was one of the best players to play the game when he led the Mavs to championship glory in the summer of 2011. He out played Kobe, Durant, Lebron, Wade, and Bosh that summer to prove he deserved to be listed as one of the best ever.
Something happened after that championship, though. Suddenly, ownership decided to not spend money. They had won the championship and seemed content to enjoy that for a while instead of retooling to defend it. Fans scratched their heads as Cuban allowed Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, and Caron Butler to walk away. They used the term “financial flexibility” when defending this decision. They wanted to be able to sign some big name free agents during the 2012 off season. Dwight Howard and Deron Williams were both slated to be free agents and both had said Dallas was a place they would love to play. Ownership wanted to have the room under the salary cap to be able to sign one, if not both, of these players and still keep Dirk. Fans didn’t quite understand but were willing to give them a free pass for the most part because they had just won the championship. It was obvious that they had done something right, even if we didn’t understand it all. After a condensed season because of the lockout and a first round sweep at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the offseason had so many promises. Dwight Howard had already told Orlando that he was going to stay with them at least one more season so his name was off the free agent market. However, Deron Williams was still available and he said he was going to stay with the Nets or come to Dallas. That was his only two options. He grew up in the DFW area so fans were optimistic. If worst came to worse, Steve Nash was available and we could bring him back if we needed to, right? This seemed to be the thinking behind Cuban and Donnie Nelson (the Mavs president and General Manager). After meeting with Williams, he decided to stay with the Nets. It was understandable too. The Nets could offer an extra year and $23 million dollars more than the Mavs. On to plan B right? The signing of Nash would have to do. Then reports came out that Nash had agreed to a sign-and-trade with the Lakers, thus taking him off the market. As all of this was happening, reports came out that Mavericks guard Jason Terry was signing a deal with the Celtics and Jason Kidd was going to leave to become a New York Knick. Suddenly, this great off season with all the financial flexibility has seen the Mavs lose out on all the big names available. Not only have they missed them but they lost their own free agents as well.
I sit here puzzled and wondering what happens from here. Are we going to see a Mavs team that doesn’t make the playoffs this year? Is this the year that we start rebuilding for the future? Do they make a trade for some big name and bring him in to help Dirk? I still think Cuban and Donnie have done enough good around here that I have decided I still trust them. I believe they have a plan and they know what they are doing. I am scratching my head at the moment and I don’t know what’s going to happen. We could see a blockbuster trade or we may see a roster pieced together with duct tape. For now, I’m going to hope and trust that this year will resemble the 2000’s and not the 90’s. It’s hard to fathom this team is one year removed from winning the championship, but then again maybe the hunger has been satisfied and the desire to win has been stilled. Either way, they better decide to find it in a hurry because there’s a certain baseball team in Arlington that’s capturing the hearts of Dallas and the rest of the country.
Greg Higgins is a sports enthusiast and has been all of his life. He loves playing and watching all kinds of sports. He is actively involved with the Paris Community Theatre, and he also serves on an Advisory Committee for PJC