When asked how he envisioned game six of the NBA finals turning out, Tyson Chandler responded, "It would be a nice blur because there's going to be a lot going on in this game tonight."
A blur. The season, the playoffs, the finals. All a blur.
The Dallas Mavericks are NBA champions.
It seems fitting that this Mavericks season would end as a blur. It began with re-signing of Dirk Nowitzki on July fifth. Then followed by the franchise altering acquisition of Tyson Chandler on July 13th. And little did we know, in the span of eight days, the Mavericks would change their course forever.
The Mavericks would finish the off-season without making another significant addition to their squad. No splashes necessary. As the season approached, you heard the talk about the 22 year old shooting guard, Rodrigue Beaubois, entering the starting lineup and being the difference maker that could vault the Mavericks back into title contention. Beaubois would break his foot in early August and struggle to make an impression late in the season only to be relegated to the bench come playoff time.
They saw their supposed Robin to Dirk's Batman, Caron Butler, rupture his patellar tendon on New year's day. He would never play another game the rest of the season.The Mavericks again decided to stand pat and rather than trade Butler's expiring contracting, they simply added two more scrappy pieces on the free agent market. Peja Stojakovic and Corey Brewer. Both one dimensional, both served a purpose. Stojakovic's offensive threat was a much needed weapon throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs and Brewer's defensive spark in game one against the Lakers gave a glimpse into the magical run the Mavericks were about to embark on.
The other pieces would compliment the Mavericks just as well. Jason Kidd would provide the unfaltering leadership and calming influence the Mavericks severely lacked in their 2006 quest. Shawn Marion, the rare defensive stopper the Mavericks had never had. Jason Terry, the clutch shooting that disappeared in 2006. J.J Barea, the offensive spark plug the likes of which we've seldom seen in the NBA. Brendan Haywood, the center depth this team has never seen in it's history. And Stevenson provided the crazy. As Charles Barkley would say, "every team needs a crazy guy." Stevenson was our crazy guy and we love him for that.
Led by their magical stalwart, Dirk Nowitzki. Hammered for the last 13 years, as he put it, finally being able to call himself a champion. He endured the hardships and the scrutinies that come with being a franchise player and simply worked harder. Got better. And finally, this year, became more vocal. Began to not only lead by example but held guys accountable. Made sure they stayed focused at all times. After blowing the 23 point lead to the Blazers, Nowitzki was the first person to speak in the locker room. He needed to. He had to. This was not slipping away. Not this year. Not a chance. The Mavericks would return to win game five in Dallas and close the series out in Portland in six. The rest was history.
I can only speak for myself, but I can not imagine being happier for a single athlete than I am for Dirk right now.
Humble, charismatic, guarded and now, finally, champion.
All you can do is smile.
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