The Dallas Mavericks run in the 2011 postseason was majestic.
Dallas' determination and drive was demonstrable.
The Mavs magic ran deep—the peak performances of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry were legendary, legacy-building, superb and spectacular.
What Dirk did—dominating the defense, driving when it was needed, hitting unbelievable turnaround one-footed fadeaways, willing his team to victory while sick with a 102-degree fever—won him the NBA Finals MVP and cemented him among at least the top 50 all time in the NBA, if not higher.
How well Jason Kidd played—the 38-year-old veteran playing for the same team that gave him his original chance in the NBA—his relentless energy on defense against two of the deadliest scorers in the game and his solid shooting from beyond the arc showed he too should be considered one of the absolute greatest in NBA history. He's been an ambassador of the game.
And when Nowitzki was out of his element in Game 6, Jason Terry took over. He spotted up and knocked down threes with the pure touch only a veteran shooter could develop over 12 seasons. In fact, in the last two championship-securing wins of the season, Terry averaged 24 points per game (21, 17) on 68 percent shooting, with four assists and 3.5 rebounds.
Shawn Marion's deft defense against LeBron James was somewhat underrated, while his aggressive offense around the rim, putting up and in wild-looking layups was vintage Marion, important to the Mavericks successes.
Together, the determination of those four to win Dallas' first NBA championship pushed the Mavericks past the star-studded Heat in a beautiful basketball moment.
Still, only days after winning the title, no doubt the entire rest of the league wants a shot at Dirk and Dallas.
Which teams are the best equipped? What players are the in the top position to challenge for a championship?
This is a list of the top five teams that will contend for the NBA title in 2012.