Mavs Mount Rushmore of Shame
It’s that time of the year. Entering baseball’s dog days. Excitement building for football, but still seven weeks away before any meaningful NFL pad popping (six weeks for the college kids). And the winter sports are, well, winter sports and thus not really on the radar. It’s also that time of the year where we often (mostly through sports talk radio) start thinking about each particular sport’s Mount Rushmore. Who’s on that list of all time greats? Who should be immortalized in stone for their athletic accomplishments? Usually, this exercise involves picking the four best from a sport, or, more specifically, a team, but we’re going to flip this a bit. Indeed, let us ponder a local Mount Rushmore of Shame.
We’re not talking about enemy combatants here (Joe Theismann, Dwyane Wade, David Freese and Bryan Marchment need not apply). No, we’re talking about men who were supposed to be heroes on our home teams here in Dallas-Ft. Worth, and yet somehow manged to be incredibly disliked. And I will submit to you the reader that no local team can match what the Dallas Mavericks have experienced. Indeed, I think I can safely make the argument that the four most intensely disliked players in DFW history all have a Mavericks connection.
In chronological order:
There were more than a few who were thrilled when Dantley was acquired from Detroit for Mark Aguirre. Fans had tired of Aguirre’s constant soap opera with coaches Dick Motta and John MacLeod, especially after Aguirre pulled himself from game seven of the 1988 Western Conference Finals with a finger injury when the Mavericks were down two points with six minutes to play. But they never counted on Dantley, the undersized scoring machine, taking eight days to get to Dallas to join the team, and then even though averaging over twenty points a game following the trade, taking on such a sour attitude that it ultimately helped usher in the Mavs’ dark ages of the 90s.
Everyone loves versatility in the NBA. Here was a guy who could provide that for the Mavericks. Coming off his best all-around season in 2011 that included winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, the Mavericks acquired Odom from the Lakers as an answer to a roster that was allowed to split up following the championship. It should have worked. There was no reason for it NOT to work, except for the fact that Odom HATED being away from his beloved Lakers, and Los Angeles. He had the whole Kardashian thing going. He couldn’t get to practice on time even though he was living across the street from the American Airlines Center. And, finally, was fired by the team two weeks before the end of the regular season. A four-game sweep by Oklahoma City followed with three of those games being the type of games that Odom, at his best, could have easily affected.
Like the Odom trade, the Mavericks were swinging for the fences bringing in a four-time All-Star to help solidify a defensively porous point guard position. Solid assets Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder were sent away as was a future first round draft pick to bring in Rondo, whose reputation as the ultimate playoff “gamer” was thought to be the final piece to a long Mavs playoff run. They knew it would be a gamble as Rondo had the reputation of being difficult to deal with, and, like Odom, Rondo blew up in the Mavs’ face. From being unable or unwilling to push the ball the way Rick Carlisle wanted. To having a shouting match with Carlisle that resulted in a one game suspension. To his ultimate meltdown in game two in Houston, where he committed an eight second violation for not getting the ball into the front court in time, as well as picking up two fouls on James Harden in the first thirty-four seconds on the third quarter, that not only finished him for the night, but finished his time as a Maverick.
He will never have actually played a game as a Maverick, but his free agent 180 that took the Mavericks from ecstasy to agony in a period of five days will never be forgotten. Fans are upset that he changed his mind, but people change their minds on big decisions like this all the time. But fans will never get past the fact that Jordan never bothered to call owner Mark Cuban when he was deciding to go back to the Clippers, thus, for five days, preventing the Mavs from engaging in an alternate plan. Jordan was a lynchpin to the Mavericks post Dirk Nowitzki future. A future that was so bright is indeed now murkier than it’s been in the last 15 years. DFW is not a hating, booing sports town. There’s been no one more booed than Kiki Vandeweghe, but after awhile, the booing became kind of fun when the Nuggets would come to town. But it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a long time, if ever, that Mavs fans’ booing of DeAndre Jordan will ever be looked at as fun.
So, Cowboys, Rangers, Stars fans, have your teams ever produced players of such intense dislike? I think you’re going to be hard-pressed to match the Mavericks Mount Rushmore of Shame.