Tractor traded: Do you remember Robert Traylor? He's the backbone of the Dallas Mavericks. No, seriously.

The Son and the Suns

Before holding onto our chairs and grabbing our throats during tonight's Apocalyptic Game 5 of the Mavs-Suns NBA Western Conference Finals at the American Airlines Center, let's take a second to give credit where credit's due. And that's to Donnie Nelson.

The Mavs' general manager these days, back on a summer day in 1998, he was an assistant coach and assistant GM to his dad, Don Nelson. On June 25, 1998 the Mavs--based on Donnie's recommendations--used the 6th overall pick to draft a burly (i.e., fat ass) forward from Michigan named Robert Traylor. Ah, but hold on, the story gets better. Much, much better. Before Traylor could even get comfy in his new hat, the Mavs traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks for a fella named Pat Garrity and--oh, yeah--Dirk Nowitzki.

Not satisfied, the Nelsons immediately packaged Garrity and--prepare to giggle--Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a first-round draft pick in 1999 to the Phoenix Suns for a third-string point guard, some dude named Steve Nash. At the time, most of us local scribes lampooned the deals for a German teenager and a white boy who couldn't beat out Kevin Johnson or Jason Kidd. Phoenix turned that '99 pick into a player named Shawn Marion, who you might have heard of, so it wasn't a total fleecing. But, in retrospect, Donnie acquired a two-time MVP and a two-time top-three MVP vote-getter in what has to be one of the most remarkable 60-minute trade windows in sports history. "We thought a lot of them both at the time, obviously," Donnie says these days. "But, come on, we didn't forsee this kind of stuff." In other news: Go, Mavs! --Richie Whitt

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