The 2019-2020 season marks the Dallas Mavericks’ 40th anniversary as an NBA team. That history includes legendary performances by franchise stars Dirk Nowitzki, Luka Doncic, Derek Harper, Steve Nash, and more.
The franchise has had plenty to celebrate – an NBA Championship, an MVP, Rookie of Year awards, Sixth Man of the Year awards, and more.
We’re highlighting the 40 greatest moments in Dallas Mavericks history. This article celebrates the greatest of those moments. See the previous segments for other great moments.
0 Greatest Moments in Dallas Mavericks History – #1-10
10. Dallas Mavericks Make First NBA Finals Appearance in 2006
After 26 seasons in the NBA, numerous Playoff disappointments, and years of irrelevance, the Dallas Mavericks reached the NBA Finals. This was no small task. They beat the San Antonio Spurs in the second round who had won an absurd 63 games. (More on that in a bit.) Next, hey beat the Phoenix Suns in the Conference Finals who were led by that season’s MVP, Steve Nash. Dirk Nowitzki himself was an MVP candidate and was showing the world what he was capable of doing when the lights were the brightest.
Despite losing in the Finals, the Mavericks accomplished something special – something only two NBA teams accomplish every season. They did something they could be proud of.
9. Dallas Mavericks Beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the 2006 Western Conference Semifinals
Speaking of the Mavericks’ 2006 Playoff run, one of the greatest series in franchise history took place in the Western Conference Semifinals that year. The Mavericks and the Spurs had one of the best rivalries at the time. Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan were two of the best bigs in the game. And the Spurs had won 63 games that season. This series absolutely lived up to the hype.
But what exactly did this series win mean for the franchise? Josh Bowe from MavsMoneyball.com gave his perspective on why this series was so impactful, both for the team and for fans:
“It was easier for teens to be big Mavs fans in the mid-2000s: The Cowboys stunk, none of us were really cognizant of the Mavericks’ terrible 1990s run or the Cowboys’ Super Bowls, and Dirk was in his prime as a top-10 or 5 player in the league. It was the perfect storm of just being a dumb fan yelling loudly with your friends.
It also helps that this was one of Dirk’s defining moments, beating one of the best teams of the decade on the road in a Game 7. The fact that he did it by going to the rim too, pushing the ball over the rim as Manu Ginobili fouled him, made it all the better. Dirk was going through some rough ‘he’s a soft jump shooter’ commentary on the national level and even by DFW writers. So scoring the most important bucket of his career to that point by barreling toward the rim made the win all the sweeter. It was just a ridiculous series filled with Hall of Famers all at their peaks.”
8. Moody Madness
Need an idea of how chaotic the Moody Madness game was? One of the referees ordered a security guard to be ready to protect him as he hid under a table.
The up-and-coming 1984 Mavericks had forced a deciding Game 5 against the Seattle SuperSonics. The only problem was that their home court, Reunion Arena, had already been booked. The game was instead played in Moody Coliseum, a building designed to seat 8,000 fewer people than Reunion Arena. (Some people claim there were at least 1,000 extra people at the game just standing in doorways and walkways.)
And that’s not even the craziest part of this game. The inbound pass. The 14-minute second. The do-over.
Moody Madness is not just one story, it’s many. In the end, the Mavericks declared their arrival into the NBA. They were ready to beat the odds and to be taken seriously.
7. Dallas Mavericks Complete Fourth Quarter Comeback In Game 2 Win vs the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals
You couldn’t have written it better than this. After years of heartbreak, the Mavericks made it back to the NBA Finals. And who else do they face but the Miami Heat, the team that defeated them in their first Finals appearance. Not only that, but the Heat had just formed what was supposed to be one of the most formidable Big 3s of all time: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
In Game 2 of the series, Mavericks fans were about to lose hope. With 7:14 left in the game, Dwyane Wade hit a crushing 3-pointer that put the Heat up by 15 points.
But it wasn’t over.
The Mavericks dug deep as a team. They fought with all of their collective strength and went on a 22-5 run. Dirk sealed the historical moment with a game-winning layup over Chris Bosh.
6. Dallas Mavericks 7-Game Series vs. the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1988 Western Conference Finals
The NBA of the 1980s was dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Those two teams won 9 of the 10 Championships in the decade. The Lakers won 5 of them.
But for a brief moment, the Dallas Mavericks put history on hold.
