In 2011, the Dallas Mavericks were standing on top of the basketball world as NBA Champions. The band of misfits that were too old to play anywhere else pulled it together and did the unthinkable – they defeated the mighty Lebron James and Miami Heat.
However, the championship high didn’t last long as free agency struck the Mavericks hard. Tyson Chandler, arguably the best defensive player in Mavericks history, was allowed to walk away as he signed with the New York Knicks. J.J Barea, the fireball point guard who provided a consistent spark all year, was allowed to walk and he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In 2012, the Mavericks lost Jason Kidd and Jason Terry to free agency as well. Dallas’ owner Mark Cuban had been talking about financial flexibility and clearing salary cap space. The Mavericks put their hopes in signing Dwight Howard or Deron Williams during the last offseason. Of course, Howard wound up with the Los Angeles Lakers while Williams had narrowed his decision down to two teams.
Williams had said all along that he would either sign with the Mavericks, his hometown team, or he would stay with the Brooklyn Nets. Williams met with both teams and ultimately decided to stay with the Nets. However, this is where the story gets really good. It came out later that Williams chose the Nets because Cuban didn’t show up to the meeting. Instead, Cuban decided to tape a reality show in Los Angeles while head coach Rick Carlisle and team president Donnie Nelson tried to lure the biggest free agent name out there.
Williams and Cuban have had some verbal battles over the course of the season. Some of the he said, she said type of stuff you expect from a junior high classroom and not a billionaire’s office. On Mar. 1 the two teams squared off for the first time since last summer in Brooklyn. Dallas walked away with a 98 – 90 win in spite of Williams 24 points.
All of this provides an interesting scenario tonight in Dallas. Williams and the Nets come into the American Airlines Center for the first time this season. Lots of speculation has been made on whether the fans should boo the Nets point guard for shunning Dallas last summer. For others, it’s a chance to look at what might have been for the Mavericks if Williams had been in a Dallas uniform all season long.
Of course you have to wonder what Dirk Nowitzki is thinking through all of this. He had to watch the ownership let a championship team basically walk away. He kept hearing about financial flexibility, but at the end of the day he is playing with more spare parts. Tonight he has to look across the floor and see the face of someone that could possibly be a teammate of his.
Cuban has gone on record to say that he believes Dallas is better off without Williams on his team. I’m sure he’s right. The Mavericks couldn’t possibly use his 18.2 points per game right now. No, they are much better off without him. Cuban, I think your reality show is calling you.