Monday, June 13, 2011

Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry earn crown jewel of their careers

After six years of lugging one hardship after another into an off-season of discontent, these are finally the best of times for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.

No more broken promises. No more stories about what could have been.

Nowitzki, Terry and the Dallas Mavericks could have been celebrating their third world title in the past six seasons.

However, the Mavericks blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Miami Heat in the 2006 Finals. And in 2007, the Mavericks had the best record in the NBA, but became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed when they were embarrassed by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

Bad timing, an awful set of circumstances and terrible misfortune always prevented the Mavericks from winning the NBA title.

Until Sunday.

That's when the Mavericks upended the Heat 105-95 and captured their first NBA title. The results turned out to be the crown jewel of the professional careers of Terry and Nowitzki, both of whom have endured fan criticism while carrying the overwhelming burden of trying to bring an NBA title to Dallas.

They don't have to carry that burden anymore. And for that, they're thankful.

"My faith, first of all, is in God, and with that comes the confidence knowing that you can be successful when you play with guys like we have on this team," Terry said. "You look at what Dirk was able to accomplish this postseason -- he played like no other.

"The year he won MVP [in 2007] doesn't even compare to what he did this year in the postseason. All the critics talked about was what he couldn't do, where he fell short, but to carry this team the way he's done is just phenomenal. I'm just happy to be a part of it."

Nowitzki was voted the MVP of the Finals -- a unanimous 9-0 vote -- after averaging 26 points and 9.7 rebounds against the Heat.

Terry and Nowitzki are the only Mavericks players who were on the 2006 squad that lost to the Heat in the Finals in six games. Avenging that loss was sweet for those two, especially Nowitzki.

After all, last summer Nowitzki was a free agent and was in position to leave Dallas and play for another team. But unlike LeBron James, who broke many hearts in Cleveland when he left the Cavaliers last summer and took his free-agent talents to South Beach, Nowitzki decided to stay in Dallas.

"That's something I'll look back to. I can always look back to the '10-'11 season and say, 'We're the world champs,'" Nowitzki said. "Nobody can ever take that away from me, so that's really the best thing about this.

"Sticking to Dallas, that was the plan. We fell short so many times, and I committed for four more years [last] summer, and we didn't really know what was going to happen. It wouldn't have felt right to win it somewhere else. I'm happy. I obviously made the right decision.

"And this is also for the Mavs fans, who have been through a lot of disappointments with me over the last couple of years. And they always stuck with me and kept supporting us, and the gym was always full in Dallas during the regular season. This is for them."

Nowitzki and Terry were the alpha and the omega all series long against the Heat. That was even more apparent in Game 6.

In the first half Sunday, Nowitzki struggled with his shot, scoring just three points on 1-of-12 shooting. During that period, Terry was 8 of 10 from the floor and scored 19 points as the Mavericks clung to a 53-51 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Nowitzki finally found his shooting stroke and converted 8 of 15 shots while scoring 18 points.

"I think [Terry] watched me struggle there early, and he took it upon himself to really attack and look for his shot and get going early," Nowitzki said.

"Man, he kept coming all night long. He was continue:

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