In the early 2000s, the revamped Dallas Mavericks squad put the franchise back on the map. The team introduced a different kind of chemistry which highlighted the less-talked-about scoring ability of Michael Finley and the unorthodox offensive arsenal of Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.
Looking back at the trio’s emergence, nobody knew what Finley was really capable of while he was in Phoenix until he improved his game and finally found the perfect platform in Dallas.
Nowitzki and Nash, on the other hand, have been working hand-in-hand in honing their skills from the get-go.
Partners since Day 1
If we watch Nowitzki and Nash’s Mavs highlights right now, some of us can say that Dallas did a great job seeing their potential and developing it. However, not all are aware that the pair’s dedication was something the Mavs franchise did not plant in them.
The truth is, they knew they had it in them the moment they first arrived in Dallas in 1998 and lived together in the same apartment. It was where they pushed each other to the limits until the hard work finally paid off.
“Obviously, he found his position and became what he became but from the start, it was two young guys trying to make it and pushing each other and going to the gym twice a day,” Nash told Players’ Tribune’s “Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson & Darius Miles” of Nowitzki in 2019. “Then we would come back at night and play 1-on-1, horse and like push each other. That was the foundation.”
“I think of our relationship but also our growth,” he continued. “We needed that. Not just to believe deeper but to also get better. We needed to grow.”
A big “what if”
In the NBA, everything comes to an end. And it happened to the Nowitzki-Nash duo as well in 2004, after six seasons together. The good part was that the breakup turned out to be great for the pair individually. Nash won the MVP award twice in a row, and Nowitzki ended his streak in 2007.
Finley, who stayed in Dallas for one more season, recently admitted that he still has hang-ups with the “what if” of that Mavs team had Nash and Nowitzki remained.
“I knew what we had in Dallas,” Finley said. “We all played the game at the highest level, and all retired pretty successfully. We all have that ‘what if’ moment… What would’ve happened? I don’t think they (Nash and Nowitzki) would’ve three MVPs among them, but I think we would’ve won multiple championships.”
Nash and Nowitzki’s Mavs story is unique, but there’s still a chance that the Mavs can put together a team-up like that in the future. However, one thing they can never recreate is the kind of friendship the pair had.