NBA Finals: Mavericks 105, Heat 95
By Tim Reynolds
MIAMI ó For Dirk Nowitzki, the resume is complete. Heís an NBA champion.
For LeBron James, the agonizing wait continues for at least one more year.
Avenging what happened five years ago in perfect turnabout style, the Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA title by winning Game 6 of these finals in Miami 105-95 on Sunday night ó celebrating on the Heatís home floor, just as Dwyane Wade and his team did to them in the 2006 title series. The Mavericks won four of the seriesí last five games, a turnabout that could not have been sweeter.
ěI really still canít believe it,î said Nowitzki, who had 21 points and took home finals MVP honors.
ěTonight,î Jason Terry said, ěwe got vindication.î
James did not. Not even close, and a year unlike any other ended they way they all have so far ó with him still waiting for an NBA title.
He scored 21 points for Miami, shook a few hands afterward, and departed before most of the Mavs tugged on their championship hats and T-shirts. Chris Bosh had 19, Mario Chalmers 18 and Dwyane Wade 17 for the Heat.
ěWe worked so hard and so long for it,î Nowitzki said. ěThe team has had an unbelievable ride.î
So did the Heat. Unlike Dallas, theirs wasnít a joyride.
ěIt goes without saying,î Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ěYouíre never really prepared for a moment like this. … Neither team deserved this championship more than the other, but Dallas earned it.î
Make no mistake: Miami lost the finals, but the blame will be directed at James. Even he knew that after the way he left Cleveland with ěThe Decisionî and all the animus that generated not just in Ohio but around the entire league, the only way he could silence some critics was with a title.
Instead, he got more criticism ó and a thinly veiled jab from his former owner with the Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, who reveled in the moment on Twitter.
ěMavs NEVER stopped & now entire franchise gets rings,î Gilbert wrote. ěOld Lesson for all: There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.î
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle joined a highly elite group, those with NBA titles as both a player and a head coach. Only 10 other men are on that list, including the presumably retired-for-good Phil Jackson, one of Carlisleís mentors in K.C. Jones, and Heat President Pat Riley ó who led Miami past Dallas in 2006, and was the mastermind of what the Heat did last summer by getting James, Wade and Bosh on the same team with an eye on becoming a dynasty.
It might still happen, of course.
But even after 72 wins this season, including playoffs, the Heat lost the last game. And that means this year was a disappointment ó except to just about everyone else in the NBA, or so it would seem.
ěThis is a true team,î Carlisle said. ěThis is an old bunch. We donít run fast or jump high. These guys had each otherís backs. We played the right way. We trusted the pass. This is a phenomenal thing for the city of Dallas.î
Hating the Heat became the NBAís craze this season, and the team knew it had no shortage of critics, everyone from Cleveland (where ěCavs for Mavsî shirts were popular during these finals) to Chicago (the city James and Wade both flirted with last summer) and just about every place in between lining up to take shots at Miami.
Given their newfound popularity, meet the new Americaís Team.
Sorry, Cowboys ó your long-held moniker might have to be ceded to your cityís NBA club. When it was over, Mavs owner Mark Cuban ran onto the court to hug Carlisle, then punched the air and whooped.
When the Mavericks took a 2-0 lead in Dallas during the ë06 finals, plans for their victory parade were announced. The Mavs didnít win another game in that series.
Now, that parade will finally happen. And when itís over, then the leagueís uncertainty will truly begin. Labor strife likely awaits, and although more talks geared toward movement on a new deal are scheduled for this week, both owners and players are bracing for a lockout to begin once the current collective bargaining agreement expires June 30.
Late Sunday night, the CBA was the last thing on the mind of the new champions of the NBA.
Jason Kidd, at 38 years old, got his first championship. Nowitzki got his at 32, Terry at 33. They were featured on the video screen in their building in Dallas during this series on what seemed like a constant loop, each posing with the NBA trophy and looking longingly at it, standing mere inches from it, as if to say ěso close, yet so far away.î
No more. Itís theirs.
Nowitzki sealed it with 2:27 left, hitting a jumper near the Miami bench to put Dallas up 99-89, and some fans actually began leaving. Nowitzki walked to the Mavsí side slowly, right fist clenched and aloft.
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