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Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Historic 50-win run missing something

By Tim MacMahon

The Mavs’ historic streak of 50-win seasons, which will be extended with their next victory, comes with a painful reminder.

There hasn’t been a championship parade in downtown Dallas during the last decade.

With a win in Memphis tonight, the Mavs will move their 50-win season streak to double digits. To put that achievement into perspective, consider that it’s only happened three times in NBA history.

Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers won five titles during their 12-season run of 50-win campaigns from 1979-80 to ’90-91. Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics won eight titles during their 10-season run from 1958-59 to ’67-68. Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs’ active 10-season run, which is in serious jeopardy of ending, featured three championships plus another in the lockout-shortened previous season.

“It’s definitely a fun accomplishment, but I’d rather have a ring and have one 50-win season,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “I’d rather trade that all, but unfortunately I can’t.”

Nevertheless, the streak is a source of tremendous pride, particularly for the men who have been part of it since the beginning. That’s not a long list.

Nowitzki is the only player who has been a constant on the roster during the run, which has spanned three head coaches. Owner Mark Cuban, president of basketball operations and a handful of front office members and assistant coaches have also stuck around from the start.

The fact that this streak started immediately after the Mavs had 10 consecutive losing campaigns – and in Cuban’s first full season as an owner -- makes it even more amazing.

“It means Dirk’s a great player, we’ve been able to surround him with some great players, and I’ve been willing to lose a [beep]load of money,” Cuban said.

Cuban becomes sarcastic and defensive when the lack of championships is mentioned, snapping that he prefers it this way because it makes the Mavs unique among their historical peers. He avoids commenting on the subject of the 2006 Finals these days, but you’ll never be able to convince Cuban that the Mavs weren’t robbed of that championship by poor (or worse, crooked) refereeing.

Yet Cuban also believes the Mavs’ window of opportunity will be open for several more years, with the expectations that Dirk has a lot of elite basketball left in him and the front office will continue to find ways to surround him with a solid core.

“Hopefully we’re going to keep it going for many more years and have many more shots,” Cuban said.

The Mavs 50-win run puts them in the company of basketball royalty, but they're determined to join the less exclusive club of NBA champions. The Mavs are a proud franchise, but far from satisfied.