Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry: Validation with a Vengeance

Dirk - Champion.jpg
​ As I watched Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki try to keep an eye and arm on their new NBA Finals and NBA Finals MVP trophies, all the while swigging from a bottle of bubbly as big as a small pony, it struck me just how perfect this night was.

The Mavericks -- those soft lil' Mav-wrecks -- were headed onto their bus and into the Miami night toward South Beach for an unprecedented night of partying with 100 bottles of Rose at famed night club LIV. More important, the Mavericks were headed into a future as NBA champs.

"The best thing is that no one can ever take this away from us," Nowitzki said in the wake of his Mavs vanquishing the Heat in a 105-95 victory at American Airlines Arena. "Ever."

As the final seconds ticked away, Dirk remained, well, Dirk.

Overcome with the emotion of finally summitting the mountain after 13 years of almost, sliding and failure, Nowitzki hopped over the scorer's table and zipped into the Mavs' locker room for a quiet, isolated cry. Fitting. Perfect.

Everything the guy does is understated. From his game -- all fadeaways and free throws -- to his persona. While LeBron James beats his chest after every dunk and boasts "The Decision" on national television, Nowitzki capped a redemptive 21-point, 11-rebound shining moment by literally running away from the spotlight.

As the clock struck 0:00 and Dallas got its first pro sports championship since 1999, Dirk was in the hallway leading to the visitors' locker room. Same exact spot where -- in 2006 -- he disgustedly kicked a Stairmaster after the Mavs coughed up Game 3 en route to an epic collapse.

Full. Circle.

And then there's the other Maverick left from '06 -- Jason Terry.

While Dirk was an uncharacteristically awful 1 of 12 in the first half, there was Terry to pick up up the slack. The same Terry, remember, who was called out by Dirk after Game 3 for not being a clutch player when Dallas needed him most in The Finals.

In the series' final three games, Terry backed up his big talk. He blew by James off the dribble. He drilled a mammoth 3-pointer to cap the win in Game 5. And last night he scored 27 points in pushing the pace and shoving the Mavs franchise into unchartered territory. Even more important, with the Mavs leading by 10 and less than 5 minutes remaining, he urged Nowitzki to "not let up. Remember '06."

It was Terry, remember, who missed the potential game-tying 3-pointer at the end of Game 6 in '06, allowing Miami to celebrate on Dallas' court. Last night -- better late than never -- it was sweet revenge.

Terry can now not only keep his NBA Finals trophy tattoo. He said he's going to add the date: June 12, 2011.

"You could say," said Terry, "that it's sweet vindication."


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