40 Greatest Moments in Dallas Mavericks History #11-20: Epic Playoff Battles

The Dallas Mavericks have an amazing history that now spans 40 seasons. After 21 Playoff appearances, an NBA Championship, and 14 50-win seasons, there are plenty of amazing moments.

We’re celebrating by picking the 40 greatest moments in franchise history, continuing with the third installment in this series.

Continue the celebration with us and see the previous segments for other great moments.

Greatest Moments in Dallas Mavericks Franchise History – #11-20

20. Dirk Nowitzki Scores 50 Points vs. the Phoenix Suns In Game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Finals

With Steve Nash and Michael Finley gone, the 2005-2006 season was the first time we got to see Dirk as the true leader of the Mavericks. And he delivered.

With the Conference Finals series tied 2-2, Dirk scored 50 points in a crucial Game 5 win. And those 50 points were on only 26 shots! Dirk was at his best in 2006 and was 3rd in MVP voting. This was just one example of his greatness coming to the forefront.

19. Dirk Nowitzki Becomes the Dallas Mavericks’ Franchise Leading Scorer

It was on March 8th, 2008, just 10 years after being traded to the Dallas Mavericks, that Dirk Nowitzki burned his legacy into the Mavs’ history books. He became the franchise’s leading scorer by hitting his famous one-legged fadeaway over Richard Jefferson.

By 2008, the franchise had been through some of its darkest days – the abysmal 90s, the tormenting loss in the 2006 NBA Finals, and the maddening exit from the 2007 Playoffs. Dirk didn’t bail. He didn’t make demands. He worked hard, showed up, and continued to be a leader.

Bo, or as many Mavs fans might know him as, @MavsHighlights on Twitter, talked about what kind of person Dirk is and why that makes him so special.


“When I think about why I’m proud to be a life-long Mavs fan, my mind goes to Dirk visiting the children’s hospital year after year to brighten the hearts of youngsters and families suffering through dark days. He didn’t want publicity or recognition, he wanted to be a blessing and a force for good.  Of course there are many on court moments that stand out, but when I think about ‘Uncle Dirk’s’ hospital visits, I am most proud to be an MFFL.”

The day Dirk announced his retirement was sad and surreal. The Mavericks gave Dirk a hero’s celebration by commemorating his achievements in a post-game retirement ceremony. They went even further by naming a street after him. And then, just like Dirk always did, they took it a step further.

The Dirk logo on the Mavericks’ home court is a fitting symbol of the mark he left on this franchise and this city. Mike Fisher from Sports Illustrated and DallasBasketball.com commented on how this shadowy imprint is a perfect celebration of who Dirk was as a player and who he is as a person.


“Getting to know [Dirk] over the course of 21 years has been a special thing, and knowing he’ll be around for more of it, in his post-playing career, is special, too. But … The Logo! The Dirk Silhouette! So perfect, painted onto the AAC court at exactly the mid-range shot spot where he did so much damage, and painted in a color that is just a shade off the color of the hardwood, accenting the fact that Dirk was different without being ‘showy’ – I mean, you can barely see the silhouette! What a wonderful way to capture the legacy of Dirk Nowitzki. It doesn’t scream at you, it simply exists, subtle and brilliant and quiet and, I suspect, forever.”

17. Dallas Mavericks Complete 15-Point Comeback vs. Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of the 2011 Western Conference Finals

The Oklahoma City Thunder might have had the best young core in the league in 2011 with Kevin DurantRussell Westbrook, and James Harden, but the Mavericks had an MVP and veteran toughness.

With Dallas leading the series 2-1, Game 4 was crucial for OKC. The Thunder took a 15-point lead with 5 minutes left in the game. In those final 5 minutes and in Overtime, Dirk scored 14 points, finishing with 40 for the game.

The Mavericks crushed any dreams the Thunder might have had of tying the series. They won the game and ended the series the following game.

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16. Dallas Mavericks Sweep the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2011 NBA Playoffs – Mother’s Day Massacre

There were some crazy comebacks and surprising moments in the Mavericks’ 2011 Playoff run, but no series was as shocking as their 4-0 sweep of the 2-time Defending Champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Semifinals.

