Dallas Mavericks: Revisiting the Mother’s Day Massacre

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 24: Dirk Nowitzki #41 (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 24: Dirk Nowitzki #41 (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The year was 2011. The Dallas Mavericks were en route to a magical run to the NBA Championship. Here’s a look back at a pivotal stepping stone.

The Dallas Mavericks don’t get a lot of play on my blog. It’s not because I don’t like basketball. Far from it. It’s just that they’ve been largely unremarkable in recent years. The organization wasted the last third of Dirk Nowitzki’s career on a cast of misfit parts that never captured the magic of the 2011 march to the Larry O’Brien trophy. We can sit here and argue over the method, but that’s not the point of this exercise.

What I wanted to cover here is akin to what a lot of outlets are doing. Since life has taken an utterly bizarre turn lately, there’s been no shortage of iconic sports reruns dotting the TV landscape. As I type this, I’m enjoying a broadcast of 2016’s WrestleMania. It’s a welcome diversion at a time when uncertainty and paranoia rule the day.

Of course, we all remember how the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat. That triumph cemented Dirk Nowitzki’s status as an NBA icon. He was no longer the “soft” European player who couldn’t come through in the clutch. It was like a fairy tale. The good guy came through in the face of insurmountable odds. In true video game fashion, Dirk and the Mavs toppled every boss in their way. And in doing so, they shed the loser stigma that plagued the entire organization.

But along any trek to glory, there comes a time when a team does something that makes everyone stop and take notice. There’s that moment where we all wake up one day and say to ourselves, “Wait, maybe this year is different!” For the Mavericks, that occasion was probably on May 8th, 2011.

Now, what makes May 8th special to me is that it’s my birthday. It just so happens that that day in 2011 was also Mother’s Day. The dates intersect every five or six years depending on the leap year schedule, and this was one of those occurrences. To that point, the Mavericks had unbelievably taken the first three games of the series. This set up the finishing touch in front of the home crowd at American Airlines Center.

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What followed was an unmitigated tour de force. The Mavericks drained twenty three-point field goals en route to a 122-86 rout of the two-time defending champion Lakers. Crazier yet, Dirk attempted and made all of one jumper from outside the arc. The heavy lifting came from guard Jason Terry, who sank nine-of-ten threes. Forward Peja Stojaković went six-of-six from downtown. The Lakers hung around through the first half, but they simply could not withstand the onslaught. At the time, I told my friend, “If the Lakers fall too far behind, they’re gonna roll over and quit.” Sure enough, as their fate became more and more imminent, Los Angeles eventually lost their cool and resorted to dirty tactics.

The sweep of the Lakers eventually propelled the Mavericks to make short work of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Keep in mind that this was a Thunder squad led by Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook. It may seem outlandish now, but the Mavs dispatched that team in five games. The battle-tested Mavericks took the Thunder out to the deep water, and the young upstarts had no answers for a team that was clearly on a one-of-a-kind roll.

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It really all started on Mother’s Day 2011. The Dallas Mavericks exorcised several demons that afternoon. They went from also-rans to legitimate championship contenders almost overnight. When you render Kobe Bryant to a non-factor and basically send Phil Jackson into retirement, it’s notable. The Mavs managed to do all of that on one incredible day. As I’ve said to several friends before, if it never happens again, we’ll always have 2011.

  • Published on 03/30/2020 at 16:01 PM
  • Last updated at 03/30/2020 at 13:56 PM