This series of articles will celebrate (or laugh at) some of the worst professional sports teams of all time. I will focus on teams within my lifetime so expect the worst from the 1970s to present day.
Most people know the Dallas Mavericks for their NBA Championship in 2011, and outgoing owner Mark Cuban. But back in the early 90s, the Mavs were owned by an old cowboy, Donald Carter, and were one of the most invisible franchises in all of sport.
The Mavericks did show potential in the 1987-88 season, making it to the Western Conference Finals, before losing in 7 games to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. Fast forward 5 years later, and the Mavericks were simply horrific.
How bad were the Mavericks in 92-93? They had a 12 game losing streak early in the season, and that was their third longest losing streak in the season. Just before Christmas, the Mavs lost 15 in a row. To top that, the Mavericks had a 19 game losing streak in spanning February and March. The Mavs went 1-19 in February and had a stretch where they only won 1 out of 27 games. To say this team was putrid, would be very kind to this hopeless squad. This is a team that lost by 48 points to a mediocre Sacramento Kings side just before the new year. Beyond pathetic.
The Mavericks gave up an average of 114.5 points per game, by far the worst in the NBA that season. The French Army served up a better defence in World War II than the Mavs in 92-93. To counter that, the Mavs were second last in offence, averaging only 99.3 points per game. The Mavs only shot 43.5% from the field while opponents shot 50.5%. In other words, the Mavs couldn’t hit the side of the barn, while opponents were dunking basketballs, like coffee shop regulars dunk their doughnuts into their coffee.
Veteran head coach Richie Adubato only lasted 29 games, before he was mercifully let go. Adubato only won 2 of those 29 games he coached in 92-93. His replacement, Gar Heard didn’t fare much better, going 9-44 the rest of the way. In total the Mavs went 11-71 for the season.
Yes the Mavs were hit hard by the injury bug that season. Centre Donald Hodge played in 79 out of 82 games, the most for Dallas in 92-93. The problem is that Hodge only averaged 5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. For a centre, those numbers are simply vile.
First round draft pick Jim Jackson only played in 28 games before succumbing to a season ending knee injury. In the games he played, Jackson averaged 16.3 points per game and did show some promise in the Mavericks backcourt.
Veteran point guard Derek Harper led the team in scoring, averaging 18.2 points per game, despite missing 20 games due to injury issues. Harper was traded to the New York Knicks, midway in the 1993-94 season.
Second round pick Sean Rooks did show potential, averaging 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 72 games for the Mavericks. However, his weight became an issue as Rooks started going for extra helpings at the buffet table, which hurt his NBA career in the long-term.
The Mavs thought they could bring back troubled power forward Roy Tarpley into the lineup. However, his drug addiction was so ferocious, he didn’t play a single game in the 92-93 season. Tarpley was eventually banned for life by the NBA for his addiction issues.
Mr. Carter, who had owned the team since its inception in 1980, was still a regular at Reunion Arena, despite the team’s ineptitude. Yet, many Dallas citizens were distracted by another sports team. Dallas was firmly gripped with the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl that season. Since the Cowboys are by far and away, the lead team in Dallas, the fans didn’t notice, or didn’t care too much about the Mavericks woes.
Carter sold the team to H Ross Perot Jr in 1996, while still maintaining a minority interest. Perot then sold the team to Mark Cuban in 2000, which was the turning point for the franchise. Under Cuban’s ownership, the Mavericks improved dramatically, becoming a perennial playoff contender. Cuban’s dream was realized in 2011, when the Mavericks finally won the NBA Championship. It was a long road for Mavericks’ fans who had to watch one of the worst teams in sports history, before they saw a champion.
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