I have thousands of reasons to celebrate. It’s my daughter’s second birthday. (Love you, Baby Girl!) Father’s Day is a week away. We’re taking my father-in-law someplace special (that I’ve never eaten at before, too). My anniversary is two weeks away. (5 years! I love you, Beautiful!)
As a sports fan, I have plenty of reasons to celebrate. UFC 131 was a great Pay-Per-View, according to the chatter I heard. Junior Dos Santos won (who is quickly becoming one of my favorites). Strikeforce is going to be live in Dallas this weekend. I have floor seats (thanks to my dad). Overeem vs. Werdum should be a freaking awesome fight. Derek Jeter (whom I despise, yet respect) is 7 hits away from being the 28 baseball player in history to hit his 3000th hit. Not that he will be the last to do that. Ivan Rodriguez, A-Hole and Omar Vizquel are all within 250. (And since Vizquel has that picture up in his attic that ages while doesn’t, he just might make it happen.) My Phillies went 3-1 to win their series against the Cubs. My native Panama beat the USA in soccer this weekend. There’s a 3-hour Raw tonight. For me, this should be sports Nirvana/Valhalla/Eden/Heaven/Whatever-You-Call-Paradise.
But yet with all this, I’m still hopping mad. You see, last night, something historic happened. The Dallas Mavericks won their first title. Originally, I wanted to do this beautiful, well-written emotional blog about how it was finally the Mavericks’ time, much like I did for the Rangers when they won the AL Pennant. But I’m going to be honest. I don’t have the same attachment I have for the Mavs. In my life, there’s baseball and then there’s the other sports.
But I do have some great memories of the Mavs. I’ve only been to one Mavericks game my entire life. (Greatest Christmas present ever! Love you, Beautiful!) I wanted to go see the Hawks because they had just drafted Acie Law IV from Texas A&M. I wore my Hawks jersey (Yeah, I’m that tool who always wears the opposing team’s uniform.), and I was pretty much ignored the whole night (Not like the long walk to Texas Stadium with my Brian Dawkins Eagles jersey). My wife had gotten freakin’ awesome tickets for me. I really wanted to go see this game badly, but she convinced me that I wasn’t going to be able to go because we had been to see a Cowboys/Eagles game. And then on Christmas morning, I opened up a package with an envelope from StubHub that said, “Yes, you’re going!” I opened up and there were tickets to go see the Hawks-Mavericks. And the seats were great. When we went to the game, there was this really beautiful woman sitting two rows ahead of us with about 5 girls, all beautiful young girls. Come to find out, this was the lovely Mrs. Terry. Yeah, we were two rows behind Mrs. Jet. What makes that more impressive is that my wife hates basketball and was willing to sit through it with me.
I remember there were some years you wouldn’t watch the Mavs with somebody else’s eyes. And then Mark Cuban and Don Nelson and Steve Nash and Dirk and Michael Finley happened. And then they started to win. And then you would watch them and support them until they made the playoffs. Then it was just a matter of time before they were eliminated by the Spurs or the Suns or the Lakers. We loved our Mavericks. We were just numb to them in the postseason.
Then we did it. The people of Dallas got their first major title since the Stars brought home the Stanley Cup. I didn’t quite cry like I did when the Rangers won their first pennant. I was still overwhelmed with emotion. There were my Mavs: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion. Mark Cuban let the old Mavericks owner be the first to hoist his trophy. Dirk won the MVP (though I think Jet or Barea could have won it and I’d be happy). It was a beautiful experience. But there was one problem…
Last night’s victory was not about the Mavs winning. It was about the Heat losing. As we should have been watching the people of Dallas celebrating and the Mavs celebrating on the court like they had just won the championship (which they had), we got to watch LeBron James and Dwayne Wade walk to the back, a “walk of shame,” if you will. There was no celebration on the court we got to experience. We got to see two basketball players doing their walk of shame.
This was the Mavericks’ moment. This was a moment for all the players, the owners, the executives, the Mavs dancers, the ManiAAC’s, the drum corps, everybody from Mark Cuban to the security guard who tells you to turn your flash on. They won this title. And most importantly, this was a moment for the people of Dallas. We had seen so many collapses. The ’06 Finals, losing to the Warriors in the first round, watching the Spurs continually spank us til we bleed, seasons we should have worn paper bags on our heads, where you couldn’t get us to buy a Popeye Jones jersey. We stuck with our team. This was our moment. And instead, we got to watch LeBron & D-Wade walk to the locker room.
Not that it wasn’t satisfying watching that, but that was our moment. And now we’re forced to suffer through ESPN Talking Heads talk about LeBron choking, rather than the successes of two NBA legends finally getting their rings (Nowitzki and Jason Kidd), Jason Terry, JJ Barea and the rest of the bench stepping up.
And stop it. All you Talking Heads, just stop it. LeBron James will never be Michael Jordan. They are different players, played in different eras, and they are different people. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West. Those are all great players, and while it’s fun to talk about who was better, can we just give it a rest for a moment? Just a little bit? Can we save this discussion for the drunk guys in the bar?
Congratulations, Mavs, on your first title. And many happy returns.