A Shift in the Metroplex: From Cowboys to Mavericks


The Dallas Cowboys’ recent loss in the playoff game to the San Francisco 49ers, despite having one of the strongest defenses in the league, is significant because it furthers the shift in the city of Dallas and really, the Dallas/Fort-Worth metroplex for the past two decades. For such an extended period of time Texas was synonymous with the Dallas Cowboys, even more so they are a prominent name throughout the country, after all they are America’s team. Lately though, the Dallas Mavericks have been slowly creeping up on them for the same kind of national and global recognition. So how did the city get here and where does it go from here?

The Beginning of Both Franchises

Clint Murchison Jr. was the former owner of the Cowboys who initially started the franchise in 1960. From there it was a long journey to the Cowboys first Super Bowl in 1972, including the impactful additions of coach Tom Landry, quarterback Roger Staubach, and defensive lineman Bob Lilly. Six years later in 1978, the Cowboys won another Super Bowl defeating the Denver Broncos. 

In 1980, the Dallas Mavericks began their team despite the Mavericks of the University of Texas at Arlington being a short drive down the road. Their first three major players that put them on the map were Brad Davis, Mark Aguirre, and Rolando Blackman. In a 20 year period the Mavs had six playoff appearances but only made it as far as the conference finals once. 

Going back to the Cowboys they won the Super Bowl three more times occuring in 1993, 1994, and 1996.

The Past Two Decades 

Since the initial start of the two franchises the tide has significantly changed.

In 1998 the Mavericks got two stellar players, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, little did anyone know Nowitzki would become the long term face of the franchise. The two were a perfect complement to join guard Michael Finley to help make the Mavs contenders. When Mark Cuban became the new owner of the team in 2000 he showed real passion and a drive to turn the team around. The following 16 years the Mavs made the playoffs 15 times. Those 15 appearances included two trips to the finals, both times the Mavs faced the Miami Heat. The first time, in 2006, the Mavs fell in a six game series. The second time, in 2011, the Mavs got their revenge, beating the Heat in six games to win the franchise’s first and only championship. Looking at the last five years the Mavs have had only two playoff appearances where they exited both times in the first round to the Clippers.

While the Mavs’ performance on the court was on the upswing the Cowboys had the opposite experience. Since the Cowboys’ last Super Bowl they have only won a total of three playoff games. Many hoped Tony Romo would be able to take them back to a Super Bowl with the talented rosters that accompanied him and extreme athleticism that he possessed as a player but ultimately it never came to fruition.

Besides wins, how did the Mavs gain recognition? 

Part of Cuban’s effort to turn the team around when he initially bought the franchise was to make sure the arena itself was full. He recognized the importance of having fans at the game for the player’s sake to create an exciting environment and a home court advantage. One critical thing that Cuban implemented was putting microphones on the rims. This feature seemed to especially resonate with fans and add to their overall experience, and soon after it became normal across the league. Another thing that Cuban was on the forefront of was the use of analytics to create compatible roster combinations. In fact, it is the use of this system that is partially credited to the team’s success in 2011. 

Making changes in fan’s accessibility to games, their experience at the games, and how rosters are created proved to be successful strategies. These changes influenced other teams and impacted the way they conducted their own franchises and ultimately helped the Mavs gain recognition throughout the league. 

The Mavs fan base reaches globally as well because they have had successful international players on their team such as Nowitzki, Detlef Schrempf, Eduardo Najera, and Luka Doncic, to name a few. All of these players’, and many others, brought viewership and support internationally from their homes. It’s this kind of support across the globe that boosted the Mavs even more.

Entering a New Era

Now both teams have a new hope with young stars in quarterback Dak Prescott and guard Luka Doncic. So far neither player has had the kind of success with their team that the city has hoped for but they remain hopeful for the near future. While the Cowboys’ season is over, they are clearly establishing an identity as a team and if they are able to retain the team they put together this year they are not far off from being in the position they would like to be in. As for the Mavs, they are currently 35-24 and 5th in the West. They have put an emphasis on defense this season and it is paying off in a big way, only time will tell on how the rest of the season goes.

Other Forces in the City

It would be careless not to mention the other teams that are heavily in the conversation when it comes to DFW sports, those being the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Stars. The Rangers and the Stars have each built strong fan bases and been competitive in their respective leagues.

In no way is this a battle between the Cowboys and Mavs for the city of Dallas or DFW, if anything the two teams have a partnership. The players of each team go to each other’s games often and support one another on social media. The trends of these two teams are notable because it recognizes how special each of them are in their own unique way. For the Cowboys, it shows how incredible it is to build a dominant franchise from the beginning. On the other side of the coin, for the Mavs, it shows how impressive it is to make a dramatic change for an entire franchise and gain the same level of recognition. Here’s to hoping that soon fans in this area will have two teams to celebrate.

Categories: Mavs Fans For Life

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