Mavs Barely Escape Infamy
Dallas banked its future on young players, not the least of whom was Jim Jackson, selected by the Mavericks with the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. But Jackson and owner Don Carter could not agree on contract terms, resulting in a prolonged holdout that kept Jackson off the team for more than half the season.
Won 11, lost 71 (sixth, Midwest)…their worst record ever (previous mark was 15-67 in the 1980-1981 charter season)…the Mavericks were 7-14 over their final 21 games. Dallas started the season 0-29 on the road, but rallied to win four of their last 12 games away from Reunion Arena. Jim Jackson joined Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning as the only rookies with streaks of seven or more consecutive games with 20-plus points. Overall, six of Dallas’ 11 wins came against clubs which finished the season with winning records. On March 4, the Mavericks introduced 10-year NBA veteran Quinn Buckner as head coach beginning at the end of the 1992-1993 season. Gar Heard served as interim coach following the dismissal of Richie Adubato on January 13. The Mavericks used a club-record 28 starting lineups (breaking the club record of 18 in 1991-1992).
With its veterans gone and its young players yet to arrive, Dallas simply did not have the talent or experience to be competitive in the NBA in 1992-1993. After a run of successful draft picks in the early years of the franchise, the Mavericks had hit a slump in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Top 10 selections such as Doug Smith and Randy White, while competent NBA players, did not become the superstars many had predicted they would be.
So, with a roster depleted by trades, injuries, and a contract dispute, the Mavericks stumbled through the 1992-1993 season. It was a nightmarish campaign, with losing streaks of 12, 15, and 19 games. On January 13, with the Mavs' record at 2-27, Richie Adubato was fired as coach and replaced by Assistant Coach Gar Heard. Heard won his first game six days later, snapping a 15-game losing streak.
As the season wound down, suspense built as the Mavericks came dangerously close to posting the worst record in league history. The yardstick was the 9-73 mark turned in by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73; after 61 games Dallas stood at 4-57.
However, the signing of Jackson on March 3, coupled with the announcement that Quinn Buckner would take over as coach the next season, gave the team the emotional boost necessary to avoid infamy. Jackson appeared in the Mavericks' last 28 games, averaging 16.3 points. In the final 21 contests he helped the team to a 7-14 record, including two straight victories to close out the year and finish at 11-71.
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