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Top 5 Mavs moments of 2018


2018. What a year for the Dallas Mavericks. From finishing the 2017-2018 campaign with a disappointing season to hitting the lottery by drafting the future of their franchise, you could call this a rollercoaster ride of a year for Dallas, with a very bright light at the end of the tunnel. Dylan Duell and myself tackled the top five moments for the Mavericks during 2018.

5. Derek Harper’s Jersey Retirement

For the longest time, only Brad Davis’ #15 and Rolando Blackman’s #22 Mavericks jersey hung from the AAC rafters.  Fans had been discussing and debating whose should be next and all of that was finally put to bed back in early January 2018 when Dallas honored longtime guard and now broadcaster Derek Harper by retiring his #12 jersey.

Some of the emotional highlights of the ceremony included the then 86 year-old former Mavs coach Dick Motta speaking and proclaiming he would have “crawled” from Iowa to attend Harper’s jersey retirement ceremony.

Who knows whose jersey will go to the rafters next, but Harper’s being up there now is justified and appreciated by several generations of Mavs fans who can appreciate him both as a player and broadcaster.

4. Dennis Smith Jr. closes out an epic home opener

There is always a special feeling for a home opener in any sport.  The entire team is introduced. The stands are totally packed. Usually, a pretty good game is to follow.  The 2018-2019 home opener for the Mavs was an excellent example.

While the magic of Luka Doncic wasn’t exactly clear from the regular season opener in Phoenix a few nights earlier, Doncic scored just 10 points on 5-16 shooting, he showed up for Mavs fans that night.  The rookie led the Mavs with 26 points while shooting 6-9 from beyond the arc.

Back when the entire league was scoring at an insane pace to start the season, this Timberwolves/Mavericks tilt was no different.  The two teams went back and forth all night by trading run and run to seemingly give one team a clear edge. Dallas would eventually get ahead for good and their closing of this game was highlighted by a tough falling back jumper by Dennis Smith Jr. in the waning seconds of the game.

3. Luka-Magic against the Rockets

It’s hard to debate there being another on-court moment creating more buzz around the NBA from the Mavericks this entire year.  We all remember the situation:

December 8th.  Mavs vs Rockets.  The Mavs bring up the ball down 102-94 with three minutes remaining in the 4th quarter.  Then this happens:

Two stepback three pointers and a soft floater in the lane to single handedly erase an eight-point deficit by a 19-year-old rookie? It’s hard to remember a more electrifying moment during a game in the last several years for the Mavericks.

We’ve seen more fireworks from Luka since then with a couple games with over 30 points and his insane game-tying, buzzer-beating three in Portland, but this moment helped the Mavericks steal a win on their homecourt and the made the basketball world go crazy for Luka more than ever.

2. Dirk’s 21st season as a Maverick

21 seasons with one franchise. That’s a record. And that record belongs to Dirk Nowitzki. Who would have thought, coming over from Germany as a 20-year-old kid with a raw, yet promising skillset that he would become not only the face of the franchise, but the face of Dallas sports as a whole and become a transcendent basketball player in this league and of all-time? I think that answer is no one, not even Dirk would have imagined his career shaping out this way. Maybe, just maybe Holger had a feeling but I doubt it.

But, it has. And he’s back for what is looking to be his last season. Now, we don’t know that for fact because Dirk has said that he isn’t looking for any kind of farewell tour when he does decide to hang it up but it just has that feeling that season no. 21 will be his last.

It’s a very bittersweet feeling. Bitter, knowing that the face of this franchise and the man who stuck out all the tough, disappointing playoff losses to bring the Mavericks and this fan base to the mountain top, might be saying goodbye. But, sweet, knowing that Dirk gave every ounce of his being to this team and to his craft to be the best player he could possibly be. And, knowing that we someone for Dirk to hand the keys to doesn’t hurt either (we’ll get to that next).

After battling through his achilles injury throughout training camp and the first few months of the season, #41 is finally back on the floor for the Mavs in a bench role that he and the team are diligently working to become comfortable with. It’s evident that he is moving better and better each and every game and there’s nothing more that Mavs fans could ask for to begin 2019 is with a healthy Dirk with some flashes of old in the second half of the season.

1. Drafting Luka

First off, I’d like to take a second to thank the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, and most importantly, the Atlanta Hawks. Talk about hitting the lottery. I mean, seriously.

Drafting Luka Doncic has been an absolute Godsend to this franchise and this city. The skeptics are always out there on European players, but Luka just seemed different from the jump. And let’s be honest here, Donnie Nelson was the one who was keen on Dirk when he was in the draft so if Donnie loved Luka during the draft process, it was to be trusted.

Luka has been nothing short of amazing for Dallas through the first few months of the season. He hit the ground running and hasn’t slowed down a bit, from throwing slick, fancy passes to hitting clutch free throws to nailing game-winning shots; this kid is incredible.

He has taken this team and the league by storm with his impressive play as a rookie, even receiving praise game after game from his opponents by the likes of James Harden, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, and his idol, LeBron James, who mentioned Doncic in a list of players he’d like to play with.

As Michael Jordan once said speaking to the crowd at a North Carolina basketball game, “the ceiling is the roof.” Well, Mike, if the ceiling is in fact the roof, Luka has blown through the roof in just a matter of 33 games. The ceiling for this kid doesn’t seem to exist.

Happy New Year to all from the Dallas Sports Fanatic staff and let’s all wish for more Luka-Magic and good fortune for the Mavericks in 2019.

Managing Editor for Dallas Sports Fanatic | Lead Editor covering the Dallas Mavericks | UNT Alum | Twitter: @TheMulf

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