There Are No Shortcuts: The NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks

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Our 2011 NBA Champions!!!
(image by Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

The Dallas Mavericks proved that winning an NBA Championship is not to be compared to making instant noodles. You don’t just add hot water and wait 3 minutes.

You go through more.

Much more.

You lose your top scorer for 9 games after he comes down awkwardly on his right leg.

Caron Butler was sidelined even
before the season was halfway done
(image by Gary Dineen/Getty Images)
You lose your second most explosive player to a season-ending knee injury.

You lose 10 of your next 13 games.

And then just when you make the playoffs, you go through some more.

People pick Portland over you, despite you having home-court.

People pick the Lakers, THE defending champs, to trample all over you in the next round.

People pick the Thunder, powered by perhaps the most exciting young duo of All-Stars in the game today, to win the Western Conference title over you.

And, of course, the Heat are picked to win the first of their promised seven titles.

How’s that for adversity?

First-time champion Jason Kidd had this to say, "We got off to a great start at the beginning of the season. Dirk was playing (really well) and then we lose Caron and Dirk. And so everybody wrote us off but ourselves. I think going through that period where we lost six in a row and looked at each other and said we got to find a way, because those two aren't coming back anytime soon. Guys stepped up, and we turned it around. I think just going through the journey of those injuries made us a better team, because we had to do a lineup change, and then we did the lineup change during The Finals and we didn't skip a beat. We just kept playing. That just shows the character of this team."

Character. Yes, adversity tends to hone that in men.

And now these men are the NBA Champions. The first for the franchise. The first sports title for the city since the Dallas Stars won the 1999 Stanley Cup.

And after such a long and winding road, after the plethora of comebacks, after all the big shots, and after defeating younger, stronger, faster, higher-leaping opponents, the Golden Guys of Texas have the only gold that matters in the world of the NBA.

JJ Barea was the surprise package
for everyone in the playoffs
(image by Gary Dineen/Getty Images)
And for many of these road warriors, this validates the years of toil and frustration that have characterized their careers. Undrafted and unheralded JJ Barea goes back to Puerto Rico with a championship ring. Caron Butler’s knee injury seems a little easier to bear. Shawn Marion returns to everyone’s memory. Peja Stojakovic can now laugh at all those failed years in Sacramento. Tyson Chandler has evolved from being just another pre-to-pro.

But the three biggest winners here?

Jason Terry can heave a sigh of relief for having the O’Brien trophy tattooed on his arm.

Jason Kidd has come full circle – winning with the franchise that drafted him 17 years ago.

Dirk Nowitzki is now the undisputed best Euro to ever play in the NBA. The German Bird (Larry, that is).

It’s been a long journey for these Mavs. They’ve gone through a lot, been doubted and denied. But now, after going through the long, tough route, the Dallas Mavericks are the NBA Champions.

No preseason parties. No ESPN specials. No high-powered highflyers.

No shortcuts.

Shawn Marion made us reminisce about his good old days
(image by Brian Babineau/Getty Images)
Dirk and Terry return home as champions
(image by the AP)
These golden oldies are the newly-minted kings of the NBA
(image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Here's the NBA Finals Game 6 Mini-Movie:

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