NBA Finals 2011: Dallas Mavericks Team Up to Stampede Final Barrier, Cool Heat

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NBA Finals 2011: Dallas Mavericks Team Up to Stampede Final Barrier, Cool Heat
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dirk Nowitzki didn't shed a tear on the court, just an unfair image with a 105-95 victory.

Jason Terry did not need to flap his arms because his game had the all-clear from air traffic control to charge into the sky of a champion's eternity. When Nowitzki was an atrocious 1-for-12 in the first half, Terry was a marvelous 8-for-12.

Rick Carlisle suppressed his jubilation until a warm, fitting embrace with Mark Cuban after the final buzzer.

J.J. Barea danced from South Beach to Puerto Rico, mixing agile drives with ballsy three-point hits. His insertion into the starting lineup afforded the Mavs a necessary scoring jolt.

Shawn Marion attached himself to LeBron James' hip and lived with the results, supplementing his adhesive defense with timely buckets to spur runs and rallies.

Ian Mahinmi stepped in for Brendan Haywood, and though he used his hands like a clumsy martial artist and collected five quick fouls, he kept possessions alive for Dallas and nailed a pair of key mid-range shots.

Brian Cardinal graduated from a custodian look-alike to a cog fit to play 12 productive minutes in a Finals closeout game. He tied Jason Kidd and Marion for the team lead in plus/minus (18) and bagged his lone attempt, a three-pointer.

Kidd demonstrated a wisdom and resilience borne from 17 years of close calls, affliction, wrap around passes, triple doubles and four different career stops. He tallied 8 assists in the box score but did so much more to help his teammates navigate the path to atonement.

A foul-plagued Tyson Chandler persevered through tough whistles and the knowledge that his most capable backup, Haywood, was out of commission.

His presence and defensive leadership helped transform a supposed ductile assortment of screwballs into a defensive-minded unit with a heavy metal resolve.

Mark Cuban eschewed controversy and a tripe crybaby act to exude class. He deflected all the praise for the accomplishment to his head coach and his players. He invited the franchise's first owner, Don Carter, to touch and hoist the trophy first.

DeShawn Stevenson zipped his Energizer Bunny-esque pie hole long enough to continue his precision sniper fire and stingy defense. We see you, DeShawn, and you're a champion now.

They're all champions now. They proved the picture of a tumultuous past belonged on an Etch-a-Sketch instead of a museum portrait.

Each indispensable figure completed his own metamorphosis.

Nowitzki turned from supposed choker to undeniable closer, from Byung Hyun Kim in the 2011 World Series giving away successive games in the ninth inning to Mariano Rivera securing the final out.

He missed one free throw the entire series (45-of-46, good for 97 percent) and always showed up in the fourth quarter to do something memorable.

Terry turned from maligned score-first guard replacing beloved Steve Nash to accepted sidekick and complete scoring machine. In Game 6, he was a bona fide freaking terminator with 27 points.

Carlisle finally left the scene of an embarrassing fracas at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004 to join a party 31 years in the making.

There is no doubt now that this Chuck Daly disciple can coach an outfit to 16 playoff wins. He was masterful at times and composed when his team needed a calming influence.

Someone will pay Chandler a lot of money this summer, and he'll earn every penny if he stays healthy. He just provided Cuban with another compelling reason to make sure that destination remains Dallas.

Barea turned from a relative unknown, undersized guard to a steadfast, double figures contributor.

Kidd, once an electrifying fast-break orchestra conductor, adapted to the demands of his position when his speed and athleticism began to betray him.

How many hours did he spend in gyms adding a reliable jumpshot to his arsenal? The player who Cuban said was the reason he bought the Mavs now looks like he belongs third on the all-time made treys list behind Reggie Miller and Ray Allen.

Cuban turned from a chatterbox to an almost monk-like vow of silence throughout the postseason. He purchased a fledgling franchise that was treading water in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico 11 years ago and now has the organization floating to paradise.