The Mavericks had two All-Stars – Mark Aguirre and James Donaldson – the reigning Sixth Man of the Year – Roy Tarpley – and the proclaimed best backcourt in the league, made up of Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper. Despite that, no one really took them seriously – that is, until they beat the defending Champs by a combined 26 points in back-to-back games in the Western Conference Finals.
With the NBA world watching, the Mavs pushed the Showtime Lakers – Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Scott, etc. – to the brink. No one wanted to give them respect, so they earned it.
5. Mark Cuban Buys the Dallas Mavericks
Mark Cuban made it clear from the beginning that winning is the only thing that matters. Over the past 20 years, Cuban built a culture that propelled the team toward heights that were distant fantasies before he took over. The time and energy he poured in, the money he paid to bring in elite talent, and the support he’s given to those who are greater than him in their roles (Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle come to mind) are what we see on the outside as fans.
Regarding what he’s done on the inside – what he did for the team’s culture – there’s more to say that just a few sentences. The Mavericks changed when Cuban bought the team. Two Finals appearances, two Conference Finals appearances, and an NBA Championship speak for themselves. And the stories of his kindness and generosity say even more.
4. Dallas Mavericks Trade for Dirk Nowitzki
This isn’t just the best trade in Dallas Mavericks history. It’s one of the best trades in NBA history. After being one of the worst teams in the league for 8 seasons, the Mavericks pulled off one of the most significant moves ever, acquiring Dirk Nowitzki in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.
As brilliant as this trade proved to be, it wasn’t the only home run the team hit that day.
“Donnie (and his father) put down a path for Dirk Nowitzki to land here. It was June 24, 1998, and the Nelsons engineered ways for the Mavericks to acquire both Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash in draft-day deals.
Not that anyone (including the Nelsons) foresaw what was to be. But ask yourself this: How many franchises in the NBA or in any sport have acquired two future MVPs on the same day?”
Dirk didn’t just change the Mavericks. He changed the NBA. He’s one of the greatest players of all time. Nearly every moment on this list would not have happened if it wasn’t for Dirk.
3. Dirk Nowitzki Wins League MVP
In the 2006-2007 season, Dirk was top 5 in the NBA in points, field goals, free throws, free throw percentage, Offensive Rating, Offensive Win Shares, PER, Win Shares, and Box Plus/Minus. He was the only player on his team to average more than 20 points, and the only player to average more than 8 rebounds. He led the Mavericks to the best record in the NBA, with 67 wins and only 15 losses. He scored 30 or more points 19 times, and recorded a double-double 41 times.
In a league full of superstars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and more, Dirk proved to be the best player, and he carried his team to the best record.
2. Dirk Nowitzki Scores 30,000 Career Points
Dirk Nowitzki is 1 of 6 NBA players who have scored at least 30,000 points, and have won League MVP, an NBA Championship, and Finals MVP. One. Out. Of. Six. All. Time.
Only 7 players have scored at least 30,000 points.
Dirk is truly in elite company. The best of the best. And he sealed his legacy with a turnaround, one-legged fadeaway.
To put the cherry on top of this, here’s more to celebrate about Dirk’s NBA career:
Dirk Nowitzki on the All-Time NBA Leaderboards
6th in points
8th in field goals made
11th in 3-point field goals made
5th in defensive rebounds
26th in total rebounds
30th in PER (21st among retired players)
8th in total win shares
6th in offensive win shares
25th in defensive win shares
1. Dallas Mavericks Win an NBA Championship in 2011
Many NBA titles have been won in this league’s history. All of them are special and required sacrifice, grit, and talent. But it’s hard to imagine a story as great as the one the world witnessed in 2011.
The Mavericks were bet against in every series. They faced the toughest opponents – the young Thunder with three future MVPs, the Lakers who were defending their Championship and were destined for a three-peat, and the Heat who had a fresh Big Three that was crowned as the league’s next Champion before the season even started.
Dirk Nowitzki had been brushed aside, derided, and judged as not good enough.
The Mavericks faced the team that had ripped their heart out the last time they were on this quest.
Despite all of that, the Mavericks came out victorious. With the world watching, the Mavericks showed what a true Championship team is. In a hard-fought six-game series, the Mavericks finally defeated the Heat on June 12, 2011, 105-95.
Mavs fans will remember just about every moment of every series in that Playoff run. And it will gown down as one of the greatest Playoff runs in NBA history.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this joyride. Believe it or not, there are so many more moments we could have included on here. If you think of one we missed, talk about in the comments section!
We’re fortunate to be fans of a team with such a rich history. And with a young core developing in 2020, it looks likes we’re in for another 40 years of excitement.