LeBron James' comments about the NBA Mount Rushmore got us thinking on a local level, and so for this NBA Theme Day, the SB Nation NBA blogs around the league are contributing the four people who best impacted their franchise.
Let's take a look at a potential Dallas Mavericks' Mount Rushmore -- and yes, of course we're going to call it Mount Mavsmore.
The first face
The first face is a no-brainer, of course, as it will belong to the great Dirk Nowitzki. From the draft day trade that brought the "Big German" to Big D, he's been everything that the Mavericks could have hoped for -- from his MVP in 2007, to being an NBA All-Star and All-NBA team member twelve times, to being the Mavs all-time leading scorer as he's nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career. Oh, and let's not forget when he led the Mavs to their first and only championship during the 2011 season. Dirk has and will always be the face of the Mavericks. With his number 41 already guaranteed to be hanging in the AAC and a statue of his patented one-legged fade-away a possibility, there's zero doubt that Dirk's head belongs on our Mount Mavsmore.
Sadly, we can't have a statue with just four Dirk faces. Three to go.
The second face
The next head belong to the Maverick who makes the most noise. That, of course, is owner Mark Cuban. A Mavericks franchise that once lived in mediocrity would never be the same when the then-41-year-old Cuban purchased the team on Jan. 4, 2000. Cuban transformed a team that won 40 percent of their games during a 20-year stretch into a title contender and eventual champion.
Not everyone outside of Dallas loves Cuban's antics, but Mavs fan can be forever grateful for one of the best and smartest owners the NBA has ever seen.
Finding a third and fourth
As easy as it was to decide that Cuban and Nowitzki would be part of Mt. Mavsmore, the final two heads fall on the opposite end of the spectrum.
First of all, sorry to the Mavs fans who were hoping that Erick Dampier, James Singleton or Derek Fisher would be on there, they sadly didn't make the cut.
There's a host of players who have build strong Mavericks resumes to be awarded one of the two final spots. With many players and coaches influencing and changing this franchise, here's a quick look at possible candidates.
Rick Carlisle led the Mavericks to their one only title during the 2011 season. As frustrating as he sometimes may be to many fans ("Free Roddy B"), he always seemed to know what was best for this team. Whether it was having players like Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, and even Shawn Marion (prior to Caron Butler getting injured) coming off the bench or just being the tough-minded leader this team needed, Carlisle always seemed to be able to make the right moves. As much as we consider 2013 a failure, Carlisle deserves all the credit for helping a team that consisted of O.J Mayo and Darren Collison as the starting backcourt fight to a even record. With Carlisle at the helm, the Mavs have won 60.5 percent of their games during his five plus years with the team.
Rolando Blackman was drafted 9th overall by the Mavericks during the 1981 draft. During his 11 years on the Mavs, he was an All-Star four times and helped lead the Mavs to the playoffs six times. Blackman was the Mavs All-Time leading scorer with 16,643 points when he finished his career with Dallas. Blackman's number 22 jersey is one of only two numbers retired by the Mavs.
The other -- and first -- number retired by the Mavs happens to belong to guard Brad Davis. Some of us know him as the reason why Vince Carter wears number 25, over his usual number 15. Davis joined the expansion team Mavs during the 1980 season. During his 12 year Mavs career, Davis averaged 12.8 points and 7.6 assists before retiring during the 1992 season.
During the 1984 season the Mavs drafted Sam "Big Smooth" Perkins fourth overall. From 1984-1990, Perkins averaged 14.4 points and 8.0 rebounds. He was the first Mavericks to every record a 30-20game when he finished with 31 points and 20 rebounds against the Houston Rockets on December 12, 1985. The only other Maverick to have a 30-20 game, by the way, is that guy who shoots one-legged fadeaways. Surprised?
With the first overall pick in the 1981 draft, the Dallas Mavericks select forward Mark Aguirre. During his 8 year stint with the Mavs, Aguirre averaged 24.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Conflicts with Blackman, Harper, and other teammates and then coach Dick Motta led to Aguirre leaving for the Detroit Pistons. Those conflicts and a lack of playoff success has somewhat tarnished Aguirre's time with the Mavs.
