When it comes to where star players want to play — in any sport — it’s not always the city and/or the star players already on the team that motivates the player to sign his signature in black or blue ink (or with a pen on his tablet). It usually comes down to the sex appeal of the organization.
The Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers, for instance, both play in Wisconsin, but the Brewers — even when they were winning a few years back — are not an organization that players want to play for. The Brewers just don’t have the sort of legendary history or aura that the Packers do. The New York Giants play in the same city as the New York Yankees and New York Knicks (well, technically the Giants play in New Jersey), but you don’t see DeSean Jackson or Marshawn Lynch talking about how much they want to play for the Giants. That’s because it’s not a “sexy” NFL team to play for.
And the same can be said for the Mavericks in relation to the Dallas Cowboys. The Mavericks are extremely popular and one of the most valuable organizations in the NBA, but they’re not the Cowboys. The Mavericks aren’t known in any circles as America’s team, like the Cowboys are. Again, it’s the same city, but not the same appeal. So many star players have dreamt of playing for the Cowboys as a kid, but it’s comical to picture any of the current superstars in the NBA having that same dream about the Mavericks.
And it’s not like the face of the franchise, Dirk Nowitzki, is to blame for that either. If Nowitzki played for the Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers, he’d probably be even better than Kobe Bryant at luring in free agents because of his unselfishness. But it’s one thing for an NBA team to make a ton of money and another to achieve an iconic status. That one championship the Mavericks won in 2011 was as sweet as it gets, but it did not elevate Dallas to that sexy, iconic status.
It’s futile too, to disagree with this notion. Just think about it — the Cowboys, no matter how average a team they’ve put out there over the past decade, have had to deal with the pressure and expectations of the early and late-1990s Chicago Bulls. Poor Tony Romo puts up elite numbers at quarterback, yet gets treated like a dog by the media and fans.
When have the Mavericks ever been a front-runner in anything? Even during Mark Cuban‘s lone championship run, the experts were picking his Mavericks to get pummeled in the first round by the then-No. 6 seed Portland Trail Blazers. And the trend for the star players in today’s NBA is to gang up on underdog franchises like the Mavericks, with a duo — or trio — of stars.
Dwyane Wade isn’t opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat after the season so he can sign with the Mavericks. There was no chance in hell Dwight Howard and Deron Williams were going to pass up the opportunity to form their own gangs with their respective sexy franchises. Not to sign with the good guy, underdog Dallas Mavericks — no way. It’s normally that fed-up, bitter veteran who never won anything who decides to sign with the Mavericks, with the goal of exacting revenge on all the NBA teams that did him wrong.
And there’s nothing wrong with being that sort of organization either. The Mavericks shouldn’t desire to be picked to win it all every year like the Cowboys, as that’s unfair. And what’s wrong with playing the role of the good guys? What’s wrong with being the underdog? Nothing, especially when all that money keeps coming in.