Dirk No-ring-ski no more: Dallas Mavericks capture NBA title
By Homer D. Sayson
14 Jun 2011
NO-RING-SKI. No-win-ski. No more.
The doubters can now put all those disparaging remarks to bed. Dirk Nowtizki is an NBA champion, at last. He also has a Finals MVP award to go with it, and a place in history as one of the best power forwards of all time.
"I really still can't believe it," said Nowitzki, whose 13-year title chase finally ended Sunday night when the Dallas Mavericks secured Game 6 of the NBA Finals,105-95, to clinch the championship series 4-2 over the Miami Heat at the Ameircan Airlines Arena in Miami.
This paves the way for the horror that was 2006 to slowly begin to dissipate. And like most other obstacles, this triumph, this long journey from depression to redemption, wasn't easy.
The 7-foot Nowitzki was arctic cold to start Game 6, missing 11 of his first 12 field goals. "I couldn't make a shot to save my life," he said to describe his early struggles.
But just as he was there for them all throughout these rugged playoffs, Dirk's teammates were there for him. Jason Terry's 19 first half points, Deshawn Stevenson's barrage of 3s and JJ Barea's playmaking kept the Mavericks afloat until the Big German came around.
It was a rollercoaster opening half as Miami led by 9 early, only to trail by 12 midway through the second quarter. A 14-0 spurt wrapped around a pair of 3s from Heat reserve Eddie House trimmed the Dallas lead to 53-51 at halftime.
Dallas stepped on the gas in the third quarter and led 82-72 entering the final frame. That double-digit cushion proved enough to parry the desperate Heat as Nowitzki came up huge -- again -- in the final 12 minutes, pumping 10, including a fall-away jumper that pushed the Mavericks ahead, 99-89 with 2:27 to go.
"THE GHOSTS of 2006 are destroyed," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said in reference to Dallas' 2006 NBA Finals nightmare, when the team surrendered a 2-0 lead and lost the series 4-2, including the Game 6 clincher that saw the Miami Heat celebrate on the Mavs' homefloor.
Five agonizing years later, it's payback time for Dirk and the Mavs.
After all the cheesy swagger and cheap talk about winning a cluster of championships, the re-tooled Miami Heat, a stud-ladden team bannered by Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, couldn't come through.
"Their time will come," added Carlisle, "but now is our time."
Nowitzki finished with 21 and 11 rebounds. Terry had 27 and Barea added 15 points and 5 assists. Shawn Marion threw in 12 points while 38-year old Jason Kidd, who had been fishing for a ring for 17 years in the NBA, saw his dream to fruition by chipping in 9 points and 8 assists.
Dallas shot 50 percent from the field (41-of-82) and 11 of 26 beyond the arc. Miami didn't shoot as well, making just 34 of 72 shots and 7 of 23 triples. The Mavs had one fewer assists with 19 but they outrebounded the Heat, 40-39.
Dwyane Wade didn't show any signs of being bothered by an injured hip. He did, however, seemed perturbed by the Mavericks' zone defense. Wade had only 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting and he had five turnovers, including two late in the fourth quarter.
SPEAKING of fourth quarter, LeBron James was again a no-show. The man who fancies himself as King, didn't have the shine to match his regal hype. James, who had 6 turnovers, tallied 21 points and 6 assists, but he wasn't a factor in the closing 12 minutes, watching helplessly as Dallas fulfilled its date with destiny.
Bosh had a strong 19 points and 8 rebounds, but the Heat didn't have neither the offensive firepower nor the defensive wherewithal to deny the determined Mavericks.
With two superstars -- Wade and James, and one star -- Bosh, Miami was heavily favored to win this year's NBA crown.
But the math didn't add up in the end.
While Dallas only had one superstar in Nowitzki, the Mavericks were an army of one.
The Mavs were united and unselfish. Unfazed by all the glitter that was South Beach.
Miami had several individual works of art. Dallas simply had team work.
And, as it turned out, it was more than enough. (Homer D. Sayson)
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