By Lorenzo Tanos
Fourth-valuable NBA franchise – not bad at all for a team that’s been around “only” 32 years. That may sound like a long time, but the Dallas Mavericks are actually one of the newer teams in the NBA, and they’ve had their share of horrible seasons mixed with the really good ones, including one where they nearly broke the Philadelphia 76ers’ then-record for fewest wins in a season. We shall now look at the three-decade history of the Mavs through this week’s NBA Trivia installation.
James Garner, who played the titular character in the 1950s Western comedy series Maverick, was part of the Mavs’ ownership group back in 1980, when the team was preparing to make its NBA debut.
It took only four years for the Mavericks to reach the NBA Playoffs and achieve their first winning year in the league. With forwards Mark Aguirre and Jay Vincent and guards Rolando Blackman and Brad Davis leading the way, the Mavs went 43-39 in 1983-84, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semis.
Journeyman point guard (before and after the Mavs) Geoff Huston had the higher scoring average with the team, but had spent time as a New York Knicks reserve before being traded to Dallas. It was the Mavs’ starting off-guard Jim Spanarkel who actually led the way in terms of points per game, with a meager 14.4 ppg in 1980-81. That was as good as it got, however; with the Mavs drafting Rolando Blackman and Elston Turner in 1981, Spanarkel was demoted to the bench in 1981-82, and by 1983-84, the one-time Duke standout was barely seeing any playing time, seeing action in just seven games.
1987-88. Tarpley had an amazing year for a reserve, averaging 13.5 ppg and 11.8 rpg in just 28.5 minutes a game. It wasn’t long before the drugs took over; despite putting up even bigger numbers per game, he played a combined 69 games from 1988 to 1991, and following his reinstatement for the 1994-95 season, he was permanently banned for yet another drug violation. Such a pity – at the rate he was going, he could have been a Hall of Fame candidate, even with the injury problems he also suffered taken into account.
Lafayette (Fat) Lever was a consistent triple-double threat for the Nuggets despite his ironic 6’3”-170 build. (Fat, as it turned out, is diminutive for Lafayette and never pertained to physical dimensions in his case.) Unfortunately, his trade to the Mavericks in 1990 coincided with two things – first, a knee injury that cut short his career a few seasons later at age 33, second, the end of the Mavs’ first run as a Western Conference power.
You should’ve seen the Mavs after they won game number ten in April 1993 – they were celebrating as if they won the NBA Finals. Anyway, the “DallastMav-Nots”, as they were often called in 1992-93, were coached by Richie Adubato (2-27), who was then replaced in midseason by Gar Heard (9-44).
Sad but true. The Cowboys won 13 regular season games in 1992 and went on to win Super Bowl XXVII early in ’93. The Mavs, of course, went 11-71 in what nearly became the worst NBA season in history.
Ten. After a slow, erratic start to his NBA career, Steve Nash teamed up with Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley and Juwan Howard (for 27 games, that is) to lead the Mavericks to the Western Conference semifinals in 2001. They haven’t missed the Playoffs since.
One game. After debuting on October 28, 2003 at a game versus the Lakers, the Mavs’ silver alternate uniforms, a.k.a. the “Trash Bags”, were headed to the trash bin.
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