They are the first of the modern expansion teams, the Modern expansion teams are any team from 1980 onward. They enjoyed initial success than fell by the way side in the 1990s, only to be resurrected as one of the power franchises of the 2000s. They are the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavericks joined the NBA as the leagues 23rd team in 1980 for a cost of 12 million dollars. The Mavericks won their first game ever in the NBA by beating the Spurs, but would win only five out of their next 40 games and finish the season 15-67. The 1981 draft for the Mavericks is probably one of the most successful drafts for a team in league history, the Mavericks selected Mark Aguirre with the first pick, Rolando Blackman with the 9th pick, and Jay Vincent with the 24th pick. All three players would play key roles in rejuvenizing the team. The second season the Mavs finished second to last in the Midwest division with a 28-54 record.
In 82-83 the Mavericks made a push at the western conference playoffs, but at the time only six teams per conference made the playoffs and the Mavericks missed the final spot by seven games. The next season saw the Mavs finally break into the playoffs and finally get a winning record. In 83-84 the Mavericks went 43-39 and captured the 4th seed in the west. In the playoffs the Mavs defeated the Seattle Sonics in five games before losing to the Los Angles Lakers in five.
The next two seasons saw the Mavericks go 44-38, in 85 they lost to Portland in the playoffs but in 86 they beat Utah in four games before falling to the Lakers in six. In the 86-87 season Mavericks set a franchise record for wins with 55, a mark which would hold true until 2001-02, unfortunately for the Mavericks they were stunned by the Sonics and eliminated in the first round.
The 87-88 season was one of the Mavericks most successful seasons, the team won 53 games and burly lost out on the Midwest title by one game to Denver. The Mavs would beat the Rockets in four games in the first round, than get vengeance on the Midwest winning Nuggets by beating them in six games. The Mavericks once again faced the Lakers in the playoffs, this time in their first Conference finals. The Lakers would take the first two games in LA, but the Mavericks would win the next two back in Dallas, the two teams would swap wins on their own home courts before a decisive game seven was to be played in Los Angeles. But game seven would be all Lakers as the Lakers would go on to win the NBA title.
The 88-89 season was the beginning of what many Mavs fans call “the free fall.” That season was plagued by injures which lead to the Mavs winning just 38 games and missing the playoffs. The Mavs would briefly bounce back in 89-90 going 47-35, but would be dispatched by the Blazers in three games. That would be the last playoffs for the Mavericks for 11 years.
The Nineties saw nothing but misery for the Mavericks. For the first three years of the decade they saw their win totals drop each season until it was an abysmal 11-71 in 92-93 that season the Mavericks flirted with the worst record ever in basketball History(9-73 by the Sixers) if it wasn’t for winning the last two games of the season they would have tied the record. 93-94 didn’t start off any better as the team started 1-23, and by mid season the Mavs were 3-40.
Some new hope was garnered for Mavs fans when they drafted Cal Point guard Jason Kidd, he along with previous draft picks Jamal Mashburn, and Jim Jackson made up the three Js. However, this never worked out like the Mavs had hoped. The three began to fight amongst each other. They did experience success at first, their first season together the Mavs won 36 games and missed the playoffs only by a few games, but after an injury plagued 95-96 season it was almost over for the three Js.
By 1996 everyone within the franchise had had it, owner Don Carter sold the team to Ross Perot, and during the 96-97 season a record 27 different players would wear Mavericks uniforms. Jason Kidd was traded to the Suns for Michael Finley and other players, Jamal Mashburn was traded to Miami, in one of the most lopsided trades in history, for Kurt Thomas, Sasha Danilovic, and Martin Muurasepp, only Samaki Walker stayed from opening day until the end of the season.
The Mavericks continued making trades in 97-98, including one of the largest trades in NBA history with the New Jersey Nets. Even with these trades the Mavericks continued to struggle going only 24-58. The next season, the lockout shortened 98-99 season, the Mavericks went 14-36 but actually had a winning home record for the first time in a decade. That season the Mavs made to seemingly unspectacular moves, acquiring point guard Steve Nash from Phoenix, and drafting Dirk Nowitzki from Germany.
The new millennia would see a huge change in the Mavericks fortunes. Owner Ross Perot sold the team to internet mogul Mark Cuban. Cuban immediately began changing the way the fans and league looked at the team. Cuban also became one of the most out spoke people in the NBA, he has been fined countless times and has paid millions in fines to the NBA. Despite all that, he successfully turned the laughing stock of the NBA into a contender.
In the 2000-01 the Mavericks finally returned to the playoffs after going 53-29. The Mavericks would go into the playoffs facing one of the west’s toughest teams the Utah Jazz. After two games the Mavs found themselves down 0-2, but the Mavs would win both games in Dallas and overcome a double figure 4th quarter lead by the Jazz to win the series. The Second round saw the Mavericks lose in five games to the Spurs.
The next few seasons seen the Mavericks continually get better. Both Nash and Nowitzki emerged as All-stars, and would eventually lead the team to the Western finals in ‘03 where they lost to the Spurs. After the 2004 season Steve Nash would leave the Mavericks and join the Suns. The next season, 04-05, the Mavericks would go 58-24 but would lose to Nash and the Suns in the playoffs.
The 2005-06 season saw the Mavericks win 60 games for the second time in franchise history, the Mavs would also finally get by their arch rivals the Spurs in the western semi-finals beating the Spurs in seven. After beating the Suns in six games the Mavs would face the Miami Heat in the NBA finals. The Mavericks would go up two games to none, and would be leading by 14 in the second half of game three, and it looked as if the Mavericks were poised to win their first NBA title. But the Mavericks had a huge collapse, they blew the 14 point lead and lost the game, than would lose the next three as the Heat won their first title in six games.
Trying to point the finals behind them the Mavericks entered into the 06-07 season as the favorites to win the title, and for most the season it appeared that they would. The Mavericks won a franchise record 67 games and would demolish any team they played. Dirk Nowitzki was named THE MVP. The Mavericks earned the top seed in the west and would face the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs. The Warriors stunned the Mavs in game one in Dallas, but The Mavs won the next game making the series tied going into Oakland. The Warriors would win the next two games and push the Mavs to the brink of elimination in game five. The Warriors lead by double figures late in the 4th, when MVP Dirk Nowitzki caught fire and lead the Mavericks to the win. But the Warriors would finish out the Mavs, and one of the greatest upsets in sports history, back in Oakland in game six.