I am on record as being strongly in favor of the Mavericks retiring Mark Aguirre’s No. 24. It’s sort of moot now, since the team has said no player will ever wear it again—but in honor of Kobe Bryant.
So I listened with great interest to this episode of Open Run, the podcast featuring Mavericks broadcasters Jeff “Skin” Wade and Derek Harper, which features Harp’s former teammate. He goes into what happened to break apart a team that was threatening the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy, and what caused the former model franchise to run aground in the 1990s.
We got to feeling ourselves—as an entire organization. We ran into landmines, which people, you know, unconsciously planted in our organization. And then it whittled down into a basketball team. We were divided because—as I learned playing and listening to the Boston Celtics, because I was playing them a lot in Detroit, listening to those people—and what I saw was, even though you are part of the franchise, one of the biggest things is that locker room has to be complete, tight. Really tight. That means, even if you’re my brother playing basketball, even though there are some things that aren’t right about you, that we have to discuss and hammer out, you don’t let that out of the locker room. It’s the easiest way to divide you. And our Maverick team was so divided. It was extremely divided. It hammered us. We didn’t know it. We were young.
It is a fascinating listen. Among other things, Aguirre regrets the way he “destroyed” Detlef Schrempf, ruining the young German’s confidence to the point that Schrempf had to start over with another team. (They got tight before Detlef left, though.) I also did not realize that Roy Tarpley lived with Aguirre until the latter was traded to the Detroit Pistons, and the late Tarpley’s big problems with drugs and alcohol took over after that. Anyway, check it out. I really do think it will change your perception of the divisive Mavericks great.