I’ve loved them since before this duo graced the court.
Since the three J’s.
Through the miseries of the 90s. Through the heart-breaking ’06 finals. Through years and years and different combinations of players who were just almost, but not quite, there.
And finally…this team made it happen. Why?
Because of loyalty. Because substance triumphs over style. Because the Big One chose loyalty to his team over flash and “Decisions” and what not.
Because 13 years ago, a young German kid came to America with big dreams, a big work ethic and big ideas of loyalty to teammates and friends.
And from that season, he grew up. He changed. He had short hair; he had long hair. He played all-star, MVP-level basketball with taunts and accusations flying at him. He played with cool, Teutonic levelheadedness. He played with another player’s teeth embedded in his elbow, still making perfect free throws. In fact, his free throw shooting is part of what marks him as one of the best to ever play. He played with a 102-degree fever, while LeBron and D-Whistle mocked him for the cameras, insinuating that he might fake an illness because he was afraid of them. But, obviously, he knows no fear.
And finally, after 13 years, he walked away last night with this.
When the Mavs won, the first thing I did after the rejoicing stilled at our house was to call my 75-year-old grandmother. Obviously, a love for sports is hereditary in my family, as she said, “I’ve been laughing, crying, everything over here. I can hardly believe it.” She was almost too excited to even stay on the phone.
Living in Spurs Country for the past two years has been difficult. But this long-awaited, hard-fought, underdog-style victory makes up for it. How sweet it is to finally see our Mavericks carry home the trophy. How sweet it is to see Dirk vindicated from the taunts of being soft and not being able to finish. And, how sweet it is to watch a reporter ask “King James” if he choked and watch his arrogance in deferring that question to Dwayne Wade, as if it’s beneath his notice to discuss the fact that, yes, he did actually choke and let his team down.
I’ve been a Mavs fan for almost 27 long years, and this finals championship is the sweetest gift a sports fanatic girl like me could receive.
*All photos are linked back to the locations where I found them on the Internet.