The story was not the Dallas Mavericks and their incredible shooting, it was the Lakers collapse. Then it was how the Thunder were not ready.
Now, it was how the Miami Heat lacked discipline, could not execute at the end of games and how LeBron James faltered.
That’s not what the story should be.
The real story is the Dallas Mavericks are NBA champions because they are the best team. They won it. The Lakers and Thunder and Heat didn’t lose it, Dallas took it from them with better team play, better execution. A lot of us — myself included — were late to appreciating the Mavs and what they were doing, the kind of run they were on, where it would lead. But that’s about us. They believed in what they were doing and kept going forward, getting better with each step.
Going into the season Dallas was considered part of the second tier in the West, part of the great gaggle of teams trying to chase the Lakers down. Then Rodrigue Beaubois injured his foot and missed much of the season, and we thought it robbed them of needed athleticism. Caron Butler blew out his knee and we thought the Mavs were toast without their best perimeter player and a key defender.
More than that, though, we felt like we ha seen this movie before. Dallas wins 50 plus games every year, yet we had been conditioned to expect playoff failure. Why was this year going to be different?
You can’t just pinpoint one thing that caused the change. Maybe it was a more vocal Dirk Nowitzki, who brought more leadership to go with his incredible game, something Mark Cuban mentioned after Game 6. Maybe it was Tyson Chandler bringing a new defensive attitude to the team. Maybe it was everyone really buying into Rick Carlisle’s system. Maybe it was having a veteran team that understood executing under pressure. Maybe it was Jason Terry and J.J. Barea hitting crazy shot after crazy shot.
Most likely it was all of those things coming together at the same time.
That wasn’t sexy enough for all of us. Dallas wasn’t flash, it was just a lot of good players all pulling on the rope in the same direction, executing game plans. They adjusted — in the first few games of this series the Heat’s quick closeouts seemed to rattle Mavs shooters, but by the end they were used to it and draining all those shots.
Dallas won this series and won the title. Don’t just think Miami lost it — the best team won. The Mavs were smarter on the court, stronger mentally. And they deserve all the spoils coming to them.