The Dallas Mavericks franchise was first conceptualized by Don Carter and Norm Sonju in 1979, when they requested the right to bring an NBA franchise to Dallas, Texas. The last professional basketball team in Dallas had been the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association, which moved to San Antonio in 1973 and became the San Antonio Spurs.
At the 1980 NBA All-Star Game, league owners voted to admit the new franchise, and the Mavericks paid a $12 million entry fee to join the NBA for the 1980-1981 season.
They joined the Midwest Division of the Western Conference, where they would remain until the league went to six divisions for the 2004-05 season. Dick Motta, who had guided the Washington Bullets to the NBA Championship in 1977-78, was hired as the team's first head coach. He had a well-earned reputation of being a stern disciplinarian, but was also a great teacher of the game.
Kiki Vandeweghe of UCLA was drafted by the Mavs with the 11th pick of the 1980 NBA Draft, but Vandeweghe refused to play for the expansion Mavericks and staged a holdout that lasted a month into the team's inaugural season. He was traded to the Denver Nuggets, along with a first-round pick in 1986, in exchange for two future first-round picks that eventually materialized into Rolando Blackman in 1981 and Sam Perkins in 1984.
In the Mavericks' debut game, taking place in the brand-new Reunion Arena, the Mavericks stunned the Spurs, 103-92. But the Mavs started the season with a discouraging 6-40 record on their way to finishing 15-67. However, the Mavericks did make a player acquisition that, while it seemed minor at the time, turned out to play a very important role in the early years of their franchise. Journeyman 6'3" guard Brad Davis, who played for the Anchorage Northern Knights of the Continental Basketball Association, was tracked down and signed by the Mavs in December. At the time, there was absolutely no reason to expect that Davis would be any better than the expansion-level talent the Mavs had. But he started the Mavs' final 26 games, led the team in assists, and his career soared. He spent the next twelve years with the Mavericks, and eventually his #15 jersey was retired.
The 1981 NBA Draft brought three players who would become vital parts of the team. The Mavs selected 6'6" forward Mark Aguirre with the first pick, 6'6" guard Rolando Blackman 9th, and 6'7" forward Jay Vincent 24th. By the end of his seven-year Mavs career, Aguirre would average 24.6 points per game. Blackman contributed 19.2 points over his 11-year career in Dallas.
But it was Jay Vincent who made the biggest difference for the Mavs in their second season, leading the team in scoring with 21.4 points per game and earning NBA All-Rookie Team honors. The Mavericks improved to 28-54, getting out of the Midwest Division cellar as they finished above the Utah Jazz.
History | 1980-1981 | 1981-1982 | 1982-1983 | 1983-1984 | 1984-1985 | 1985-1986 | 1986-1987 | 1987-1988 | 1988-1989 | 1989-1990 | 1990-1991 | 1991-1992 | 1992-1993 | 1993-1994 | 1994-1995 | 1995-1996 | 1996-1997 | 1997-1998 | 1998-1999 | 1999-2000 | 2000-2001 | 2001-2002 | 2002-2003 | 2003-2004 | 2004-2005 | 2005-2006 | 2006-2007 | 2007-2008 | 2008-2009 | 2009-2010 | 2010-2011 | 2011-2012 |