For starters, Texas is the second-largest state in the United States, with a population of just under 30 million people. In the NBA’s viewpoint, it is home to 3 legendary sides that have tasted mixed success over the years. Each side continues to forge its own path to the current day, with varied degrees of success throughout its illustrious history.
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Dallas Mavericks (Mavs)
The Mavericks were the latest Texas club to join the NBA, joining for the 1980 season after being voted in by the league’s owners. The Mavericks’ path began, like that of so many other expansion clubs before and after them, with a few setbacks. However, in just their third season in the league, they advanced to the second round of the playoffs, establishing a strong fan base and indicating that the team would remain prominent in the NBA for decades
Several NBA season awards have been won by Mavericks players, including two Rookie of the Year honors; Jason Kid (1995) and Luka Doncic (2019), Coach of the Year (Avery Johnson in 2006) and an MVP award for Dirk Nowitzki (2007).
In 2011, they defeated the Miami Heat, led by the “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, to win their first NBA title. Dirk Nowitzki earned the NBA Finals MVP award, cementing his status as one of the best players in league history and establishing himself as a Mount Rushmore type athlete in Texas.
Mark Cuban, the team’s usually enthusiastic and outspoken owner, helps to keep the franchise in the limelight, whether through huge free agency acquisitions or quotable media remarks regarding the present status of the NBA, a sport he really loves and supports.
After four years of mediocrity as the San Diego Rockets, the team was purchased and relocated to Houston in 1972, becoming the league’s first Texas-based team. The Rockets have faced some low moments throughout their history, but there have been a few notable periods of success as well.
1976-1987 – In 1976-77, 1980-81, and 1985-86, the Rockets advanced to the Conference Finals three times. Houston’s top big man Moses Malone earned the MVP award in 1979, and the “Twin Towers,” Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, helped the Rockets stay competitive for the big part of the decade. After reaching the Finals in 1986, the media dubbed them the next great NBA dynasty, but the period was cut short due to injuries and widespread drug usage in the league.
1993-1995 — For a brief period, the Rockets won back-to-back titles and established themselves as a league-wide dynasty. Granted, this was amid Michael Jordan’s absence from basketball, but this three-year span cemented Houston’s reputation as a perennial contender.
From 2012 until the present, James Harden has emerged as the Rockets’ leader and one of the most dynamic scorers in NBA history. His domination, combined with some outstanding contributions from role players, has contributed to the team’s incredible success, including a trip to the Conference Finals in 2017-18 and a close shave with eventual winner Golden State.
The Rockets have a long history of being one of the most successful teams in the league. They’ve made four NBA Finals trips and won two championships. Hakeem Olajuwon, James Harden, and Moses Malone have all won league MVP honors, and Ralph Sampson and Steve Francis have each earned Rookie of the Year accolades.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are the most accomplished NBA club from Texas, having won five championships since 1999. Their rich history dates back to the days of the American Basketball Association (ABA), a fierce opponent of the NBA in the 1970s.
Except for the amazing play of one of the NBA’s best scorers ever, George Gervin, from 1976 to 1985, the first 20 years were largely unsuccessful. The Spurs’ finest season during that period was 1977-78, when they lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Washington Bullets after leading three games to one. For the next 20 years, the Spurs would not return to the Conference Finals.
The Spurs acquired collegiate sensation David Robinson in 1989, and he single-handedly turned around the Spurs’ fortunes, capturing their first division title in seven years.
The Spurs finished first in the Western Conference practically every year throughout the rest of the 1990s, except for the 1995-96 season, when they suffered a major setback due to Robinson’s back ailment, which kept him out for most of the season.
However, there was a silver lining to that season’s terrible performance: they won the draft lottery and picked Tim Duncan, who would help them turn their history for the better.
Between 1999 and 2014, the Spurs appeared in six NBA Finals and won five championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014). This was the team’s most successful stretch, with 5 titles, plenty of awards, including two MVPs for Tim Duncan, three Coach of the Year awards for Greg Popovich, and an influx of talent like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard, who were all instrumental in the team’s overall success.