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The History of the Mavs: Part 2 - The Glory Days

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In Part 1, the early days of the franchise were mentioned as the Mavs had grown from a losing expansion team to a near playoff contender. Now, in Part 2, we  focus on the first couple of Mavs Playoff runs!

 

 

Before the days of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers made awful trade after awful trade as they often dealt high draft picks for washed up players. For the building Mavs, this was a perfect fit. Acquiring Cleveland’s 11th overall pick, the Mavs had two picks in the top 15 of the 1984 draft. With the 9th pick, they took a future All-Star in Dale Ellis. How do you one-up that? With the 11th pick, the Mavs took a bigger star in Derek Harper (now one of the Mavs’ postgame hosts). With the added firepower of Ellis and Harper to go along with the returning stars in Blackman, Aguirre, Vincent, and Davis, the Mavs stormed out of the gate, starting 13-4. As the Mavs continued to grow, Aguirre and Blackman started to display their star power potential as Aguirre scored a team record of 2,330 points in a season and Ro averaged 22.4 points.

 Finishing 43-39, the Mavs were good enough to earn the 4th seed in the Western Conference and a match-up with the Seattle SuperSonics. In this series, home court was huge. After splitting the first four games, the Mavs and Sonics returned to Dallas for the decisive Game 5 – the NBA still had best of 5’s in the first round. However, in the spring of 1984, Reunion Arena had booked a WCT event to take place on April 26, the night of Game 5. Since their home arena was booked, the Mavs had to move their game to SMU’s Moody Coliseum in a game that became known as "Moody Madness." Filling up the 9,007 seats in the Coliseum, the fans were treated to quite a show with the Mavs making one of the fastest comebacks in their history as they made up a six point deficit in the final 48 seconds. With the Sonics past them, the Mavs took on the vaunted Lakers, who thoroughly dominated the young Mavs at the Forum in Games in 1 and 2. Returning to a raucous Reunion Arena in Game 3, the Mavs, led by Ro’s 31 points, went on to defeat the Lakers by 10, setting up a crucial matchup in Game 4. As Game 4 played out, the teams stayed even throughout, with the score tied and Dallas having the ball with 6 seconds left. However, rookie guard Derek Harper, thinking the Mavs had the lead, mistakenly dribbled the clock out, sending the game into overtime. The Mavs went onto lose the game to the Lakers and then had their season end in Game 5 at the Forum. For his part, however, Harper remained very classy about his situation and ended up taking his share of the blame. Although their season was over, it seemed that the Mavs were ready to take the next step.

The 1984 draft is often known for the selection of Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan. The Mavs, having the 4th pick (again from Cleveland), just missed out on Jordan (who went third) and took a solid player in MJ’s North Carolina teammate, Sam Perkins. However, in taking Perkins, the Mavs passed on a couple of future stars in Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Imagine TNT’s Barkley being a former Mav and then ripping on his team night after night once he had retired: that certainly would have been funny to see. Anyways, while the team improved on paper, they struggled on the court, only improving by one game in the regular season. When the playoffs arrived, the Mavs were the 4 seed yet again, this time taking on the Portland Trail Blazers, led by Clyde Drexler. Although the Mavs won Game 1 in double overtime, they lost Game 2 in OT and were handily defeated in Games 3 and 4 in Portland, which ended their season. The next step would have to be taken in another season…

I also was able to find a couple of cool links from the time period that would be interesting to check out:

 Sports Illustrated article about the team in December of 1984.

And if you ever have a couple of hours, make sure and watch Game 4 of the Lakers-Mavs on YouTube!