Dallas Mavericks: Scottie Pippen
It took Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki nearly a dozen years to raise the Dallas Mavericks from the ashes of the 1990s to the pinnacle of the NBA as champions.
Just 13 months later, a nearly complete dismantling of the title team has created one of the swiftest falls from grace in league history. In 1998-99, the Chicago Bulls, having moved on from Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, followed a second three-peat with a 13-37 record in the lockout-shortened season.
The Mavs' downward spiral is most similar to that, ironically, of the 2006 Miami Heat, the Dwyane Wade-led team that rallied from an 0-2 hole to beat Avery Johnson's squad. The next year the Heat finished a mediocre 44-38 and were swept out of the first round of the playoffs. The Mavs ended this lockout-shortened, 66-game schedule at 36-30 and were swept in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The following year, the Heat won 15 games. It would be a stretch to think the Mavs will crater to such depths next season, but with a roster now in full rebuild mode -- and one that will not include Jason Terry or Jason Kidd or Deron Williams, for that matter -- Dallas could face a long, hard climb to extend the franchise's record 12-year playoff run.
So where has everybody gone from the title team that partied deep into the South Beach morning last June?
Let's take a look.
Still around: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood, Rodrigue Beauobois, Dominique Jones
Coming back?: Ian Mahinmi (unsigned free agent), Brian Cardinal (unsigned free agent)
Long gone: Tyson Chandler (signed as free agent in 2011 with New York), J.J. Barea (signed as free agent in 2011 with Minnesota); Caron Butler (signed as free agent in 2011 with L.A. Clippers), Corey Brewer (traded in 2011 to Denver), DeShawn Stevenson (signed as free agent in 2011 with New Jersey, traded to Atlanta), Peja Stojakovic (retired)
All but gone: Jason Terry (agreed to terms this week with Boston), Jason Kidd (agreed to terms this week with New York).
* The defeat ends a Dallas run of six successive home victories over San Antonio in the regular season and postseason.
* Tim Duncan’s 17 rebounds are tied with Portland’s Marcus Camby and Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace for the single-game league high so far in the 2010 playoffs.
*With 25 points to go with those 17 boards, Duncan recorded his 29th career 25-point, 15-board game in the playoffs, which is No. 2 among active players behind Cleveland’s Shaquille O’Neal.
*In Game 1, San Antonio racked up 17 turnovers and was called for 28 fouls. In Game 2? Nine and 15, respectively.
* With 24 more assists this postseason, Mavericks guard Jason Kidd (1,039) will pass Scottie Pippen (1,048) and Larry Bird (1,062) to move into third all-time for most career assists in the playoffs. Magic Johnson is No. 1 with 2,346 assists in 190 career playoff games, followed by John Stockton’s 1,839 assists in 182 playoff games.
* In Game 1, Dirk Nowitzki shot 10-for-12 from the field on shots from 6 feet out or longer. In Game 2, Nowitzki was 5-for-17 from that range.
Kidd has a chance to bolt up to No. 4. He'll pass Pippen with one steal and he'll leap Maurice Cheeks (2,310) with four. It's possible. Kidd has had at least four steals 10 times in a game this season and twice in the past six games.
Fourth might be as high as he can get. Gary Payton is third with 2,445, Michael Jordaon is second with 2,514 and John Stockton is in a completely different stratosphere with 3,265.
*L.A. Times reports Lakers center Andrew Bynum was fined $25,000 by the league for ripping the refs after the Mavs' 101-96 win Wednesday. Bynum said Lakers played "five against eight." Both teams were whistled for 20 fouls, but Mavs shot 10 more free throws.
*The Mavs are going for a season-best six-game win streak, which would be the longest in two seasons.
*A road win at Atlanta would give the Mavs 19 road wins, one more than all of last season.
*From the Elias Sports Bureau: Tonight's meeting marks the first time the Mavs (37-21) and the Hawks (36-20) have met when both teams entered the game at least 15 games over .500 since March 29, 1988. Then Atlanta (41-26) defeated Dallas (46-22), 120-106. Dominique Wilkens scored 40 points and Doc Rivers had 17 assists for the Hawks.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.