It was just twelve years ago today – June 12th, 2011 – that the Dallas Mavericks won their first and only title in franchise history.
Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks had a string of disappointing seasons leading up to this remarkable moment.
In the past, the Mavericks seemed to always find a way to lose, despite impressive regular season performances. They had been labeled as first-round exits year after year; that was their reputation. Most infamously, in 2007, the 67-win Mavericks collapsed in the first round against the 8th-seeded ‘We Believe’ Warriors (Thank you, Milwaukee, for being the most recent one seed to collapse). This embarrassment was, of course, preceded by the 2006 Finals loss to Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
None of those shortcomings mattered on June 12th, 2011. There were always those who discredited or questioned the legitimacy of the Mavericks, year after year. We had seen this movie before, so why would we believe they could ever get the job done?
The road to the 2011 championship was grueling.
The team that nobody wanted to play was the Portland Trail Blazers, led by All-Star guard Brandon Roy. Dallas faced this Blazers team and handled them in 6-games, only to run into the LA Lakers.
Kobe Bryant was seeking to threepeat for the second time in his hall-of-fame career. Dallas swept the back-to-back champions to face then a young, up-and-coming Thunder team (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka).
After winning the Western Conference in 5 games, Dallas was greeted with the opportunity to take on The Heatles in their first season together.
Nobody picked Dallas, not only in the Finals but in each series leading up. That didn’t matter to Nowitzki nor to anyone in Dallas.
But none of the predictions or criticisms mattered.
Nowitzki solidified his name and his team as NBA champions.