Five years ago the Dallas Mavericks had to make the difficult walk back to the locker room after being defeated by the Miami Heat in the NBA finals.
This time it was the Mavericks turn to celebrate.
That’s right, the Mavs completed one of the most improbable runs to the NBA title in history Sunday night, defeating the highly favored Heat 105-95 in Miami to win the series in six games while earning their first championship.
"Tonight," said Mavs guard Jason Terry, who along with Dirk Nowitzki are the only two remaining members of the 2006 team that made it to the finals with the Mavs, "we got vindication."
Indeed they did and perhaps this was made even sweeter by the enormity of the upset. Miami and its manufactured Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were put together last summer with the thought of winning championships and lots of them. But the Mavs proved that the concept of a true team trumps three individual stars any day.
Nowitzki was spectacular in the finals as he was throughout the playoffs. And Terry, perhaps one of the most dynamic sixth men in the NBA, was a spark the Heat just couldn’t challenge.
Terry scored a game high 27 points Sunday night to help the Mavs pull away from Miami again in the fourth quarter. And Nowitzki, who cemented his place as one of the all-time greats in the game, finished with 21 points and took home the Finals MVP.
"We worked so hard and so long for it," Nowitzki said. "The team has had an unbelievable ride."
It became obvious in game 4 that the ride would very likely end with the Mavs winning their first title this season. They just looked like the better team in every fourth quarter—the time when you find the true measure of a team.
James, who was notorious for fading in the fourth quarter during his seven seasons with the Cavs, lived up to his reputation in the finals with the Heat.
"It goes without saying," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to reporters afterward. "You're never really prepared for a moment like this. Neither team deserved this championship more than the other, but Dallas earned it."
Information used in this report was obtained from the Associated Press.
(Photo: AP Photo/Ronald Martinez; Pool)