We started this little flashback column to help us deal with the devastatingly chilly fallout of the NBA Nuclear Winter. The good news is that this is the last one because the NBA is coming back on X-Mas day. Just as we did last week, we got help from the Mavs site created by the great Patricia Bender.
Dec. 2 is a particularly eventful day in Mavs history. It’s littered with brilliant performances from names like Mark Aguirre and Jason Kidd, great honors for folks like Don Nelson and Steve Nash, and sadly also includes yet another tragic turn for Leon Smith. But two things jump out and grab me as fantastic moments in Mavericks history.
In 2004, we were treated to an epic scorers’ duel between Dirk Nowitzki and then-Houston Rocket Tracy McGrady that felt like one of those great 80s battles between the elite scoring forwards of that decade. McGrady was unstoppable, draining 3s from all over the floor -- pulling up and bombing off the dribble no matter how tightly contested -- en route to 48 in an overtime loss. That’s right, the ROX took the L because Dirk was even better, dropping 53 and grabbing 16 boards in front of a primetime national audience on a Thursday night TNT joint the Mavs won 113-106. It was one of the most entertaining Mavericks games of the decade.
But I also wanted to note that on Dec. 2 of their inaugural season, Dallas signed former Lakers first-round pick Brad Davis. Davis had bounced around the League and spent time in the CBA and was on the verge of retiring when he gave pro basketball and the Mavericks one last chance. He went on to become one of the best guards in team history and the first player to have his jersey retired.
When I think of Davis’ playing days the images that flood my mind include:
1. Davis taking violently vicious charges
2. Catching and shooting that crank behind his head and fling jumper after Aguirre passed out of double teams
3. The chomping of that gum being exaggerated due to the wicked mustache game he was throwing down
4. That Toyota commercial in which he unleashed the Camry Jam and Corolla Rolla dunks on an 8’ goal
5. That perm, yo!
Some so-called Mavs fans that either don’t know any better, weren’t old enough to remember, or just plain weren’t paying attention at the time view Davis as some sort of Bill Bates hustle type that was only out there cuz he played really hard and set a good example. They think that it’s somewhat shameful that his number is retired.
Those people are just wrong. Davis was a baller.
About a month ago, FSSW re-aired the classic Moody Madness game and it was great to watch it for a number of reasons, but I really dug watching Brad’s game again. He did for the Mavs during that era what Mo Cheeks was doing for Philly. He ran the show and orchestrated the offense. And he made perfect entry passes to Aguirre who was just devastating on the block.
Ask Derek Harper how difficult Davis was to play against. He went against him every day in practice and has enormous respect for his game.
“And if you don’t know, now you know …”