In celebration of the NBA’s 75th anniversary, Bally Sports — throughout the season — will look back on the standout players, influential figures and memorable moments that helped shape the league. Lauren Moses chooses our all-time starting five for the Dallas Mavericks.
Like most expansion teams, the Dallas Mavericks needed a few years to find their path to success.
In the 1983-84 season, their fourth year of existence, the Mavericks made the playoffs for the first time thanks to young stars Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman. However, a decade later, the team took a downward turn when the roster changed due to free agency and trades.
It wasn’t until the arrival of NBA legends Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki — along with new leadership under Mark Cuban — when Dallas found its groove again. Nowitzki cemented his legacy in 2011 when he led the Mavericks to their first NBA championship, and after missing the playoffs three straight seasons, Dallas returned to the postseason the last two years behind its new face of the franchise — Luka Doncic.
Guard: Jason Kidd
Kidd was the floor general who many of today’s NBA point guards try to emulate. Throughout two separate stints with Dallas, he averaged 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and a franchise-best 8.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
The Hall of Famer and 10-time All-Star (three with Dallas) played crucial roles for three other teams. At age 38, Kidd provided a steady veteran hand in the 2011 NBA Finals, when he averaged 7.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.2 steals in 37.5 minutes to help the Mavericks beat LeBron James and the Miami Heat in six games.
Kidd returned to Dallas last year to become the Mavericks' head coach after spending two seasons in Los Angeles as a Lakers assistant coach.
Guard: Luka Doncic
The versatility and clutch buckets are the reasons why the 22-year-old Slovenian makes the lineup with just four seasons of NBA experience.
Doncic won Rookie of the Year in 2019, and in his sophomore season, he helped end the Mavs’ playoff drought by averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists for a 43-32 squad. He’s also the youngest player in NBA history to lead the league in triple-doubles and earn multiple All-NBA first-team selections.
With expectations high in Dallas, Doncic continues to entertain with his high-arcing floaters and buzzer-beating 3-pointers. His career scoring average of 25.6 points is No. 1 in franchise history, and he’s already the Mavericks’ all-time leader with 38 triple-doubles.
Guard: Rolando Blackman
Before Nowitzki emerged as the best player in Mavericks history, the lanky 6-foot-6 shooting guard owned that title. Blackman was known for his unguardable midrange jumper as one of the best guards of his time. He held the franchise’s all-time scoring record for 18 years before Nowitzki broke it in 2008, and he remains second with 16,643 points.
Blackman was a critical player in the Mavs’ rise in the 1980s, helping them make the playoffs six times and reach the 1988 Western Conference finals. During his 11 seasons in Dallas, Blackman averaged 19.2 points, shot 49.7 percent from the field and was selected to four All-Star teams.
Forward: Mark Aguirre
Known for his time with the Detroit Pistons’ two-time champion Bad Boys, Aguirre began his career in Dallas after being drafted No. 1 overall in 1981. The 6-6 forward averaged a career-high and franchise-best 29.5 points during the 1983-1984 season, when he led the league in field goals (925) and guided the Mavericks to their first postseason appearance.
Aguirre played a huge role in putting the Mavs on the map, leading them to the playoffs in five of his seven full seasons in Dallas. An exceptional scorer for the Mavericks, he had to overcome being the target of opponents' defensive game plans.
“I don’t take anything from the NBA players at all, but I trip sometimes because you don’t know what it’s like to be double-teamed your entire life,” Aguirre said in a 2020 interview. “Some people are good, but it’s a different feel when every game you go in you’ve got to figure out what two people I’ve got to beat and where they’re going to come from.”
Forward/Center: Dirk Nowitzki
The best player in franchise history had a less-than-stellar 1998-1999 rookie year, averaging 8.2 points per game and shooting only 40.5 percent from the field. But in his second season, he gained confidence. It would carry him through the next 19 years of his NBA career as the 7-foot German achieved NBA greatness:
- 14 All-Star appearances
- 12 All-NBA selections
- 2006-07 NBA MVP
- 2011 NBA champion
- 2011 NBA Finals MVP
- 75th NBA Anniversary Team
Nowitzki was a consistent force on both ends of the floor, averaging 20.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game over 21 seasons. He holds the franchise record for points (31,560), 3-pointers (1,982), free throws (7,240), rebounds (11,489), blocks (1,281), games (1,522) and minutes played (51,368).
The Mavericks will honor Nowitzki on Wednesday, Jan. 5, when his No. 41 jersey is retired before they face Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Previous NBA 75th Anniversary stories
- All-time starting five: Phoenix Suns
- Dominique Wilkins on the NBA greats who inspired him
- All-time starting five: Detroit Pistons
- Kevin Chouinard: From Celtics fan to Hawks reporter
- Renee Montgomery's hoops career started as 'student of the game'
- Lisa Byington's NBA memories of the Bad Boys and MJ
- The five commissioners who oversaw the NBA's evolution