Monday, June 13, 2011

At Long Last, A Championship and Vindication


Congratulations to my Dallas Mavericks for winning the 2011 NBA Championship:
World Champions? Dallas Mavericks?

Yes - They - Did.

Surely, to fully understand how far-fetched that concept was before last night, you had to sit through some sad nights at Reunion Arena before Mark Cuban bought the franchise. You had to hang in there over the course of 10 consecutive playoff endings that included disappointment and the wonder of whether next year would ever really be the year.

[...]

And across the arena, a large part of the entire narrative involved their opponent. And the Mavericks feeding off of it. Whether it was Miami being the winner in 2006 or Miami putting a giant and unnecessary target on their chests back in July. The Heat were the perfect opponent for Dallas in the NBA Finals for all sorts of reasons of symmetry. This is the team that Nowitzki and Terry wanted another shot at. It took 5 long years of quietly hearing everything that was said and allowing it to fuel them through long training sessions all year long. There was no guarantee that they would ever get another shot at Dwyane Wade and the Heat. Wade had called out Dirk's ability to close back then. So, when they did get a chance to settle it on the court, you could see that Dirk and Jet were not going to let that chance get away if they could help it.

And they could.

To make matters more theatrical, the principles in Miami thought they would mock Dirk back in Dallas by questioning whether he was really sick in Game 4. At certain points, you actually wondered if Miami wanted to be the villain. Until you saw on their faces - one in particular - how they certainly were not cut out to be villains. The weight of the world was crushing. And when the smoke cleared, James and Wade looked like they really didn't understand why the neutral observer was cheering for their defeat. They just didn't get it. But, something tells me that this experience might demonstrate to them that championship rallies should never precede a championship.

But, back to the 2011 NBA Champions, they completed their mission. They woke up this morning (assuming they slept) with no further opponents to vanquish. It is just the players and their trophy. They had done something that took these athletes their entire career and this franchise 31 years. Dallas is a city that had sports failures in Miami so many times - Super Bowl V, Super Bowl X, Super Bowl XIII, and the '06 NBA Finals - but, this time, they fly back to Dallas with that coveted title, a shiny gold basketball, and a spot in the annals of basketball history that can not be erased.

Only on this day will the last of their doubters finally concede. And for those of you who suffered for years following a franchise that never looked like they would get to the top of the mountain, well, this is your year. Congratulations to you.

[...]

This is your day. Enjoy it for all it is worth. LeBron James reminds you that your life will still contain many of the same circumstances and he will still have his. Well, good for him. He is arrogant to the end.

But, the Mavericks have the Championship. And, the loyalty to your home team pays off.

Enjoy it. And finally, plan your parade. It is well earned.
As a Texan and long-suffering fan of the Mavs, I am thrilled with this victory, and that it came against the team that denied them this opportunity 5 years ago. As a current resident of the Cleveland area, I am especially happy to see this victory also deprive a certain someone of a championship ring for which he attempted to take a shortcut to get.

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