Everybody loves to focus on the departure of Steve Nash during the 2004 off-season when mocking the Mavs, and ... well ... rightfully so.
But roughly one year earlier -- Sept. 26, 2003, to be exact -- the Mavs let a player go who would turn out to be a big-time baller and the exact kind of player they've sorely needed the past three years. After one of the greatest seasons in franchise history, which ended with a six-game loss to the Spurs in the West finals, the Mavs allowed free agent Raja Bell to sign a two-year deal with Utah.
It's hard to blame the Mavs. After all, Bell averaged just 3.1 points and 15.6 minutes per game, and he simply wasn't a priority as the team was too preoccupied trying to pull off blockbuster deals to acquire Antawn Jamison and Antoine Walker.
But to look at Bell now, to see what he has become, has to hurt the Mavs. He's tough, fearless, an excellent 3-point shooter, a terrific defender and the kind of player anybody would love to go to battle with.
He showed flashes of all that during the Mavs' playoff run that season. If only they had paid better attention. After Adrian Griffin last season and now Greg Buckner, the Mavs are nowhere near filling that relentless, tough-guy, no-nonsense void.
Want to feel even worse, Mavs fans? What if the team had kept Nash and Bell?
Hmmm, let's not even go there.
-- Garza, Mavs Lite