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NBA Finals Blog: Mavericks fall to the Heat in Game 6
When our schedule came out at the beginning of the playoffs, I thought my chances were good to see the Mavericks close out the series during Game 6, which I was working.
I had always visualized the Mavericks winning, even as Jason Terry’s final 3 pointer of the year was in the air.
It never crossed my mind that I might have to have the image of Dwayne Wade triumphantly launching the basketball into the air as the clock expired burned into my memory forever.
But that’s the way it happened, and we can’t go back and change it. The refs were atricious, again — the Heat were grabbing Mavericks at will and the refs just watched, while again they gave Dwayne Wade every call. But the Mavericks still could have won. They just couldn’t hit their shots.
It’s frustrating, since the Mavericks could have had Game 3, should have had Game 5, and could have had Game 6. But they couldn’t hold big leads. They never figured out Dwayne Wade, and when the Heat went to a zone and challenged the Mavericks to hit jump shots, they couldn’t.
The American Airlines Center was electric and as loud as I’ve heard it during the first quarter as the Mavericks came out strong and took an early lead. But that energy evaporated as the Mavericks started missing jump shots at an incredible rate and the Heat started getting more and more calls go their way as they became the aggressor.
When David Stern was shown on the Jumobtron during the first half, the arena showered with boos at a volume that’s usually reserved for the most antagonizing of opponents.
Hey, David Stern: does Paul Tagliabue get booed at football games he’s at? Maybe 20,000 furious at you and your league have a point. Are you telling me in all honesty that the guys running your officiating are the most capable in the world? That Stu Jackson is doling out fair penalties? That these referees that regularly blow call after call after call and regularly have lopsided results are the best in the world?
You claim your product is the best basketball product in the world. Maybe you’re right, but it sure isn’t officiated that way.
But despite the shooting woes, the bad calls, and a stagnant offense, the Mavericks were still in this game. Even when the Mavericks desperately fouled Dwayne Wade with seconds left on the clock, there was hope.
The American Airlines Center had fallen quiet as Wade stepped to the free throw line for the 21st time (meanwhile, the Mavericks as a team shot 23) with the Heat leading 95-92.
I was in the tunnel, not able to watch — but decided it wasn’t time to give up. I fought my way back to the endzone (where the Hoop Troop sets up camp, to lead free throw distraction), pushing ABC crew members out of my way (they were in the tunnel with the trophy and the set for the trophy presentation).
I got to the endzone, saw the quiet crowd, faced them and yelled as loud as I could, “WE’RE NOT GIVING UP YET! HE MISSES THESE, THE MAVS CAN STILL TIE IT! LET’S MAKE THE MAVS PROUD!”
I hear a couple of people go “YEAH!” and the endzone comes to life with noise, and the arena follows — even Dirk raised his arms in a “louder, louder!” motion.
And Dwayne Wade missed both the free throws.
There was hope… maybe fate was about to smile on the Mavericks…
Jason Terry escaped Gary Payton’s grabbing (he had done it all game, so why not on the final shot of the game?), jumped to his side, shot the three… it was on line…
And it just didn’t fall.
And so ended the Mavericks’ magical season.
I’m sad and disappointed, but the Mavericks came a long way this year. They finally made it to the NBA Finals. And I feel like I made strides, personally — I’ve battled crippling panic attacks and anxiety my entire life, and if you’d have told me when I was 17 that in 10 years, I’d be performing not just at every Mavericks home game but at the NBA Finals, I’d have said your crystal ball was clearly broken.
It was a wonderful basketball season for the Mavericks and for me personally, and I’m so grateful to have gotten to be a part of such a great team. And, even more importantly, to have gotten to be a part of such a great community like the Dallas Mavericks fans.
I’m exhausted from the stress and the fun and excitement of the playoffs. But that having been said…
I can’t wait until next year.
Tue June 20th, 2006 11:49 pm
Filed under Dallas Mavericks