The Story of the Sidekicks
In The Beginning
Dallas Mavericks general manager Norm Sonju understood his mission perfectly.
Reunion Arena was less than 3 years old in early 1983, and was already being called one of the best sports and entertainment venues in the United States. The Mavericks, as the only major tenant of the city-owned building did not want competition for dates and revenues there.
I'll be truthful, the main reason - at the time - we bought the New Jersey Rockets franchise was to protect our investment in the Mavericks. We didn't want another ownership (group) coming in to fight us over dates and marketing at Reunion. We did some research on the league and thought that the MISL might be the best investment.
- Norm Sonju to the Dallas Morning News on November 2, 1984 on why the Dallas Mavericks organization brought indoor soccer to Dallas.
As part of his research, Sonju traveled to Kansas City on February 22, 1983 to watch the MISL All-Star Game.
I had never seen an indoor soccer game, but I was never so impressed with an evening. I got really hooked on the sport. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen.
-Sonju, in the same article, proving the theory espoused by many fans of indoor soccer: go see one game and you'll either fall in love, or hate it.
Sonju returned to Dallas and convinced Mavericks owner Don Carter to purchase a franchise. The going price for a new franchise in the Major Indoor Soccer League at the time was $2 million. Deciding that price was too steep, the Mavericks began exploring other ways to buy a team.
The search took them to a place that, according to a popular TV commercial of the 1980s, would cause their fellow Texans to "get a rope" : New Jersey (specifically, the United States Bankruptcy Court for New Jersey).