So earlier I wrote a bit of a recap of last night’s Finals-clinching victory for the Mavericks. I mentioned the vindication, redemption, and jubilation of many of the Maverick players and staff. Just mentioning it, though, does not do the meaning of last night’s championship justice for the Mavericks. Let’s take a closer look.
Dirk Nowitzki: This is the easy one, as Dirk has been waiting for last night’s moment for five long years. Up 2-0 in the 2006 Finals to the Heat, the Mavs lost the next four games, as Dwyane Wade captured his first title. After that, Dirk was hammered as being soft and incapable of winning. Even in this year’s playoffs, no one really gave the Mavs much of a chance, though a sweep of the Lakers changed that a bit. But they were the underdogs in the Finals. And so now Dirk is vindicated. He has his ring, and he proved he is anything but soft after battling the flu during Game 4. He now has most likely cemented himself as a future Hall of Famer, and is truly one of the game’s all-time greats.
Jason Terry: The lone teammate of Dirk left over from the 2006 team, Terry, too, is vindicated. He sported a new tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy late in the year and backed it up. He, too, has dealt with the misery of defeat for five seasons, and so this win means just as much to him as Dirk. And it’s fitting they are the only members of the ’06 squad left, because they led the charge this time, and they won together.
Jason Kidd: A loser in both his previous Finals appearances with New Jersey, Kidd has been in the NBA for nineteen seasons now, and finally gets his ring. I might even argue that he is the most deserving of all the Mavs. It’s been a long road for Kidd and if he chooses to retire, then he will have a fantastic career to reflect upon, and that long awaited championship.
Shawn Marion: Marion was Steve Nash’s running mate in Phoenix for a number of years, before being traded to Miami in the Shaquille O’Neil deal in 2008. He spent a couple seasons there before moving to Toronto, and then onto Dallas. Not necessarily a journeyman, but Marion’s career went from solid number two option to complementary piece, but that role may be what serves him best. He certainly was a perfect fit on the Mavs, and after twelve years, he, too, is deserving of his ring.
Tyson Chandler: A more typical journeyman, Chandler bounced around the league after the rebuilding project in Chicago fizzled out. Drafted out of high school, Chandler never really found his niche until he was in New Orleans, and there he turned into a defensive force, one that eventually fit perfectly alongside Dirk. It has been a long road for him as well, and, as a Bulls fan, I can’t help but feel good for the guy, who has turned in a really respectable career.
This is not even to mention injured Caron Butler, coach Rick Carlisle, or owner Mark Cuban. Or the rest of the team. Everyone is deserving of the championship, as the Mavs are the true definition of team. You simply can’t help but feel good for everyone on the team. They each are deserving in their own ways, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone outside of Miami who is disappointed in yesterday’s result. Going into the potential lockout, the NBA needed something positive, and what it got was the most feel-good champion and story in years.