What is going on with the Mavs fanbase? There has been a lot of tension and in-fighting within the fanbase, and I think I’ve figured out why.
It is no secret that there have been issues within MFFL twitter. Lines of division have been drawn, cliques and crews have formed, and there is a general air of tension any time you venture into the timeline.
Not even the Mavs staff has been able to avoid the drama and Mavs media has been a common target as well. Both internal and external media have had clashes with fans.
Naturally, different questions emerge when it relates to these issues. What changed? What is causing the drama and in-fighting among the loyal fans of the Dallas Mavericks? Why is it happening now? Can we fix it? The truth is, there are several different reasons but I do think I can pin down the root of it, from there different branches have formed and we’ll get into those too.
Why is this happening now?
For me, I’ll always look at my time as a Mavs fan as pre-Dirk (casual), During Dirk (passion grew and love formed) and post-Dirk (TBD).
The era of Dirk was easy. 50 win season after 50 win season, we were fighting to get over the hump. We made the finals twice and got one championship out of it. Regardless as to how the season went, we knew what we were fighting for. In online conversations we all banded together to defend Dirk’s legacy and greatness to whoever dared to question it. We had an identity and a kinship that was forged around the greatest European player of all-time.
But then it ended. Even in the years after 2011 the team’s strategy and the fans hopes centered around trying to build a contender for Dirk. It wasn’t until 2017 that it started to change.
The shift started with the 2017 NBA Draft. For the first time in a long time the Mavs had a top pick in the draft and it looked like we were going to keep it. For the first time in a long time we could get excited about the draft and a pick that would be for the future of the franchise. Could we find the next star?
We ended up with Dennis Smith, Jr. A guy who I personally saw a lot of potential for if a coach could maximize his physical gifts and steer him mentally in the right direction. He needed a coach to push him but to look out for his feelings. I wasn’t sure if Carlisle was the right coach for the latter but he was definitely the right coach for the former so we were on our way.
This brought us to year two of the idea of tanking. While I was vocally against the idea of a fanbase embracing tanking, the team was bad and the losses mounted. I don’t want to get into an argument about that since it’s behind us but that year started to sow some of the seeds for the issues we have now. There was a firm division between people openly rooting for losses and those who still lived and died with every game. The seeds for the division we have now were planted.
As the year wound down and it became more and more clear that the Mavs were looking at a pick in the 5-9 range fans started to discuss the players they wanted. Most of the talk centered around a big to compliment Dennis because that was the realistic move.
In the end, the Mavs hit us with something that no one could see coming (besides the dreamers.) It was a foregone conclusion that Luka Doncic would likely be taken with one of the top two picks but once it became apparent that the Suns were set on Ayton, and the Kings were leaning toward Bagley a window opened.
The Hawks apparently had a style that they wanted to play and they didn’t feel that the next best player (Luka) would fit that style. Some also mention culture and others say they saw a chance to add a pick and still get a guy who they liked. Regardless, the result was the Mavericks ending up with the 3rd pick and Doncic. The rest is history.
Dennis and Luka
In my evaluation of Doncic I said that he needed to play on a team that would allow him to run the point primarily. I said that Luka going to a team with an established PG would cause problems for him or for that point guard. In Dallas it ended up being the latter because of the sizable gap in polish between the two.
Luka was almost ready for the main stage within a month and Dennis was still a few years away. The team became Luka’s very quickly and this was tough on Dennis, as I’d expect it to be for any player that has spent their entire life, including their rookie year, as the big man on campus.
Eventually, this led to the Mavericks trading Dennis and their expiring vets for Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Now things were different. The Mavericks had gone from bottom feeder/tanking to playoff hopeful for the 2019-2020 season and this is where our tree starts to take shape.
For all of the years of fighting with Dirk, trying to get to the mountain top. For the years after getting to the mountain top where we just wanted to be competitive for Dirk. To the years near the end where we knew we were trying to get pieces for the future, we were all on the same page for the most part.
Now, there was a decision to make. Are we fighting for the mountain top? Or are we still in a slow climb? This is the big split.
What is the goal?
As it stands it feels like half of the fanbase is back to living and dying, while the other half is fine with hitting the minimal goal of making the playoffs.
Through observation I’ve determined that most of those back in the camp of fighting for the top are the OG Mavs fans and/or the fans who look at sports as black and white. There are winners and losers and if you have to choose one, they’re always going to choose winning. This side also responds emotionally to everything that happens to their team and they need this as part of their fanhood or there’s no point.
On the other side are most of the young fans or newer fans to the Mavs fanbase, including the Luka fans that have now joined the MFFL family. This second side also includes most of the Mavs media related supporters and people who spend a lot of time thinking about draft picks, contracts, and analytics. These fans have an easier time disconnecting from the emotional game-to-game aspect. Not to say they aren’t just as passionate, but they are able to cool themselves down and respond to the bigger picture impact. These fans are looking at this season as a step in a long process and don’t react as emotionally to wins and losses. That energy is channelled elsewhere.
To break this down visually:
Live and die – 3-5 year plan
OG’s:Emotional – Young:New:Luka:Analytical
(Of course there are outliers but this seems to encapsulate most of it.)
Personally I fall into the left camp. I’m an OG fan, and an emotional fan. While I can understand the idea of playing the long game, I also say that if you’re in the playoffs you should pull for your team to win until they’re out. That’s not to say you’re going to win but that has to be my mentality as a fan if I’m going to support my team. I can’t only be passionate about the boys on the floor fighting for wins when we are expected to win. I have to pull for them the same way no matter what the circumstances are.
That’s why I enjoy watching Knicks games and going to Hornets games. Those teams haven’t won anything of significance in forever and to see those fans in the arena going crazy every night is fanhood in its purest form to me. But I digress.
All of that to say, the reason there is constant drama is because Dirk is gone. He was our stabilizing force to rally around and we no longer have that. We’re all lost and trying to figure out who we are and what we’re trying to achieve in the short and long-term. The fact that we don’t have that one core goal is the source of the tension.
Because of this, it won’t be corrected until the team is back to contending every year. Unfortunately, that is likely 2 or more seasons away.
That’s just my analysis of the situation.