That first night (a win over the Spurs). Who knew there would be only 14 more to follow that first season.
Drafting Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman and Jay Vincent in 1981, the base of what would become “The Model Franchise.”
That first run to the playoffs in 1984 producing Moody Madness in Game 5, the final game of that first round series resulting in the Mavericks first ever playoff series win. One of the two or three (hey, it’s my list) most memorable games (playoff or otherwise) in franchise history.
Dick Motta suddenly resigning after the 1987 playoff loss to Seattle. A short statement with no questions answered (to this day) about why.
James Donaldson denying James Worthy at the rim to force Game 7 of the 1988 Western Conference Finals. Reunion Arena, always loud (without any artificial enhancement), nearly had its roof blown off by the noise.
That moment in a game after a huge run when you knew the Isley Brothers “Shout” would play in the arena and PA announcer Kevin McCarthy would intone as only he could, “The Dallas Mavericks… AND THEIR FANS!”
The excitement surrounding the trades for Rodney McCray and Fat Lever in 1990, only to have it quickly fall apart because they couldn’t stay on the floor and neither could franchise cornerstone Roy Tarpley.
The 1990’s which led us a decade of despair, but forcing us to confront the whole range of emotions of being invested in a sports franchise. The highs and lows of the “Three J’s” The despair of the Quinn Buckner and Jim Cleamons eras. The return of Dick Motta which returned some fun to the team, and then, ultimately, the hiring of Don Nelson to return Mavericks to prominence.
Prominence established by a new trio. What Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn and Jason Kidd would never quite get done for the Mavericks, Michael Finley, Steve Nash, and some German kid name Dirk Nowitzki did.
Mark Cuban, having grown up with the franchise sitting in the last rows of Reunion Arena, steps up to buy the team, and in his own inimitable way, establishes himself as an owner running a franchise that like in the 80’s could be considered “The Model Franchise” for how business was conducted in the 00’s.
That moment when Calvin Booth hit the game winning shot in Utah in Game 5 of the first round in 2001, capping a rally from 2-0 down.
That 2003 playoff run that saw dramatic Game 7 wins over Portland and Sacramento before falling to the Spurs in six games. Dirk was injured in Game 3 of that series. Had he played, perhaps the Mavs would have won their first title that year. They certainly would have been favored vs. the Jason Kidd led Nets.
2006 and that first run to the Finals. The incredible feeling of the fly-by of Love Field when the team returned from Phoenix after making the Finals, and the utter despair of the Finals themselves, a series that never should have been lost.
2011. Nothing more needs to be said.
Since 2011, a slow decline that has now accelerated over the last two seasons, but like the 90’s, a hope that a return to prominence is not far away.
Without Don Carter, who passed away yesterday at age 84. NONE of the prior 500+ words of memories ever happen. Without Don Carter, Dallas would have been a lot less major league (Or World Class—the terminology the city likes to use).
Without Don Carter, I never get my favorite memory from the 2011 title run: Mark Cuban telling NBA Commissioner David Stern that when he awards the Larry O’Brien trophy, he will first present it to Don Carter. Seeing him in that championship T-Shirt and ever-present Stetson (no Championship baseball cap here) holding that trophy was perfection personified.
And yes, without Don Carter, I’d never have the chance to have a dream job as the radio voice of the Dallas Mavericks because that team never would have existed.
Thank you, Mr. C. RIP.