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DALLAS MAVERICKS. The Dallas Mavericks, a professional basketball team, belong to the Midwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association. The team officially became the twenty-third member of the NBA on May 1, 1980, when owner Donald Carter's Dallas National Basketball Association, Incorporated, was awarded a franchise by NBA commissioner Lawrence O'Brien. Norm Sonju, the club's first and only general manager, initiated the process of bringing professional basketball to Dallas in 1978, when he contacted Dallas mayor Bob Folsom. Together they put together a group of eight investors, headlined by the Carter family's Home Interiors and Gifts, Incorporated. Mayor Folsom and the city of Dallas also assisted by building the 17,007-seat Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas in 1979. Sonju hired Dick Motta, then the coach with the third highest number of wins in NBA history, as the team's first head coach. He was joined by assistant coach Bob Weiss. In the front office twenty-eight year old Rick Sund was hired as director of player personnel. Together, they built the first Mavericks team.

That first team had a record of fifteen wins and sixty-seven losses for the 1980–81 season. It had been feared that Dallas, with its rich football tradition, would not support the Mavericks; however, that first season the team finished a respectable eighteenth in the league in attendance. By the 1985–86 season the Mavericks had set an NBA record by filling Reunion Arena to 99.4 percent of its capacity. The next three seasons, the club increased its win total by thirteen, ten, and five wins, respectively. The 1983–84 season marked the first time that the club won more games than it lost, and it marked the team's first playoff appearance. The Mavericks won that first playoff series, known as Moody Madness, over the Seattle Supersonics in dramatic fashion. That same year Mark Aguirre became the first Maverick to ever play in the NBA All-Star game. The next two years the team finished with identical 44–38 season records, losing both years in the early rounds of the playoffs. The 1986–87 season marked the Mavericks' first and only Midwest Division championship. The team finished with a best ever record of 55–27 and was one of the premier franchises in the league. However, they lost their first round playoff series to the underdog Supersonics. After the season, another shock came as Dick Motta resigned as head coach. John MacLeod became the second coach and promptly took the Mavericks to the finals of the Western Conference playoffs. They even extended the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers to the seventh and deciding game of that series.

The Mavericks, however, slipped the next season and won only thirty-eight games, missing the playoffs for the first time in five years. The 1989–90 team lost in the first round of the playoffs. That marked the last time the Mavericks made the post-season playoffs. Richie Audobato took the reins from MacLeod during the next season, as the Mavericks entered a drastic decline. By the time he was replaced by Garfield Heard during the 1992–93 season, the Mavericks were the worst team in the NBA. They narrowly avoided being the worst team in league history by winning only eleven games. Quinn Buckner became the franchise's first head coach for the 1993–94 season. However, he won only thirteen games, and was fired after one year. The 1994–95 season marked the return of Dick Motta and a resurgence. The Mavericks won thirty-six games, one of the largest one-season improvements in NBA history, and young stars Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn, and Jason Kidd evoked memories of previous Mavericks heroes like Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman. Mavericks fans began to again turn out in large numbers to support their team, but they missed the playoffs once again.


Steve Pate, The Dallas Mavericks '87-'88 (Dallas: Taylor, 1987). Kevin Sullivan, Dallas Mavericks 1986–87 Media Guide.

Eric M. Pfeifle


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Eric M. Pfeifle, "DALLAS MAVERICKS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 28, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.