Dallas Mavericks – The Mavericks joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1980, following the Cleveland Cavaliers entry 10 years prior while preceding the Miami Heat by eight years.
Dallas first three seasons were marked by steady improvement as the team went from 15 to 28 to 38 wins. The Mavericks would not reach the playoffs until their fourth season, though, when they finished with a 43-39 record under head coach Dick Motta.
Dallas would qualify for the postseason the next four years and it reached the Western Conference Finals in 1988 with Mark Aquirre, Rolando Blackmon and Derek Harper leading the way.
While the 80’s were a success for the Mavericks, the 1990’s marked an extremely dark period for the still young franchise. Dallas made it to the playoffs in 1990 with 47 wins, but it would not see the postseason again until 2001.
Dirk Nowitzki’s emergence as a superstar in the early 2000’s and Mark Cuban’s purchase of the team precipitated a golden era for the franchise, which averaged 56.4 wins per season between 2001 and 2011.
The Mavericks also made two trips to the NBA Finals during those years, losing to Miami in the 2006 championship series before turning the tables on the Heat in the 2011 league decider.
While players like Aquirre, Blackmon, Steve Nash, Jason Terry and Michael Finley left their mark in Dallas, Nowitzki is, without question, the franchise’s all-time greatest players. The Wurzburg, Germany native in the Mavericks leader in almost every statistical category, including games played, points, rebounds and free throws.
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