Rolando Blackman was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks 9th overall in the 1981 NBA Draft. When Blackman got drafted, he became the first Panamanian-born NBA player. In his rookie season, he played in 81 games, starting in 16 of them. In Blackman’s rookie season, he made an immediate impact by averaging 13.3 points per game (PPG), 3.1 rebounds per game (RPG), and 1.3 assists per game (APG). That was just a preview of what was to come from Blackman during his career.
The 1983-1984 season, his third year in the league with the Mavericks, was his best. Blackman averaged a career-high 22.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 3.6 APG, while shooting a career-best 54.6% from the field. Even though it was his best season, he didn’t get the recognition for it. In the following three seasons, however, he became an All-Star. He became an All-star for a fourth time in 1990.
His run as a Maverick came to an end in 1992, when he was traded to the New York Knicks, where he spent his last two seasons in the league. During Blackman’s time as part of the Mavericks, he averaged 19.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 3.2 APG. He was a four-time All-Star. While part of the Mavericks, Blackman scored 16,643 points, a franchise record that stood for 16 years until Dirk Nowitzki broke it. Blackman was the NBA’s all-time scoring leader among Latin players with 17,623 career points until Pau Gasol broke the record in 2015. Blackman became the second Mavericks player to have his number retired, his #22 jersey was raised into the rafters of Reunion Arena on March 11, 2000.
Once Blackman’s NBA career was over, he played a few years in Europe. However, it was only a matter of time before he found his way back to being a part of the Mavericks organization. In the 2000-2001 season, he returned to the Mavericks as the defensive coordinator on coach Don Nelson’s coaching staff. He then became an assistant coach on the German National team and helped them win the bronze medal at the 2002 World Basketball Championships. Blackman also became a television analyst for the Mavericks. He returned during the 2005-2006 season as part of the coaching staff, this time as an assistant coach to coach Avery Johnson. In the next season he got promoted to the director of basketball development for the Mavericks, a position he still holds. In 2010, he was hired as an assistant coach for the Turkey National Basketball team as part of the 2010 FIBA World Championship tournament. He is also currently the vice president of corporate relations for the Mavericks.
Blackman still lives in Dallas and has four children, Valerie, Brittany, Briana, and Vernell. Blackman also spends time promoting education and assisting underprivileged children. Coming from Panama at a young age and having to learn English as a kid motivated him to help and educate children all around the Dallas area. From growing up in Panama and moving to the United States at a young age to becoming a four-time All-Star and getting his number retired by the Mavericks, Blackman had quite a journey.