Nostalgia glasses aside, the 2003-04 Dallas Mavericks are potentially the most talented Mavs team of the past 20 years. Let’s take a look back in time at a high powered offensive juggernaut that underperformed.
Fresh off a successful 60-22 record and an appearance against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals in the 02-03 season, the Dallas Mavericks had their sights high for the next year.
Dirk Nowitzki was still only 25 and heading into his prime along with veteran and leader of the team, 30-year-old Michael Finley. The number one offense in the league was run by future hall of fame point guard, Steve Nash.
On paper, the roster was stacked with shooters and players that could fit into Don Nelson‘s, “Nellie Ball.” So let’s go back in time to review why this team had the potential for greatness and how it resulted in a disappointing first-round knockout by the Sacramento Kings.
The Acquisition of Antoine and Antawn
Before the world of Twitter and Reddit, it was a little more difficult to get breaking news. Pulling up the Dallas Morning News, “Sports Day” section and seeing the article about a blockbuster trade that sent forward Antawn Jamison to the Dallas Mavericks was one of the more exciting times for the Mavericks in the summer of 2003.
After a failed attempt at bringing Alonzo Mourning to the Dallas Mavericks the prior month and desperate to upgrade the roster, the Mavs pulled the trigger and sent Nick Van Exel and others to Golden State to receive Antawn Jamison. Later in the fall, the Mavericks acquired forward Antoine Walker from the Celtics for failed experiment Raef LaFrentz at center and a future first-round pick.
Walker had been with the Celtics for seven seasons and made three all-star appearances. He was known as a stretch four that had placed number one in three-point field goal attempts three times in the three seasons leading up to the Dallas Mavericks. The downside to that is that he had also been known to have a bad shot selection. Running the offense through Antoine Walker was a double-edged sword.
The other Antawn that was acquired was coming off of a 22-point-per-game season for the Golden State Warriors. The plan after the Walker trade was to bring Antawn Jamison off the bench to provide depth scoring.
Jamison went on to do exactly that and win the Sixth Man of the Year award. Unfortunately, both of them were never known to be good on the defensive end. After one season in Dallas, Jamison was dealt to the Wizards and Walker was shipped off to the Hawks.
Both of these moves were the start of a string of trades and moves that built the championship team in 2011 by bringing Jason Terry to the Mavericks.
Next: Dirty, Nasty, Filthy