Monday, June 13, 2011

Yes We Did

(Okay, so I have to figure this title for a blog post is going to be used 600 times in the next two days, but I’m riding with it anyway...)

I have to say, with the Mavericks winning the championship, it’s feels like a major anticlimax. My wife even commented that I didn’t giggle near the end of this game like I did in some of the other games of this series and earlier in the playoffs.

It’s true, and I think that’s because the best parts of a championship season are all the moments where you think you’re going to win it all, even though it hasn’t happened yet. Once the final moment comes, it’s really more of a relief––that the team didn’t blow such a great opportunity––than anything.

Lots of the press have commented recently, and I think they’re right, that we spend so much time discussing legacy and story and greatness and such while the games are happening, that there’s not much left to say once the season is over. We’ve spent the past two weeks obsessing over the possibility of the Mavericks reversing the 2006 Finals with poetic justice, and drooling over how Dirk can finally cement his place as an all-time great.

(I can’t resist a couple of stats to throw in: with the last two wins against the Heat, the Mavericks now have a winning record in the playoffs over the past 11 seasons, going 65-63. This playoff run also means they have now won more playoff series than they’ve lost over that span as well, going 13-10 in series. Not counting tonight’s game, Dirk has career playoff averages of 26.0 points (on 46.5% shooting) and 10.4 rebounds per game. But again, we already knew about Dirk’s numbers; the championship just means no one can say they’re empty numbers anymore.)

I’ll celebrate the championship, but what I hope I remember more is what it was like to watch all the games along the way: the relief of winning game 5 against the Blazers after blowing game 4, and JJ Barea hitting the and-one with Andrew Bynum’s flagrant foul in the sweep of the Lakers (see the website, and laughing through Dirk’s absurd 12-for-15 shooting in game 1 against the Thunder, then watching with disbelief as the Mavericks erased a 15-point Thunder lead in game 4 of that series, and then watching in even greater disbelief as the Mavericks did the same thing to the Heat with the season practically on the line in game 2 of the Finals.

Forget espn classic, which I don’t watch anyway. We got to see the games live, and it was as much fun as you can really hope to have watching TV, plus we got to crash facebook after every game and celebrate with the community, even though my Mavs fan friends are all over the globe. When Dirk hit a big shot, this series, I was never surprised; when he kept missing during the first half tonight, I never worried about whether he would get his touch back. When he hit 10 points for the fourth quarter *again* tonight, it was just gravy. The missed shot at the end of game 3 was a genuine shock, and that says something about a player.

From here on, everything changes. Next year (if the season happens), we get to just enjoy what comes without all the angst and doubt. Unless the Mavericks can pull off another year like this, other teams will always have longer dynasties and more title banners. But that’s the great thing about a championship: this year is all that matters. For this year, Dirk was the best when the game was on the line. For this year, no deficit was too big to race back from. For this year, not a single team could blow the Mavericks out of a single playoff game. For this year, Terry was fearless (and money) when the biggest games were on the line. For this year, JJ Barea was a crunch-time contributor in the deciding game of the season. For this year, our team was better, and played better.

As my wife posted on facebook tonight, Thank God it’s finally over. I think we can all use a little rest.

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