The Dallas Mavericks had some epic battles against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Here is a look at the mark the legend made on Mark Cuban’s franchise.
The Dallas Mavericks grew to fear Kobe Bryant during his 20 seasons with the Lakers. He had a plethora of vintage performances against the Mavs. Fans vividly remember Bryant leading the Lakers on a historic comeback in 2002. Los Angeles trailed by 27 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter and still managed to grab a win.
In 2005, Bryant annihilated the Mavericks by scoring 62 points in three quarters. Dallas only mustered 61. Bryant single-handedly demolished the helpless Mavs.
The 2011 second round playoff series was the end of the Phil Jackson era in Los Angeles, and it came at the hands of the Mavericks. Dallas fell behind by 16 points in the second half of Game 1 of that series but went on a furious second half rally that ended with Bryant missing an open 3-pointer from the right elbow which would’ve won the game.
Kobe infamously said in a press conference after the Mavs won Game 3 to take a three to zero series lead, “Call me crazy, but I still think we’re going to win this series.” Not one Mavs fan slept a wink that night.
Trade for Kobe?
After the Mavs closed out the Lakers en route to their first championship, it emerged that the Mavericks nearly traded for Bryant in 2007. The deal that would have sent draft picks, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard to the Lakers for Bryant and at least one contract they wanted to dump.
NBA history would have been altered forever had two of the NBA’s top six all-time leading scorers been paired together in the prime of their careers. Once the deal fell through, Kobe went on to win two more championships with the Lakers and make it back to the postseason four more times.
Bryant’s personality seemed to work against a team like the Mavs, who were led by the loudest and most obnoxious owner in the NBA.
Dirk vs. Kobe
In countless matchups between Dirk and Kobe, Bryant would drill one of his absurd off-balance one-legged missiles and stare down Mark Cuban, who’d often snarl back with a few choice words of his own.
Bryant’s unparalleled competitiveness was like theater against the Mavericks. The Lakers, the NBA’s most iconic brand, faced a fledgling, budding franchise with a fire-breathing owner who’d assemble a team just good enough to make Kobe Bryant have to remind the Mavs who the boss was.
Then came 2011, when the Mavericks swept Goliath and shelled 20 3-pointers on Bryant’s stunned Lakers in Game 4. Los Angeles never got back to the Finals and Bryant’s career gradually faded. He missed large parts of various seasons with injury and attrition. Kobe went on a classic rock band-style farewell tour during his last season.
When Dirk Nowitzki‘s contract expired, Bryant reportedly recruited Nowitzki to the Lakers. Dirk had a max contract waiting in LA but decided to stay in Dallas.
Kobe Bryant had quite a blast when playing the Mavs. He single-handedly undressed Mark Cuban’s team four times a year. Dirk Nowitzki arguably never faced a better opponent and said he would often watch Bryant’s games after playing his own. Bryant notched 33,643 points in his career, 1,441 of which came against Dallas.
Cuban will still shout profanities at officials and players like there’s no tomorrow, but he had a special mouth set for Bryant.