In celebration of our opening night, we're trying to make up for the NBA's current lack of a scheduled opening night. We're going to try and make it up to you by posting three full NBA matchups of the teams that WOULD have been playing on opening night, if the season's schedule hadn't been scrapped. Here's game #1: the defending champion Mavs face off against the ECF Bulls, 90s style. Except in 1996, with the Bulls the champs and the Mavs, well, pretty far away from any sort of conference finals. They've got Jason Kidd, though!
Here's the box score. Click the jump for the highlight videos.
Pity Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks. Sure, their stirring, amazing championship this year may have finally vindicated the careers of Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Mark Cuban, and Kidd himself. But no amount of titles could ever wash off the taint of the team's performance in the 1990s. The Dallas Mavericks never broke .500 in a season starting in the decade. Their win totals - ordered by increasing levels of atrocity - were 40, 36, 28, 26, 24, 22, 20, 19, 13, 11 from 1990-91 to 1999-00.* The Mavericks were 15 years old in 1996 (and had even had quite a few good runs with Mark Aguirre), but seemed like the oldest expansion franchise in the league at this point - a total joke, filled with one superstar destined to leave soon (Jason Kidd) and two 17th-team All-NBA players (Jim Jackson, Jamal Mashburn [who actually suffered a season-ending injury about 18 games into 1996]). Can you even imagine rooting for the Mavs right in the middle of that awful decade? I can't, in all honesty.
*As a math major I have to note that they have every even number between 20 and 28 wins, inclusive, like they were playing a drinking game of mediocrity. The Mavs were 239-549 (.303) for the decade, a .303 winning percentage, which comes out to about a 25-win season, on average. Damn.
But to their credit, the Mavericks filled legendary Reunion Arena with dedicated supporters for their awful team. For the early regular season game we'll be covering, no fewer than five world-class athletes showed up. All - as I understand it - are top 10 all-time at their positions: Roger Staubach (former Cowboys QB), Michael Johnson (sprinter), Michael Irvin (wide reciever), Emmitt Smith (running back), and Deion Sanders (cornerback).* And even the Fucking Mayor of Dallas. Wow! All of them showed up to root their home team on (if they don't win, it's a shame!). The likes of Deion Sanders saw the high-flying trio of young Mavs' stars: sophomore PG star Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson at his absolute peak, and the always-sizzling Jamal Mashburn. Or, as they called themselves, Triple J (sounds like a radio station)!
*Missing were Nolan Ryan, Future Dirk Nowitzki, Tom Landry, and Holger Geschwinder.
It was obvious just from watching that Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and the rest of the 1996 Chicago Bulls had a heck of a time mentally coping with the powerful support (ecstatic at times) for the good old 1996 Dallas Mavericks in the legendary Reunion Arena. And Triple J didn't disappoint, combining for an amazing 64 points on just 64 shots!