Wow. I still can’t believe it. Even as I type this wearing my new Shawn Marion jersey, it is still unreal that the Dallas Mavericks are the 2011 NBA Champions. It’s the first professional sports championship Dallas has won in 12 years, the previous one being the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning Dallas Stars.
Five years of nightmares from 2006…gone.
Here are some of my favorite images from all the SB Nation blogs:
UPDATE 12-12-2011: Hyperlinks to a couple pictures are broken. Not going to find them.
And, because I want to promote my Paint skills, this:
Now, I could have posted a lot more pictures from around the web about the NBA Finals, but this post is supposed to contain words, not serve as a collage. But, these will help my train of thought.
The national media? Well, had I written this last week, they’d still be talking about LeBron James and his inability to come up big for his team. You know what? I don’t care. The Mavericks won. That’s what matters.
I will talk about LeBron and the media, however, after Game 6. There’s quite a bit to write my opinions here. First, LeBron was asked in the press conference if he thought he choked. Not only is that a terrible, yes/no question, which I was taught back in middle school not to do, but did that “journalist” really think he was going to get a good answer out of LeBron with that? Of course LeBron’s going to say no. Why would he say “yes” to a question like that? He’s gotta stick up for himself when someone asks something like that, and good for him to do so.
Now, LeBron’s been the topic of criticism for the overwhelming majority of the season ever since “The Decision,” but he’s brought that upon himself. He has said quite a few things he probably shouldn’t have, namely the “Not 5, not 6, not 7” soundbite during the Miami Heat preseason “Championship” celebration, which is now being used to fuel many jokes around the league, my favorite being “not 5, not 6, not 7, 8 points” after Game 4 of the Finals (credits go to Blog A Bull for that one). And after the Finals ended, he pretty much said that everyone who was hoping for him to lose would have to go back to their lives and do what they normally do, which was interpreted by many as him saying “Your life sucks. I’m rich, so deal with it.” After many people blasted him for that remark, he had to go out and clarify his remarks to the media to try to cover himself. I am hoping he didn’t mean to come across as insulting, but he probably should have waited a few seconds to think about what he was saying before he said all that. Many are watching you LeBron. As a Mavs fan, you gotta be careful about what you say.
Now, enough about the Heat. Let’s discuss the series.
Game 2 was a freaking miracle. Just like the incredible comeback the Mavs pulled off against Oklahoma City, this was unbelievable. As soon as Dwayne Wade hit that three to put the Heat up 88-73, I thought we were done for. LeBron and Wade celebrated like they already won by doing a little dance near the Mavs bench, which was blown way out of proportion by the media, because honestly, it wasn’t as big as the championship belt celebration Kevin Durant did after he hit the three to go up 99-84. Honestly, who could blame them? That lead is huge. There’s not much time on the clock, the game feels like it’s in hand. Everybody on Lone Star Ball (yes Rangers fans care about the Mavs too) and Mavs Moneyball all thought it was over, and I’m sure Peninsula Is Mightier did too.
But, then we saw Dirk go “The hell with this. I want that trophy.” And we saw the Mavs hold the Heat to 5 points, FIVE POINTS, in the final 7 minutes of the fourth quarter, of which came from two free throws by LeBron and a Mario Chalmers 3 that JET messed up defending. In the meantime, the Mavs scored 22. I can understand the Mavs coming back from 15 points once to win a game and accept that maybe it couldn’t happen again. But they pulled it off twice this year. Once is maybe lucky. Twice is clutch. There’s no other way to put it. Many people saw that game as the turning point of the series, and yes they’d be right, but I want to go a step further.
After losing Game 3, the media did not stop reminding everybody that the winner of Game 3 of the Finals after the series is tied 1-1 always won the series, going 11-0. I got the feeling that stat wasn’t going to mean a thing with the Heat and the Mavs playing down to the wire the past couple of games (Game 1 was over with 2 minutes to go, let’s face it). Game 4 was going to determine the life of the Mavs. Win and get back in the series, or lose and die.
I had a hunch the Mavs would win Game 4, but things did not look good…at all. Dirk got a fever the previous night, which explained why he was not shooting all that well, and we didn’t find that out until
Doris Burke told everyone after halftime that he was playing with a 101 degree fever. As soon as I heard this, I thought, “Oh crap. This won’t end well.”
What happened next is why I will argue Game 4 was THE turning point of the Finals. Once again, the Mavs were down late with not much time left in the fourth quarter. Dirk had a fever, the Mavs weren’t shooting well…it looked awful. But then, Dirk decided a fever wasn’t going to get in his way from accomplishing his dream of winning a championship, and he carried the team on his shoulders for another incredible comeback, with the Mavs winning by 3, 86-83.
This was another game the Heat thought they had won. Dirk was sick. The bench for the Mavs wasn’t hitting anything, outside of Jason Terry. They were up by 9. They were so close to going up 3-1. And they failed. This game got the Mavs faithful (everyone at the American Airlines Center in each game of the Finals deserves a medal) back in the series, the Mavs knew they had the series back in their control. If the Miami Heat could not kick a horse while it was down, as in beat the Mavs when Dirk was miserably sick and the bench was not helping him out, they blew their chance at closing out the series, because Dirk was going to be healthy in Game 5, and you just knew he would perform much better in that game than he did with the fever. This was the game in which the Mavs figured out how to stonewall the Heat. The zone defense absolutely crippled the heat offense, as LeBron pretty much freaked out and was scared to shoot the ball, so he kept passing it, wasting time on the clock. A game like this is a huge morale booster, and also a huge morale deflator. The Mavs thought after this game, “Man, we won a game in which the odds were stacked completely against us. We can play even better than this!” The Heat thought, “Man, we missed a huge opportunity to put them away, again.”
The Mavs tied the series 2-2, and then in Game 5, the shots that weren’t going down started falling. It was only a matter of time before the Mavs would hit all those open looks they were missing. The Mavs scored 112 points on the Heat, the highest point total the Heat defense had given up the entire postseason. It was also the first game the Heat had lost when scoring 100 points in the postseason. Once the bench got confident in their shooting, the Heat were toast. The Mavs bench stacked up much better than the Heat’s, and outside of Mario Chalmers, the Heat didn’t have many options to go to when the Big 3 were off the court.
Game 6 was basically all Mavs, outside of an anomalous 14-0 run that put the Heat up by two in the second quarter. After that, the Mavs didn’t look back, despite Dirk’s awful first half performance. The Mavs would not have won that game if Jason Terry didn’t score as many points as he did. He saved our ass.
When all was said and done, the Mavs won the series as a team. Everybody pulled together and contributed. Rick Carlisle outcoached Erik Spoelstra when it mattered the most.
There is not a square mile in Dallas in which you won’t see one Dallas Mavericks fan proudly supporting the team by wearing a shirt, jersey or hat. It took 31 years to get the first one, but wow, that first championship sure is sweet.