The Dallas Mavericks have this odd tendency to win lots and lots of
basketball games. Or at least the post-2000 Mavericks have such a
tendency. Before that, Dallas suffered a decade of basketball
incompetence, boasting win totals of 40 and 36 in their most successful
seasons. In the 90s, the Mavs won 30.3% of their games, had back-to-back Netsesque seasons in ’92-’93 (11 wins) and ’93-’94 (13 wins), and were an NBA laughing stock.
Then, two things happened:
- The Dallas Mavericks traded for Dirk Nowitzki on the night of the 1998 NBA Draft.
- On January 4th, 2000, Mark Cuban became the majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
Both are obviously very important to what happened next, though it’s hard to determine exactly how much impact one would have had without the other. Nowitzki is an all-time great, but how far does he get in this league without an owner and a head coach (pre-senility Don Nelson) who were supportive of what he could do rather than try to mold him into something that he wasn’t? On the flip side, how does the Mark Cuban regime fair without the stabilizing influence of one of the league’s top stars?
Both have been absolutely crucial to what has happened in Dallas over the last ten seasons, and both are, to this day, consistently undervalued.
This isn’t a call for awareness on behalf of Cuban and Nowitzki, though, just a call for recognition for what they’ve been able to accomplish. Those two are the undeniable constants throughout this decade of Maverick basketball, in which Dallas has not only made the playoffs every season, but won a whopping 50 games every time out. Only three other teams in history can claim that same level of consistent success.
One of those teams is the Celtics, who pulled of 10 consecutive 50-win seasons from 1958-1968. Another is the Lakers, who did so from 1979-1991. The third and final team is the Spurs, who have done so since 1999, and have a chance to extend their streak if they can win five of their last eight games. Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki. Think about that.
Half of their 50-win seasons are actually 57+ win seasons, with three of them topping 60. The Memphis Grizzlies, who were the Mavs’ opponent for their 50th win last night, have won 50 games just once in their 15-year history. Think about that.
The most obvious negative response to Dallas success will point out that for all of the Mavs’ success, they don’t have any championships to show for it. True. But Cuban has put together a team that has had enduring success and was considered a perennial contender. You can pick out years that were weaker for the Mavs than others (2004, 2008), but this is a team that was built to win games and did so at an alarming rate. There may not be a trophy in the Maverick office, but this is still a team that has experienced some incredible success over the last 10 years.
Even more impressive, though, is this: even after 10 years of excellence, 10 years of winning, and 10 years (well 12, really) of Nowitzkiness, the Mavs aren’t slowing down. They could very well be at this same mark next year, cruising into their 50th win with a few games to spare. That’s just how it goes in Dallas, and Mavs fans accustomed to an owner willing to go to any lengths to win and the greatest player to ever wear a Maverick uniform don’t know any other way.