The Internet is an odd place. It represents a gathering place for all walks of life. It’s impacted change globally for both better and worse. Perhaps, though, the most important contribution that the Internet has lent society is its ability to record and catalog the past in ways that were once never possible. For example, you might be aware that the original Space Jam website is still online and is accessible. As is the campaign website for Bob Dole and Jack Kemp from 1996. The fact that they are still around is remarkable. In many ways, the Internet is destroying the notion of ephemerality.
Here at Mavs Moneyball, we’re also subject to the historical record of the web. You can search the site for past articles and posts. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But I was recently poking around online and found something incredible. I stumbled across some tweets from the Moneyball of yore. Now, the articles to which these tweets originally belonged have long since vanished and the authors may never be known, but they offer a glimpse at Mavs fandom throughout the years and the similarities to today are fascinating.
However, some of these headlines leave us scratching our heads. Hindsight is 20/20, sure. But some of these are borderline absurd. Others are just depressing. Anyway, hop in the WABAC machine and let’s look at Moneyball’s past!
This is the oldest tweet I came across:
You have to admire the optimism here. This was the first time Dallas would play in the Western Conference Finals. While the Lakers eventually won the series, and the championship, the Mavs did force the series to go seven games.
It’s clear, though, that much of the site’s past optimism may have been misplaced. A couple of themes emerge when looking back, namely about coaching and the starting center. It’s always about the center with this team, isn’t it?
Take a look at the dates on these tweets. Even if you don’t know much about Mavs history I bet you’ll be able to venture a guess that none of these head coaches turned the Mavs around. The trio had a combined record of 103-241. The 1990s were rough.
Okay, now this one is a little harsh. I can only imagine whoever wrote it was bitter that Bill Wennington left the team. It strikes a little bit of the same tone as Dan Gilbert’s letter when LeBron went to Miami. Oh, and just so you know, Wennington won two championships with the Bulls.
Well, sorta... Maybe?
Okay, so the Mavs don’t have the best track record with centers. But hey, at least Tyson Chandler worked out and hopefully so does Andrew Bogut.
Even though the team was kind of terrible in the 90s, there was still some hope floating around. The Mavs really did have some nice young players.
Hell yeah! The Three Js, baby! Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson, and Jamal Mashburn. This is what it’s all about, right here!
So, the Three Js didn’t work out. I’m still kind of sad about that. But at least one player from that era helped the team.
If you’re young like a number of the staffers currently at Moneyball, you may not remember George McCloud. But let me tell you, he could flat out shoot. He still holds the Mavs’ single season record for both 3-point attempts and makes. He was a stretch 4 before anyone coined the term.
Up until now, we’ve looked at mostly tweets from the pre-Dirk era. Let’s jump ahead to our first mention of the man who would transform the Mavericks and the NBA.
Uh, so we didn’t get off on the right foot with this one. But really, no one really knew what to expect from Dirk Nowitzki when the team traded Robert “Tractor” Traylor for him on draft night. The same goes for Steve Nash. He was merely Kidd’s backup in Phoenix before coming to Dallas. Cut us some slack for this one.
To say that the start of the Dirk-era was rocky would be somewhat of an understatement. We were all getting used to Mark Cuban’s unique style of ownership, after all. Perhaps we got a little overwhelmed by it all as the site seemed to take it to opposite extremes.
He literally did this after getting fined by the league. He got fined a lot early on. Frankly, his whole demeanor got on the nerves of many. Yet, we’re happy he didn’t heed our advice. Cuban has done a lot for the Mavericks and for the city of Dallas throughout the years. We wouldn’t trade him for anything. Well, except maybe for a few Hunger Busters and a DQ Blizzard or two.
But Cuban and Dennis Rodman weren’t the only ones stirring the pot in the early 2000s. There was also Don Nelson and Nellyball.
Sure, Avery Johnson was the head coach when we published this post. But the impact Nellyball and Nelson had on Johnson are undeniable. Marquis Daniels ran the offense at times under both coaches and wasn’t terrible at it. Pair him with Josh Howard and the Mavs had a formidable young perimeter duo. Positionless basketball at its finest. However, point guard of the future might have been a slight exaggeration.
No, not all of the takes were great. But hey, the writers and editors kept an air of optimism for the most part. That’s hard to do especially when you’re covering the team during the 90s. Keep those heads up, long forgotten Moneyball scribes! If you bump into any of these authors on your travels, let them know that the Mavs have the coaching thing figured out. As for the center position ... eh, at least it’s better than it was.
Words by Doyle, tweets by Andi and Dan