Editor's Note: Here is submission number two. Again, read it and enjoy it, discuss the content, or discuss the writing. Maybe don't make comparisons to previous posts... let's keep everyone's feelings intact :)
What a difference a ring makes, huh?
A month ago, with the Mavericks about to enter the Western Conference Finals I wrote this:
“If there’s a lockout next year Dirk will be 34 when he comes back. Terry might be gone. Chandler and Butler aren’t signed beyond this year, and Kidd’ll be gone. People, for no particular reason, have been saying this for years—that this is the Maverick’s last chance. This time they might be right: this might be it.”
Which, actually, could still be true. Feels a bit better now, though, don’t it?
I used to say that the two dumbest things anyone could be passionate about-- which were, and are, the two things I’m most passionate about--are sports and politics. Because you basically never win either one, and they make you absolutely furious the rest of the time.
This one’s DEFINITELY still true. But I missed one thing, which is the major difference between sports and politics. In politics, every battle you win, whichever side you’re on, you have to keep winning every two or four years.
In sports, when you win, well--- not a thing, not a person, not Bennett Salvatore, not the ANGEL OF DEATH HIMSELF (herself?)--
Can take away the fact that your Mavericks were, are, and ever more will be the 2010-2011 NBA Champions. For the rest of history that will stay happened. Name on the trophy. Memory in our hearts. When Dirk was at his best, and nobody would let us lose.
And there are more things we’ll always have:
Dirk’s ring and NBA Finals MVP trophy.
NBA TV games that we might actually watch because, unlike 2006, they finally had the Hollywood ending they deserved.
The great games themselves: The two 15 point, five minutes left comebacks; the 48 points on 12-15 shooting, consecutive free throw record, true shooting percentage record, the Dirk-could-trip-dribbling-at-the-three-point-line-and-it-would-bounce-into-the-net game; the flu game, 2; the torn tendon game. Phil Jackson punching Pau Gasol in the chest.
And so on.
Dirk daggers. Terry daggers. Kidd daggers. And the unforgettable Ian Mahinmi dagger.
And so on!
Don’t get me wrong. I want the rest of Dirk’s prime to be full of championships. I want another one next year, the year after that, the year after that. I want eight-peats. Three of them.
I want Dirk to play into his 80s, until, one day, he goes up for a one-legged Euro lean back, and instead of coming back down, the angels just lift him up into heaven.
But, look. Just over a month ago, the Mavs were down 0-1 to the Miami Heat, and five minutes from going down 0-2, and maybe missing this chance. Less than three months ago, they lost a huge lead in the fourth to the Portland Trailblazers, a game that tied the series 2-2 after they were up 2-0. On the verge of, you know, that same old song. But worse.
Because, one, everybody’s in their mid-thirties now. Dirk was 28 when the Mavs lost to the Heat last time. As much as it felt like the end of the world at the time, we now know—obviously—it wasn’t. And two, thanks to contracts, the lockout, a new and likely repressive CBA on its way, next year’s team or, worst case scenario, the year after next’s team, could be, is somewhat likely to be, dramatically different, one way or the other.
It’s not like none of that matters now, either. But, at the time, with the prospect of defeat still in the air, it looked like it could be the end of the world.
Last call. Sunset. The Mavspocalypse.
What a difference a ring makes.
We’ll always have this:
If it was the last dance, and God and Cuban willing it wasn’t, your Dallas Mavericks wouldn’t let it end without kissing the head cheerleader. No matter how many football captains they had to go through to do it.
No matter how many points stood between them and victory, no matter how little time was left on the clock.
No matter how many closers, and scoring champs, and self-crowned kings stood in their way.
And now, forever, we will all have that. We will always have 2011.
So here's the question: What do we have to do to keep it going?