If Dallas does better than that, it will be because the Mavericks are doing a commendable job of executing Motta's deliberate offense. It worked in Chicago and Washington, and it will work, at least to some degree, in Dallas too, because it's founded upon the theory that most pro players will guard a man through two screens but not three or more. "We'll mess with the clock like we did with the old Bulls," Motta says. "Slow teams down. Go gritty on them. Play country music during timeouts."
Motta parted company with both of his previous NBA employers, the Bulls in 1976 and the Bullets after last season, rather than put up with the spoiled players and meddlesome management he so detests. "I've always loved Dallas, and I've always wanted an expansion team," says Motta, who won a title with Washington in '78. "Of course we haven't lost 30 in a row yet."
Before one Mavericks game, Sonju was running around declaring, "Every day is like Christmas morning" and patting the janitors, electricians and usherettes on their backs. He chased around the arena looking after details from a 30-page checklist. He gushed over the printer who prepared the programs, congratulated the man who wired the 24-second clock, explained how he went through 70 revisions before approving the team's logo. He inspected the plush home locker room, the finest in the league, and then the visitors', which is as bare as an unfinished basement. "The officials will dress here," he said, pointing to another door. "But instead of going through the same tunnel our players use, they'll go around to another one. I gave the orders because Dick gets many of his technical fouls in the tunnel."
But all the planning in the world cannot change the fate of an expansion team. Bingo Smith, an original Cavalier who was drafted by Dallas but failed to make the team, has a good idea of what lies ahead. "I seem to remember that in Cleveland there was a lot of garbage on [Coach Fitch's] front lawn and toilet paper hanging from his trees," he says.
If that happens to Motta, he might consider it a compliment. In Texas that type of emotional reaction is usually reserved for football coaches.