The memory of the 2006 collapse may have stained him as much as Nowitzki and Terry. News of premature parade plans leaked when they never should have been imagined until the Mavs closed the deal. He berated referees like a caviling five-year-old son would a stern mother.

Speaking of Stern, there goes the theory that the NBA's commissioner wanted no part of handing Cuban a Larry O'Brien Trophy. If there was an reservation, Stern can take solace that Carter grabbed that shiny golden beacon first.

Cuban knew it was time to shut up and let his players handle the critics. Cuban invested a boatload of money in this roster and his unrelenting fidelity in Nowitzki and Terry paid dividends.

How many armchair GMs suggested the owner should dump one of those two mainstays to kickstart a team demolition?

Cuban and Donnie Nelson jettisoned Josh Howard and other 2006 contributors, but they kept the soul of the squad the same. It was, after all, Terry and Nowitzki's familiar two-man game that carried the Mavs in the clutch.

Dallas' 10 guys beat Miami's three and a half stars. That latter rating might sell a summer blockbuster, but it doesn't win a title.

Mario Chalmers joined the Three Me-Egos (or Stooges), or whatever you want to call them, to earn a hefty extension when his bargain rookie deal expires. The rest of the Heat supporting cast was too inconsistent.

James did not dominate crunch time, falling miserably short of the expectations heaped on him by a populace disgusted by his television special and braggadocio.

For those keeping score, those fan and pundit demands added to his own foolish premonition at a July celebration.

"Not one, not two, not three..." Oops. He has to get one first.

James is talented enough to remove his foot from his mouth, and a nation brimming with detractors will forgive him if he recovers from this humbling defeat to win it all in the next few seasons.

Wade's championship ring and dogmatism in playing with a bum hip will save him from disgrace. He was not spectacular enough in the closing moments to offset the Heat's gaping holes and fatal flaws.

Commend Chris Bosh for recognizing his limitations and congregating with the two all-around stars equipped to make him a winner.

It fit, though, that he sat solo at the podium as the Heat's campaign ended, since he so often looked like a street vendor trying to pass off his cheap imitation watch as a Rolex.

No Miami player struggled or grew more than Bosh. He hadn't emerged on the right end of a playoff series before his much-despised collaboration with Wade and James. If he doesn't own a title yet, at least his resume boasts the big shot from Game 3.

Erik Spoelstra delivered a supreme coaching performance, but he must answer legitimate questions about why his offense stagnated so much when the outcome was up for grabs. Someday soon, he'll get credit for out-dueling Doc Rivers and award-winning Tim Thibodeau.

Miami besting Boston and Chicago must count for something. Those who bought the July hype will decry the Heat's fade as an inexcusable choke job.

Making such lofty guarantees without one practice or scrimmage was irresponsible and reprehensible. That error in judgment also makes this villainous team redeemable.

The Heat didn't need to raise a banner this week. Pat Riley constructed a roster with the top guns necessary to do this a lot.

Now, an unforgettable Sunday in June and this title belong to the Mavs. They traversed a confusing, daunting road to salvation, and the worthy victors deserve to bathe in congratulations.

Carlisle coached a bunch with an average age above 30 past three Western Conference terrors. His squad was the overwhelming pick to lose in three of the four triumphs.

The Mavs ousted the Portland Trail Blazers after a Game 4 gag threatened to get those ghosts of playoffs past howling again.

Dallas followed that by sweeping the two-time defending champions. L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant said after the defeat the 2010-2011 season was a wasted year of his life.

The Mavs then dispatched Kevin Durant's Thunder.

A rematch with Miami offered one final test this veteran cast was prepared to ace.

Billy Hunter and the players, and Stern and the owners will make sure Dallas savors this win for a long time by jeopardizing next season with a contentious lockout. A pending work stoppage provided the Mavs extra circumstantial fuel.

Nine members of the Mavs' roster boast at least 10 years of NBA experience. None of them wanted an extended layoff to ponder another crushing failure with finality so close for so many.

From Nowitzki to Stevenson, the Dallas Mavericks completed a dramatic transformation.

They're champions now. They're champions forever.

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