The Lakers seemed destined to three-peat. With a squad of Kobe BryantPau GasolAndrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom, the Mavericks didn’t seem to have the talent to compete.

But they didn’t just compete. The Mavericks obliterated the Champions. In the final game of the series, the Mavericks hit a record-tying 20 three-pointers and put the league on notice with a 122-86 win. As Kobe put it, “They just made three after three after three.” It was an offensive clinic and an exhilarating moment for every Mavs fan.

15. Dirk Nowitzki Plays With Flu-Like Symptoms in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals

After a shocking comeback in Game 2 of the series, the Dallas Mavericks lost Game 3. The Miami Heat had a 2-1 series lead. Was this it for Dirk and the Mavs? Was the Miami Heat’s Big Three of LeBron JamesDwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh inevitable?

The odds seemed to be in their favor, especially after it was discovered that Dirk was playing Game 4 with a fever up to 102 degrees. But Dirk mustered all of the energy and strength he could and put the Mavericks on his back once again.

With 15 seconds left, with 1 point separating the two teams, and after struggling the entire game, Dirk made a driving layup to give the Mavericks the lead. Game 4 was in the books, and the Mavericks were now on their way to history.

14. Dallas Mavericks Win a Franchise Record 67 Games in the 2007 Season

After a disappointing end to the 2006 season, the Mavericks were on a mission to obliterate the league. Along the way, they had a 17-game winning streak (the 7th longest at the time) and destroyed opponents by 20 and 30 points. If it wasn’t for their 0-4 start, they could have won 70 games or more.

Dirk Nowitzki averaged nearly 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists, had a 50/40/90 season, and won league MVP. His co-star Josh Howard made the All-Star Team.

The Mavericks weren’t messing around this season. They finished with a record of 67-15, tied for 7th all time.

13. Dallas Mavericks Trade for Steve Nash

In the summer of 1998, the Dallas Mavericks made the biggest trade in franchise history. But we’ll get to that later in this list. They also made another historical trade that summer, acquiring a young Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns.

The Dirk and Nash combo was deadly. They grew together, both on and off the court. Dirk and Nash took the Mavericks to the Playoffs for the first time in 10 years and led them to surprising series wins over the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings, and even to the Western Conference FInals in 2003. The two were destined for greatness, even if it wasn’t meant to be together.

12. Dallas Mavericks Draft Jason Kidd in the 1994 NBA Draft

Jason Kidd is the greatest player the Dallas Mavericks have ever drafted, at least at this point in history. Luka Doncic may prove to be far better, but we won’t get ahead of ourselves.

After finishing the 1993 season with a 13-69 record, the Mavericks improved to 36-46 in Kidd’s Rookie season. He led the NBA in triple-doubles (as a Rookie!) and won co-Rookie of the Year honors.

Even his departure wasn’t the worst thing ever, since the Mavericks got Michael Finley in the trade, an acquisition that in itself is one of the greatest moves in franchise history. And in the end, the Mavericks and Jason Kidd reunited in 2008 and Kidd helped the franchise win its first Championship in 2011.

11. Dallas Mavericks Draft Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman in the 1981 NBA Draft

The Mavericks pretty much nailed the 1981 draft. They got Mark Aguirre with the first pick. He went on to average nearly 25 points a game in his 8 seasons with the Mavs. With the 9th pick, the Mavericks got Rolando Blackman, who averaged nearly 20 points per game with the Mavericks. Even their second round pick, Jay Vincent, was solid.

After starting their franchise history with a 15-67 record, the Mavericks improved their record in 7 of the next 9 seasons. Aguirre and Blackman weren’t just Mavs greats, they were league greats. They led the team to fiery Playoff battles against the Lakers, SuperSonics, and Jazz. The duo of Aguirre and Blackman made 7 All-Star Teams and put the franchise on the map.

And the best is yet to come. After 40 seasons in the NBA, there are plenty of memories to share. Don’t miss part 4 with the top 10 greatest moments in Dallas Mavericks history. Until then, check out parts 1 and 2.