Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks Should Be Feared by Every NBA Team

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2011

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 16:  Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks talks after the Dallas Mavericks Victory Parade at American Airlines Center on June 16, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Didn't the Dallas Mavericks win the 2011 NBA Championship? Or did I just dream that? I mean, I have been a tragically die-hard Mavs fan for the last 10 years, so I wouldn't be surprised if I just imagined 2011 in an effort to forget all the previous playoff woes.

Let me look it up real quick...OK, yeah. They did win it all. That's odd. All I hear about heading into this season are the Clippers, Heat, Bulls, Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Hornets, Knicks, Thunder—basically everyone but the Mavs.

I can't think of another championship team in any sport that has been more quickly dismissed than these Dallas Mavericks. Even when we do hear about the Finals, it's always from Miami's perspective. What a joke. I'm angry about the blatant lack of respect for Dirk and his teammates. Just imagine how the players themselves feel.

A big part of why Dallas won last year was the old chip on the shoulder. After being so disrespected this offseason, these players should have entire tree trunks on their shoulders now. Dirk, Jasons Kidd and Terry, Shawn Marion and the other returners will definitely be motivated to dominate this year.

New additions Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Delonte West all add some versatility and firepower to a team that really only lost one major piece (Tyson Chandler) to last year's championship puzzle. Odom is the most intriguing acquisition. It's rare for a player to be able to play both point guard and center. Odom has that kind of versatility.

And as for the loss of Chandler, it's a big deal, but don't discount Brendan Haywood so fast. He's not as mobile or athletic, but his toughness and commitment on defense are right on par with Chandler. When Dallas first acquired Haywood from the Wizards a couple years ago, he provided a huge lift inside. The difference between he and Dampier was immense.

In spite of the fact that the experts act like they don't even exist, the Mavericks should be considered the favorite in the Western Conference. They have a great shot at repeating as NBA champions in 2012.

Andy Bailey is on Twitter.