Pause To Reflect

Dallas Mavericks: Western Conference Champions

Once again, I’m living through actual, real, honest-to-goodness magic at the moment. The Mavs are (amazingly/astoundingly/miraculously) in the NBA Finals again. And, just like 5 years ago, everything is happening so fast it’s still hard to fathom, let alone believe.

The stage is the same. The feelings of equal parts joy and anxiety are similar. The foe (crazily enough) is also the same in the Miami Heat. However, there are two very noticeable differences this time around.

Well, I have to admit that there didn’t seem to be any realistic chances we (I’ve been a fan of this team for 8 years now – and we’re talking hardcore fandom – so give me a break when I use the goddamn “we” bullshit) were going to make the finals this year. Three of the top 7 players in the league (according to my old evaluation methods at NBA Sim) successfully hijacked the league after conspiring to play together on the same team. This was absolutely unprecedented in the history of the sport and I felt the deafening destruction of the Mavericks’ championship aspirations before the season had even begun.

Then things got worse.

Savior-of-the-season, Roddy Beaubois, was injured in preseason and didn’t play until 3/4ths of the season was over. And then he was so out of game shape he stopped playing altogether! Next, Dirk went down for 9 games, sinking the Mavs’ excellent start. Finally, Caron Butler, the second-best player on the team suffered a season-ending injury right after Dirk went down. That, added to the fact that so many other teams (Spurs, Lakers, Chicago, Heat) started to look utterly dominant and I began to brace myself for finding victory in smaller, less-championshippy things.

The absolute lowest point of the year was right near the end. The Mavs and the odorous Lakers were tied in wins and vying for the second seed in the playoffs. I felt it was critical that the Mavs win since I believed the defending champion Lakers to be vastly superior and we’d need every advantage – including the home court advantage that came with the higher seed – we could clutch. Well, in that deciding game, the Mavs were defeated. No, humbled. No, demolished. It was a bloodbath. Mavericks were ejected, losing their cool, and I could see the writing on the wall. Other teams started to lick their lips and publicly hoped to face Dallas in the postseason. We’d make the playoffs, sure, but now it seemed a question as to WHO would get to kick our ass.

But then we started to win!

We won after the upstart Blazers made it a series with a miraculous Game 4 comeback. We won against the Lakers – sweeping them 4-0 in a beautifully brief series. We won against the heralded Thunder – who’s average age was 10 years younger than the old-in-the-tooth Mavs. Jason Kidd – aged 38 – played like he was 28. Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic couldn’t miss a 3-pointer. Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler provided some much-needed (and never-before-seen) athletic defense. Dirk was Dirk but was so much Dirk that the nation finally started paying attention.

Well, we won our second trip to the finals and now it’s up to us – the old team of “also-rans” and “never was” – to take down the usurpers and exorcise the ghosts of past playoff failures. This time, however, I’m not going into this one so brazen – not so sure of myself. Those two differences I mentioned earlier are keeping me grounded. I’m amazed we even got here in the first place and I know it’s way too early to celebrate – I’ve earned some valuable wisdom in those 5 years of losing. Can we succeed?

Quote Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavs, after winning the Western Conference Finals: “We ain’t done yet!”

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  • Shelby
    Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 16:01 | #1

    Let us pray. Oh Lord, give Stanus the strength to endure the unendurable, bear the unbearable and accept that Your will be done in Miami as it is in Dallas. Amen.

    Go Mavs !!!

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