1980-1981

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The Inaugural Season

Won 15, lost 67 (sixth, Midwest);Jim Spanarkel (14.4 points) and Tom LaGarde (8.1 rebounds) were statistical leaders and only players to see action in all 82 games; Abdul Jeelani scored the first points in club history; 47 of the Mavericks 82 games were decided by 10 or fewer points and Dallas set a NBA home attendance record for an expansion team. May 1st, 1980, when it all began..... Owner Don Carter President/GM Norm Sonju and Doug Adkins will forever be known as the founding fathers of Dallas' first NBA franchise. The Mavericks were born, and they were here to stay. Before the Mavericks, there were the Dallas Chaparrals of the old American Basketball Association (ABA). They started in 1967 but never really captured the city's heart during their tenure. In 1976 they moved to San Antonio and became the Spurs, one of four teams from the ABA to join the NBA during the merger. So it would only be appropriate for the Mavericks to face the Spurs in the franchise's first ever regular season game... In the 35th anniversary of the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks joined the Western Conference's Midwest Division as the 23rd team in the league. The 1980-81 Mavericks opened the season in the brand-new $27 million Reunion Arena. During the expansion draft, Dallas decided to build its future on younger talent and passed up on proven veterans such as "Pistol" Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, Rick Barry and Doug Collins. Instead they chose players like Jerome Whitehead, Jim Spanarkel, Tom LaGarde, Geoff Huston, Abdul Jeelani and Winford Boynes. They also chose UCLA's Kiki Vandeweghe as their first ever draft choice in 1980 with the 11th pick, however Vandeweghe would refuse to play for the expansion Mavericks and held out for more than a month into the new season. Dallas eventually traded him to the Denver Nuggets for two future first round draft picks. One of those picks would turn out to be one of the best picks in franchise history so everything seemed to work out for the best... Dick Motta became the first head coach for the Mavericks. Motta was one of the finest coaches in the NBA and had enjoyed past success with teams like the Chicago Bulls and Washington Bullets. He quickly turned the Bulls into winners in 1970-71 and eventually won an NBA World Championship with the Bullets in 1977-78... On October 11, 1980 before a crowd of more than 10,000 people, which happened to be on the same day of the famous Texas-OU rival football game at the Cotton Bowl, the Mavericks played and won their first regular season game ever defeating George "Ice Man" Gervin and the San Antonio Spurs, 103-92. Boynes led all Dallas scorers with 21 points and LaGarde added 19 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. This game also marked a bunch of firsts for the Mavs at Reunion Arena, including first assist, first slam dunk, first steal, and probably most importantly the first win;;. In early December, the Mavericks signed Brad Davis. Davis had played for the CBA previously and he would become a vital piece of the puzzle for the Mavericks in the 1980s. Davis had planned on retirement from basketball to focus more on his education.  Instead he played in the last 56 games of the season and started in the last 26 of them... For most of the season, the Mavericks struggled to gain wins. After 63 games, they stood at 8-55 before they broke a 15 game losing streak with a win over the New Jersey Nets, 132-109. The 23-point win was the biggest of the season for the Mavericks. Their final record was 15-67... "This is the best group of pros I've ever worked with. I don't think in 20 years I'll be able to look back and say I've ever had a better bunch. None of you knew you belonged before this season started, and now that you know you do, you have a reason to be proud of yourselves." - Head Coach Dick Motta


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