Worst to First
Posted Apr 9 2003 3:11PM
The current incarnation of the Mavericks has been years in the making
SECAUCUS, N.J., April 9 -- For two consecutive seasons -- 1992-93 and 1993-94 -- the Dallas Mavericks were the worst team in basketball, compiling 11 wins one year and 13 the next, both times finishing last in the NBA. Ten years later, things have changed. Drastically. With three All-Stars in their starting lineup, the Mavericks have held the best record in the league since the 2003-03 season opened, and they are now tied with San Antonio for the No. 1 seed in the West. How did it happen? Take a look at some significant Mavs moments over the past decade.
March 4, 1993 • Jim Jackson Signed
Jackson's impact was not immediate; the Mavericks lost seven straight after he joined the team in what ultimately became a 19-game losing streak. But Dallas managed to win seven of its final 21 and finish 11-71, avoiding the '72-73 Sixers' worst-ever mark by two games.
June 29, 1994 • Jason Kidd Drafted
In his first season, Kidd led the league in triple-doubles with four and ranked among the NBA's top 10 with 7.7 assists per game, sharing Rookie of the Year honors with Detroit's Grant Hill. In turn, Jackson and Mashburn each averaged 19.2 points -- second only to Orlando's Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway as highest-scoring teammates -- and the Mavs improved their record to 36-46, 23 more wins than the previous year.
Feb. 11, 1996 • Kidd Starts NBA All-Star Game
Unfortunately, Kidd's individual success couldn't salvage Dallas's season. The team lost Jamal Mashburn for the year after a December knee injury, and although the Mavericks -- most notably, Jim Jackson, George McCloud and Kidd -- set single-season records for both three-point makes and attempts, Dallas finished the year just 26-56, tied with the Minnesota Timberwolves for 12th in the West.
Feb. 17, 1997 • Jim Jackson to Nets Completes Team Shakeup
Predictably, Dallas did not win many games, finishing just 24-58 on the year, but the trades resulted in two players who would be of vital importance to the team's future success; arriving from Phoenix in the Kidd deal, second-year guard Michael Finley, and from New Jersey in the Jackson deal, center Shawn Bradley.
Dec. 4, 1997 • Don Nelson Named Head Coach
Finley's 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game showed he was becoming a legitimate star, and though Shawn Bradley and, later, Cedric Ceballos (acquired from Phoenix in February) chipped in offensively, the Mavs won only 20 games in '97-98, finishing 10th in the West.
June 24, 1998 • Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash Acquired in Draft-Day Deals
But the Mavs weren't finished. They promptly traded Garrity's draft rights to Phoenix -- along with Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 first-round pick that would eventually become Shawn Marion -- for third-year guard Steve Nash. At that point, Nash had appeared in 141 career games, starting just 11.
Feb. 5, 1999 • Big Three Debut in Mavs' Starting Lineup
Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Bradley all started for Dallas (along with now-retired A.C. Green), and with Nowitzki playing only 16 minutes, the debut of the future All-Star threesome was forgettable; Nash, Finley and Nowitzki combined for 20 points (on 7-for-35 shooting), 14 assists and six rebounds. Cedric Ceballos actually led all Mavs scorers with 16 points off the bench.
Jan. 4, 2000 • Mark Cuban Buys Mavericks
Quite simply, the NBA had never seen an owner like Cuban. Sitting near the bench and arguing with referees, he drew criticism as a meddler, but he also spared no expense in providing luxury facilities, creating an organization that became increasingly attractive to both players and fans. On April 11, Cuban's purchase was approved by the NBA's Board of Governors, and meanwhile, the Mavericks finished the season 40-42, their best record since 1989-90.
April 21, 2001 • Dallas Returns to Postseason
In Game 1 of the playoffs on the road against fourth-seeded Utah, Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Nowitzki all scored at least 20 points, but the Mavs lost by just two to the veteran Jazz team. Dallas dropped Game 2 as well, but roared back from the deficit to win the next three and advance to the conference semifinals. There, overmatched by the San Antonio Spurs, the Mavs fell in five games, as Nowitzki scored a career-high 42 points in the finale.
Nov. 27, 2002 • Mavs Open Season 14-0
As the 2002-03 season opened, Dallas was simply unbeatable. Running its record to 14-0 with a Nov. 27 win over Detroit, the team came within one game of the all-time best start, held by both the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and the 1993-94 Houston Rockets. Now tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the league, the Mavericks could secure their first-ever No. 1 seed going into the postseason.