Ten Questions With...Austin Carr
Austin Carr was selected by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1980 NBA expansion draft. Taken from the roster of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Carr (a 9-year veteran at the time) became one of the original Dallas Mavericks players. Although his Mavericks career lasted only eight games, Carr was there from the beginning and took time to talk with Randy Krone about those early days in the history of the Dallas Mavericks.
- In the summer of 1980, did you have any idea the Cavaliers would expose you to the expansion draft?
Not at first. I had just signed a new deal with Cleveland and then they told me they wanted to protect some younger players because they (Dallas) wouldn't pick me up at my age and then I end up being the first player they take. I felt it was kind of underhanded but I guess that's how it goes.
- What were your initial thoughts when you heard Dallas had taken you?
Because I had come to the Cavaliers at such an early stage in their existence, I knew what was about to happen and what I was dealing with. It didn't really bother me but I wanted to find out who I was playing with. I think that may be the one mistake the organization made early on - they got the players before they had a coach. Because when Dick Motta got here, he got rid of almost everyone...I was the last player they got rid of.
- Did you hear from anybody in the organization after the draft?
I talked to Rick Sund and Norm Sonju. Because there was a big Notre Dame contingent here in Dallas I really began feeling comfortable. I talked to quite a few of the Notre Dame alumni and after talking to them, and to team management, I began feeling much more comfortable with the situation.
- Things weren't all that advanced for the Mavericks organization in 1980. The first training camp was held in the gym of the Royal Haven Baptist Church. What did you think when you showed up for that camp?
(Laughing) The first thing I thought was 'WOW, this is expansion.' That was about it. Mr. Carter owned the team then and he was up front with everyone. He was a first class guy. They were talking about the new arena and all that was to come. I was hoping, and praying, that things would work out here but unfortunately they didn't.
- Were you told what your role on the team was projected to be?
No, we didn't discuss anything like that. Coach Motta's mindset, when he got here, was that he was going to get his own guys and, I think, they went right into trying to get rid of all of us. That's just how I felt the whole thing was going down. He didn't want the 25 players they brought in here so he was going to go out and get his own players.
- As you look back on that camp, what are your thoughts on Dick Motta's comment, "I have four types of players here: players with bad contracts, players with bad injuries, players with bad attitudes or bad players?"
Because I had been around different guys that had played for Coach Motta, I kind of had an idea of what person he was. I was probably the player he was talking about with bad injuries. I was one of the ones he was talking about. But, I kind of knew what he was like. He was a tough guy and was like the coach I had played for the previous nine seasons, Bill Fitch.
- You had played your entire career in Cleveland for Head Coach Bill Fitch. In the time you were here, how did he differ from Dick Motta?
They were similar in that they were very demanding. They knew what it took to win and knew what it took to win. They demanded excellence and I had no problem with that. There was definitely a 'my way or the highway' attitude.
- You only appeared in eight games for Dallas - did you have an idea of how that season was going to play out?
I knew from what I went through in Cleveland the first year, what it was going to be like. What happened was we had 25 players in that first camp and only Bingo Smith and myself had ever played together. We had to get used to each other and what happens in those situations is that you got players who maybe don't have a contract or are trying to get a contract and they can become individualists instead of team guys. That's was our biggest problem, we had too many of that type of player. There wasn't enough time for us to gel as a team because it was like a make-shift situation. We had to get it going, get it together and get ready for the season. That's tough to do when you've got guys coming from all different situations. Some have never played and now they think this is their chance. There are other guys looking to get a contract. There was just so much to overcome. It was tough but I had gone through it before so I knew what to expect.
- At that point in your career, were you prepared to go back to square one and try to build something with an expansion team?
No. I wasn't prepared for that, I really wasn't. At that point in my career, I had had too many knee operations and I really wasn't prepared to come out and start from scratch again. In some ways, the trade to Washington helped me but unfortunately I ended up having another knee operation. As I said, I was one of the ones Coach Motta was talking about when he talked of the guys with injury problems.
- Prior to your trade to the Washington Bullets, had you asked to be traded or was it a team decision?
No, it was a matter of purging the roster. I never asked to be traded. As a matter of fact, we were on our way to play against Washington when I got traded and I ended up playing against my teammates that night. Mr. Carter was a great owner and I had no negative thoughts at all. I was actually looking forward to spending time here.