DALLAS — Age was nothing but a number for the 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks.
Tied for the fifth-oldest team in the league this season with an average age of 28.5 years old, the Mavericks set and accomplished their goal of returning to the playoffs following a 49-33 campaign. And despite taking the court with an aging core, the Mavs’ veterans refused to let their senescence work against them while pushing the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
“It’s a veteran group and you have guys that are willing. It’s no egos,” 37-year-old sixth man Vince Carter explained. “Everybody put that ego stuff aside. It wasn’t about how many points I can score … or am I going to get recognition. It was about how can I help the team. And when you have veterans like that coming in it helps and it makes it a little easier.
“I think guys have really put the work in and are willing to do what it takes. It’s just great to see our older guys and the work they put in behind the scenes that people don’t see. It is just amazing and it’s for the good of the team. You know, everybody wants to play as many games (as possible) and want to be a part of a winning franchise. And we all know how important we, the older guys, are as for as just leading the way. Guys put their work in and guys are stretching, hitting the weights or whatever needs to be done. It was just great, ’cause it set the tone for what the young guys can do now.”
Led by 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki at the age of 35, the Mavericks proved many of their naysayers wrong while finishing the regular season strong in order to reach the playoffs. However, with Nowitzki, Carter and the now 36-year-old Shawn Marion all set to enter free agency on July 1, the Mavericks could lose some of their veteran leadership this summer.
Still, with team owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson committed to keeping the core intact for continuity next season, the Mavs could once again rely on their ageless veterans until the young contributors are ready to take the reins. That suits Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle just fine as he tries to build on the the success of this season.
“You know, Marion and Nowitzki and Carter are great veteran guys that have good years left, and they’re going to continue to work to keep their careers going,” Carlisle said with hopes of keeping the trio in the fold.
He added: “Veteran continuity is one of the important things for continued success. It’s one of the reasons that San Antonio has had such a long run. … You know, Dirk, Vince and Shawn, those guys will be key guys this summer as we start talking to guys. And those guys are such good players, it’s going to give a team like us a starting point every year.”