The Atlanta Braves won just one World Series (1995) in a run of 14 postseason appearances from 1991 to 2005. The Chicago Bears won just one Super Bowl (1985) despite a defense that changed the game, arguably the greatest two-way back in NFL history (Walter Payton) and swagger unsurpassed in any sport, by anyone, at any time.
And now, joining those underachievers among sports’ memorable one-and-done champions, we have the 2011 Dallas Mavericks.
With the surprising news Thursday afternoon that veteran point guard Jason Kidd was leaving Dallas to sign with the New York Knicks, that Mavericks team is officially over. There will be no retooling, not with Kidd gone, Jason Terry off to Boston, Tyson Chandler winning hardware for his defensive work in New York and Deron Williams sticking with the Nets for their move to Brooklyn.
Williams was the addition that was going to revive the Mavericks’ title hopes – and possibly lure Dwight Howard to town. Now those hopes have been doused and, fact is, the Mavericks themselves filled the water bucket.
Not since the 1998 Chicago Bulls broke up its golden core of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and coach Phil Jackson has a defending champion so surrendered with a “No mas” fit for Robert Duran. If Dallas wasn’t built to be a one-and-done champ, owner Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson sure behaved that way.
They blinked at Chandler’s market value, enabling him to escape to New York. They disregarded 2011-12 as some sort of asterisk season – even if it was the one in which they actually received their rings – to keep their options open for this summer and beyond.
How’s that working out for them?
Williams, a Dallas native, told them thanks but no thanks. Terry opted for the Celtics, a group that so far only has won once (2008) but at least hasn’t put itself in the one-and-done pickle. Steve Nash not only didn’t come back from Phoenix, he left for the hated Lakers and slid into the trade-exception slot created when the Mavericks (doh!) dealt for disappointing Lamar Odom.
Now it’s Kidd leaving Dirk Nowitzki behind with a roster that has more than a few has-beens and not-yets. And while the veteran playmaker’s decision caught many by surprise, he might have given some hint of his intentions when he talked earlier about Williams’ motives in sticking with Brooklyn, as ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan wrote:
“Honestly, it came down to the roster,” Kidd said. “Brooklyn made moves that improved the roster dramatically, and he saw things were going that way. That would be my opinion from looking on the outside. He felt that if Dirk goes down he’s sitting with himself.”
It also didn’t hurt the Nets’ cause that they could offer Williams a five-year deal for $98 million while the new collective bargaining agreement limited the Mavs’ offer to four years and about $75 million.
“From my point of view, I would say it’s not about the money,” Kidd said. “He wants to win. He’s been losing. He’s been getting his teeth kicked in the last couple of years.”
So going to Dallas as one of the top three point guards in the NBA still might have resulted in Williams getting his “teeth kicked in” some more, in Kidd’s view. Then it’s little wonder how Kidd felt about the Mavs’ short-term prospects without the Nets guard.
From the look of it now, there is no short-term in Dallas. Only a long-term that might feel really long.