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Three years removed from the first championship in franchise history, the Mavericks enter 2013-14 with an overhauled roster packed with productive veterans and explosive young talent. Though Mark Cuban publicly courted free agent superstars Dwight Howard and Chris Paul, Howard signed with the Houston Rockets and Paul re-signed with the LA Clippers. Instead, the Mavericks reloaded the roster with proven scorers Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon, an effective big man in Samuel Dalembert and rookies with huge potential in Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo. But it all starts with NBA all-timer Dirk Nowitzki. If the seven-foot scoring machine can stay healthy, the Mavericks can compete with anyone.
A Brief History
Founded in 1980 by businessmen Don Carter and Norm Sonju, the Dallas Mavericks were named for the iconic James Garner-starring TV show, Maverick. Spurned by their first-ever draft pick, UCLA star Kiki Vandeweghe (who went on to star with the Denver Nuggets, the Mavericks built their franchise around Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman, Jay Vincent and Mark Aguirre and within just a couple of years, the expansion team was a major player in the NBA. In 1984, the Mavericks earned their first post-season bid and took out the Supersonics before bowing out to the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers. Two years later, the Mavericks would advance all the way to the Conference Finals.
The 1990s were the dark ages for the Mavs. After making the playoffs in 1990, they wouldn’t get back to the post-season for eleven years despite the presence of Jason Kidd (Rookie of the Year in 1995) and Jim Jackson. In 2000, EVERYTHING changed in Dallas. Outspoken billionaire and one-time Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot sold the franchise to Mark Cuban. Brash, aggressive and brilliant, Cuban immediately set about changing the culture of the lowly Mavericks. Almost overnight, Dallas became THE place free agents wanted to sign. With a Big Three consisting of Michael Finley, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas soared back to contention, making the playoffs 12 straight years.
In 2005-06, the Mavericks fought their way through the Western Conference and earned the franchise’s first ever berth in the NBA Finals where they’d lose to the Dwayne Wade/Shaquille O’Neal-powered Miami Heat. Five seasons later, with Dirk Nowitzki playing lights-out basketball alongside Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, the Mavs would avenge the 2006 loss by defeating the favored Heat in a six-game series.
Ball Night in BIG D
After missing more than one third of the team’s games last season, Dirk Nowitzki is healthy again and ready to lead a rebuilt Dallas roster. Sure, he may be entering the twilight of his career, but when he was on the floor last year, Nowitzki was incredibly productive. Buoyed by a talent infusion, Dirk and the Mavericks should not be overlooked in 2013-14. Critics may lament the lack of big time defenders on this Mavericks team, but there’s no doubting their ability to score. With Nowitzki, Montae Ellis, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, the Mavs have firepower all over the court. Get out to the beautiful American Airlines Arena to watch the explosive Mavericks make a run for the post-season.