With the 104-96 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, the Dallas Mavericks reached the 50-win plateau for the 11th straight season. "That's very impressive for a franchise to be able to do that,'' said Jason Kidd. "That just shows that the owner and management have something special here.'' The Mavericks are just the third franchise (since the NBA went to an 82-game schedule in 1967) to record at least 11 consecutive seasons with at least 50 wins (also the San Antonio Spurs from 1999-present, the Los Angeles Lakers from 1979-1991).
The thing that separates those clubs from the Mavs is the fact that those franchises have multiple championships to speak of during their successful regular seasons. Dallas remembers the painful memory in 2006 where they lost a 2-0 lead to the Miami Heat. To date, the appearance in the 2005-06 NBA Finals has been the only Finals appearance for the Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry are in the thick of the moment and cannot really revel in the success the Mavericks have accomplished during the regular season. "I’d rather trade it in for a championship," Nowitzki said on the latest regular season accomplishment. "Eleven 50-win seasons don’t mean anything. It shows we’re consistently good and we have a good team and we’ve played well in the regular season. Hopefully we’ll top it off in the next couple years and win a ring." Jason Terry echoed Nowitzki's sentiment. "Everyone knows that 50-wins don't get you a championship and that's our ultimate goal," Terry said.
Jason Kidd was originally drafted by the Mavericks but he's only been a part of three of the 11 50-win seasons. Kidd has seen a lot during his 16 seasons in the league and he has perspective on the situation. "You can't get spoiled as a fan," Kidd said. "That would be unfortunate because it's not guaranteed that you can win 50 games every year. It can turn the other way quickly." At this point, 50 wins in the regular season does not seem like an accomplishment, it feels like the just a typical season and that is a shame. Sure, they have had their shortcomings in the postseason but things could be worse, they could be like the team they saw on Thursday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves. A team that has only won 17 games during the season and has had no real sign of hope for a handful of seasons. They have won a total of 56 games over the last three seasons.
It can be hard to stop and smell the roses with the bar set high with the championship aspirations. The fact of the matter is that there will be 29 teams that will be disappointed. The only thing an organization can do is set up the pieces as best as they so they can put themselves in the best position possible to be successful and the Mavericks have done that over the years. Whether it was drafting Rodrigue Beaubois, trading Antoine Walker for Jason Terry, Devin Harris for Jason Kidd, the deal for the Washington guys or Erick Dampier for Tyson Chandler, there has been plenty to go off on in terms of hard work done by the front office in an attempt to put a championship contending product on the floor. The list can go on and on but at the end of the day, the greatest move has been maintaining an incredibly long run of consistency. Credit should be given to Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and Dirk Nowitzki as they have been the constants through the 11 years. Look at teams like Phoenix or New Orleans, they have had two or three good years of success but have not had the staying power to survive the long haul.
"It means you're a good team," Carlisle said when speaking of the consistency the Mavs have created. "Beyond that, I'm not sure what else it means. I know there's been a great record of consistency for a long time with a winning team and that's substantial. But, it's not just about being good. It's about being great, so that's what we're thriving for." The ring will be the ultimate goal, that is a given. The Mavericks will have their chance in the playoffs, where anything can happen. It may be difficult but there needs to be a strong sense of appreciation for what the Mavericks have done over the years. It could be worse, they could be the Mavericks of nearly 20 years ago with no hope.
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