(author's note: It's rivalry week on SBNation. On Wednesday, Lisa will write about the Spurs, voted by you guys as the number one Maverick rivalry. Leading up to that, look for a few posts talking about teams that didn't quite make the cut. Here's one of the rivalries I care the most about.)
I've broken one TV remote in my life.
There's a lot of great rivalries that include the Mavericks. That's a good thing -- nobody hears about the Bobcats' or the Wizards' bitter rivalry with each other. Two good rivals sustained by both teams consistently remaining competitive against each other. The playoffs amp it up even further, when the games get tighter and emotions flare just a little bit higher. Throw in some physical play, a little clutch back-and-forth when it matters, maybe a touch of trash talk before and after the games, and that rivalry is looking better and better. If the right mix of ingredients, like those, are given a chance to stew for a while, they can make an incredibly intense rivalry.
There's a shortcut, if that recipe is too difficult: take a close playoff game, intentionally foul the opposing team's star player, and watch the refs not call the foul and the player drain a game winning three pointer. Yeah, that will start up a rivalry in no time.
Just in case it's not obvious, I'm referring to the 2009 playoff series against Denver. Maybe it's just me, maybe nobody else cares about that anymore, but I am still not over that series, and the Antoine Wright intentional non-foul. This history lesson will be brief, so hang on. It was Game 3, after Denver had taken the first two games in a raucous Pepsi Center. The whole game to that point had been incredibly physical, and the refs were accounting for it plus some, with a staggering 61 fouls called in that game. Leading 105-103 with a foul to give, Antoine Wright checked Carmelo and gave him a bump. It was not a well executed intentional foul -- Wright didn't wrap up, did back away with hands raised as if he didn't foul, and didn't finish the play -- but by the standards the refs and their 61 fouls had set, it was definitely a foul. What should have been a sideline inbounds by Denver, with just a couple seconds remaining, turned into the Carmelo heroics that is now written in the history books.
I didn't like that bad call. It's more than that, though. I didn't like Kenyon Martin, his flagrant fouls, or his explicit tantrums. I didn't like Chauncy Billups, his feigned disbelief when a ref called a foul on him (or didn't call a foul against him), or his inaccurate nickname based off of one shot. I didn't like Chris Andersen, his accurate but annoying nickname, or his cocky play style. I sure as hell didn't like Carmelo.
Of all the post-seasons to think that the Mavericks could have done more, this probably isn't the one. James Singleton, Gerald Green, and Ryan Hollins combined for twenty-five total minutes in that Game 3. This was probably not the championship squad by fifteen-year old self thought it was.
It didn't matter. That call pushed me over the edge. My TV remote never saw it coming as it went flying into an equally shocked wall. On that day, my hatred of the Nuggets was born. I know the Mavericks, deep-down, share a least a little of my same resentment, and for me, that's enough.
I'm looking forwards to Dallas beating the hell out of Denver in the coming years. I'll get a back-up remote, though -- just in case.