As the 4th quarter started on Saturday, I sat and watched the game with an apprehensive state of mind. Would the Mavs go out swinging and pick up at least 1 win in the series? Or would they fold and let the Thunder storm back in it with a fury? Well, we all know what happened. Shortly after the final buzzer, I just sat still with the sound off. My earlier yelling had scared my wife and she stayed in the bedroom so I had time for private reflection.
“They was a better team. They did everything right and everything bounced their way, and it’s frustrating when you’re sitting here thinking about, contemplating what’s the scenario, this or that. But at the end of the day, we have a lot of free agents on this team and we’re going to see what’s going to happen for the summer and go from there.”
My first thought was obviously anger. I despised the fact that a player like Russell Westbrook was getting a chance to wrap the series up on our floor. I was angry that so many Mavs “fans” let their tickets go to OKC fans. I was upset that we blew a lead…..again. But a part of me was happy that this Mavs team was put out their misery. The whole season was full of heart break and disappointment. But the final buzzer on Saturday night finally pulled the plug on this season that was on bed rest.
“Time goes by fast and it doesn’t seem like 11 months ago,” Carlisle said. But look, as great as the championship run was, there always comes a time when you have to look forward and that’s where things are at now. I look at this summer for this franchise as a summer of opportunity and excitement, and I don’t think anybody should look at it any differently.”
I keep a glass cabinet in my living room with my favorite pieces of sports memorabilia. As I sat and replayed the game in my head I looked over and saw the few sports illustrated magazines and the championship hat from last year. I couldn’t help but think about this time last year as we were finishing off the Trailblazers. We had no idea what we were about to experience. We had no idea of the amazing run that we were in for. My mind shot back to reality and I see the Thunder celebrating a sweep. My how things have changed in a year.
There are a lot of built in excuses for the Maverick’s 2012 Season. We all know the loss of Tyson Chandler was an issue, especially in the playoffs. We all know about the Lamar Odom situation and how it seemed to sabotage the season. A shortened season was also a factor due to the limited practice time. There’s also the fact that the Mavericks were the oldest team in the league. But with our cautious optimism, we thought that veteran leadership and experience would get us past teams in the postseason. “Just make the playoffs”. That was our motto all season as this team made it through the regular season. Well, we made the playoffs, but our Title defense wasn’t much of a defense at all. Other than 3 hard fought “moral victories”, the Mavs were sent home in the worst way possible……sweep.
It almost seems unfair that this team wasn’t allowed a fighters chance of a repeat. We lost important pieces of the roster before the season even began. But it also seemed that starting the day after our championship; the media was out to get this team. “Can the Mavs repeat?” “The Mavs got lucky and caught a Heat team that played badly.” Even during this season we had to hear Charles Barkley say that “Dirk is done.” We most recently had to hear Colin Cowherd say that “Dirk isn’t an elite player.” The Mavericks championship was tossed to the stack with the 2003 Marlins, 2006 Heat, 2000 Ravens, and other teams that got “lucky” or “one hit wonders”. It’s as if the franchise or the city isn’t sexy enough for the media because Dirk shoots jumpers and because we don’t have a player that dunks over KIAs. And don’t be fooled. This Mavericks team was counted out even before we lost Tyson Chandler. People still couldn’t believe their eyes as this team sent the Heat home in 6 games. We weren’t talked about as contenders for 2012.
Although I despise fans that always point to past titles during a sports argument, its 100% allowable in this case. Sometimes I feel that nobody understands or respects this team outside the city of Dallas and the few scattered Mavs fans throughout the nation. Even Dallas’ very own media talking heads count this team out year after year. A majority of them were guilty of it even last year. That’s you TIM COWLISHAW! If an “analyst” or “expert” or anyone else tries telling you that this team didn’t deserve last years title, or that we’re “one and done”, or that this team showed its true colors in 2012, be sure to remind them of one of the greatest playoff performances the game has ever seen in 2011. Be sure to tell them about the legend of Dirk Nowitzki who has been counted out and been called “done” and “soft” to this day.
What the common person or NBA bandwagon fan (98% of Thunder fans) doesn’t learn from the media is that outside of the Lakers and Spurs, no other team in the Western Conference has been as dominant in the last decade as the Mavericks have. They’ve had 12 straight playoff appearances which are second most to the Spurs and are one of only 3 Western Conference teams that have won a title since 1995. The Mavericks were once one of the worst sports franchises of all time. Dallas has dug itself out from the darkest basement to the top of the basketball world. So it’s a bit disturbing to see this franchise constantly treated like they’re at the kids table at Thanksgiving dinner. Always looking to sit with the big kids but getting patted on the head and being told to “run along” and play with the other franchises.
The Mavericks may look much different in November of 2012. It’s highly likely that we’ll be without Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. Oh, but what a ride it was. There will be a number “31” and “2” in the rafters when it’s all said and done. The Mavericks will have many new changes to the roster with the loss of free agents and with the acquisitions of new, younger talent. As great as the past decade has been, the recent sweep of the Mavericks should not mean doom and gloom. It’s only a speed bump on the road back to title town. We should all just trust that Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson will make the best decision given the financial resources. Its going to be a great off season.
So ends my first edition of “In The Paint” Hope you all enjoyed!
Stand tall and proud, Maverick fans.
May 10 , 2012