Most of us know this next candidate as a piece to the best broadcast team any NBA team can ask for, but before joining the Mavs broadcast team, Derek Harper was a Maverick on the court. Harper, like many of the previous choices, was a high draft pick. The Mavs selected the defensive-minded guard 11th overall during the 1983 draft. Harper spent his first 10+ seasons with the Mavs before begin traded to the New York Knicks. He would return to the Mavs for one more season during the 1996-1997 season. Harper would average 14.4 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.8 steals during his 11+ years as a Maverick. Harper's number 12 is set to be retired during the season.
We can't forget about Nellie-Ball! The Mavericks named Don Nelson head coach for the 1997 season. Nelson always found a way to get his teams to put points up, even if it meant sacrificing defenses. With the trio of Steve Nash, Michael Finley, and Dirk, the Mavs were able to have four consecutive 50+ win seasons. The Mavs were never able to reach the finals during Nelson's 7+ seasons as a coach. Plus, it's hard to forgive Nellie for leading the 8th seed Golden State "We Believe" Warriors to the upset over the Mavericks.
Now to some more recent Mavs -- again, I'm sorry that I left out Devean George, Brendan Haywood, and Eddie Jones. Wait, no I'm not.
In the 1994 draft, the Mavs selected a pass-first, do-it-all point guard out of California second overall. The Mavs had high hopes for Jason Kidd and he didn't disappoint early on. As a rookie, Kidd led the league in triple doubles (4) and averaged 11.7 points, 7.7 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.9 steals a game during his Co-Rookie of the Year campaign alongside Grant Hill.
Kidd's first tenure would be known just for being part of the "Three-J's" (name given to trio of Jason Kidd, Jamal Mashburn, and Jim Jackson). Twenty-two games into his third season, the Mavs decided to part with Kidd, sending him to the Phoenix Suns for Michael Finley.
Thankfully that wasn't the end of Kidd's time with the Mavs.
The Mavs were able to pull off a blockbuster trade to bring back the savvy veteran in a move the Mavs felt would put the Mavs over the top. Kidd spent 4+ seasons with the Mavs during his second tenure. With much credit going to the acquisition of Tyson Chandler and the play of Nowtizki, it was easy to overlook the role Kidd played during the Mavs championship run.
His ability to hit big shots, get the ball to the right spots, and ability to play some great defense on Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant should never be forgotten, as the sacrifice of Devin Harris and draft picks paid off. Kidd's departure to New York didn't please Cuban, but there is no doubt that Kidd's number 2 will be retired.
One of the most frustrating players to ever don a Mavs uniform concludes this list. He goes by the name Jason "The JET" Terry. The JET was brought in during the summer of the 2004-2005 season. But it seemed for every bad shot the JET would take, he'd respond by hitting a big shot and celebrate in the only way Terry knew how, flying down the sidelines in JET fashion.
Terry averaged 17.7 points and 4.5 assists. During the 2008-2009 season, he won the NBA Sixth Man award while averring 15.8 points off the bench. It'll be any season now when we see that number 31 hanging.
Before declaring my final two heads to implant on Mount Mavsmore, I just want to include other notable Mavs who are deserving of consideration.
Shawn Marion, Michael Finley, Tyson Chandler (yes, even though he played just one year wit the Mavs), Steve Nash, Devin Harris, and the current voice of the Mavs, Mark Followill (thank you Ace Feltman for bringing him to my attention) all deserve rightful consideration and a mention.
Although I didn't go into detail on Followill, he may supplant one of my final two heads as the years progress.
Making the selections
For me, joining Cuban and Nowitzki on Mount Mavsmore have to be the brains behind that Mavs Championship team -- Rick Carlisle and Jason Kidd.
With Carlisle leading from the sidelines and Kidd on the court, the Mavs finally achieved what seemed unobtainable.
We Mavs fans will always remember 2011 as if it was just yesterday, so why not have Mount Mavsmore remind us of the greatest moment in Mavericks history?
With Nowitzki, Cuban, Kidd, and Carlisle's faces, we'll always remember that the Dallas Mavericks were champions.
Rami Michail is a contributing writer for the site. You can find him on twitter @RamiMichail. He's a full-time student at California State Fullerton, co-editor for TheSmokingCuban.com, and writer for Fansided.com, covering the Dallas Mavericks and NBA.