Chalk one up for the good guys.
It was a battle of good versus evil and loyalty versus betrayal, the final score reads 4-2 in the favor of the good and loyal.
The 2011 NBA Final ended just as you would expect every fairy tale or super hero movie to end — with the good guys on top.
Sunday night, with a 105-95 victory in Game 6, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Miami Heat and sent LeBron James back to South Beach to rediscover his talents.
The journey traveled by these two teams is as different as day and night and winning and losing.
This past summer, while LeBron James was betraying the city of Cleveland and teaming up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to create the most hated team in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki remained loyal and returned to Mark Cuban and the Mavericks.
LeBron James was possibly the most courted superstar free agent in NBA history. Dirk Nowitzki was possibly the least courted superstar in NBA history. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the one and only team to reach out to Nowitzki was Dallas.
Heading into the season, everyone expected the Heat to contend and possibly win the NBA title, the Dallas Mavericks on the other hand, were an afterthought.
Heading into the 2011 NBA Finals, everyone expected the Heat to dominate the Mavericks and deprive Nowitzki of his one final goal: an NBA championship.
Heading into the offseason, everyone should be scratching their head and wondering what in the world just happened while the other 29 NBA teams ponder why they didn’t even put in a call to Nowitzki.
Was it his ‘soft’ reputation? Or maybe teams felt he was too old to build around? Could it have been his record of underachieving in the playoffs and his inability to win it all?
Whatever it was, Nowitzki proved everyone wrong, including me. I didn’t expect the Mavericks to make it out of the first round. When they did, I thought there was no way they were taking down the two-time defending NBA Champion Lakers. In the conference finals, I believed this was the Thunder’s year and Kevin Durant would shine.
My pick for the NBA Finals was the Heat in five. The Heat were playing too well. Wade, James and Bosh were on a mission and an old Jason Kidd, a soft Dirk Nowitzki and a streaky Jason Terry weren’t going to stand in their way.
Not only did they stand in their way, the Mavericks stopped the Heat dead in their tracks and then decided to trample over them as they raced ahead to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
The Heat needed the arrogant and self-centered James that starred in “The Decision,” not the insecure and unconfident James that shows up on the big stage. Maybe the series would have ended differently had James performed the way we expected him to, but he didn’t.
Sunday night, Dirk Nowitzki finally won his first NBA championship and was awarded the Most Valuable Player award.
One day, LeBron James may achieve both of those feats, but Nowitzki also accomplished something LeBron James will never be able to do: Nowitzki promised the city of Dallas a championship, and he delivered; James promised the city of Cleveland a championship, but ended up ripping their hearts out on national television.
The summer of 2010 for LeBron James was definitely a rough one. After choking in the finals and acting ignorant, childish and senseless during the post-series press conferences, the summer of 2011 could be even worse. And, to top it all off, James gets to return to the broken-hearted state of Ohio for the offseason. Oh how sweet it is.