Many NBA owners strive to be seen as their team’s number one fan, but Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks is one of the few who can truly back it up. As a young businessman living in the area in 1982, Cuban sat in the cheap seats of the old Reunion Arena where he was one of the original “Reunion Rowdies,” the name given to the club’s earliest, most vocal supporters. It should come as no surprise that when he bought the franchise in 2000, he quickly got to work ensuring that his fellow Rowdies had plenty to cheer about.
Professional basketball arrived in Dallas prior to the start of the 1980-81 season with the introduction of the expansion Mavericks. After winning just 15 games in the inaugural season, the franchise headed into the NBA Draft with two picks in the top ten. The Mavs chose Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman, and thus, put the wheels of triumph in motion. Aguirre developed into a three-time All-Star, while Blackman earned the designation four times. Most essentially, the stalwarts helped Dallas win games. In ‘83-84, the club notched its first winning season and triumphed in a playoff series for the first time in team history. Campaigns of 50-plus wins would follow in both ‘86-87 and ‘87-88, but true NBA glory continued to remain out of reach.
From ‘90 to ‘99, the Mavericks suffered a series of setbacks, and the team won more than 28 games just once in that span. However, hope for the future arrived in the summer of ‘98 when the club acquired 7-foot German phenom Dirk Nowitzki and Canadian rising star Steve Nash. The duo, along with guard Michael Finley, set about revitalizing the franchise, and their efforts paid off almost immediately. In 2001, Dallas stormed back into postseason action for the first time in eleven years, and in ‘02-03, the squad posted 60 victories. However, Nash and Finley wouldn’t stay in town long enough to see the Mavericks ascend the mountain of success.
In 2006, Nowitzki led Dallas to its first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals, and the following year, he pulled down league MVP honors for himself while guiding the club to 67 wins. That being said, it’s the 2010-11 campaign that sealed Dirk’s legacy in the Big D. For all his seasons of high-volume scoring, critics were always quick to point out that Nowitzki couldn’t win when it mattered most. That conversation changed during the 2011 Finals when Dirk battled LeBron James and the vaunted Big Three of Miami, and walked away with both the world championship and Finals MVP.
The thrilling conquest not only delighted the Rowdies, but also the ManiAACs, the team’s “hip hop dance troupe of beefy men” who perform at American Airlines Center. Dallas had emerged as a destination for top-flight NBA action, and no one (Cuban included) could be more excited about what great heights the team will approach next.