Guest Post By Ian Dougherty
Writing something nice about the Dallas Mavericks is new territory for me. I write for a Spurs blog. I grew up in San Antonio during the mid-2000’s when the Spurs and Mavs were at each other’s necks. I remember Steve Kerr annihilating the Mavs’ title hopes with a barrage of threes in the 2003 Western Conference Finals.
I remember Jason Terry punching Michael Finley in the dick in the late seconds of Game 5 in the 2006 Western Conference Semi-Finals. I damn sure remember Manu Ginobili’s foul on Dirk in Game 7 of the 2006 series, which dashed the hopes of a repeat title for the Spurs. I became a Dwyane Wade fan simply because he destroyed the Mavericks in the 2006 Finals. Growing up where I did, being decent to people from Dallas was a thought that never occurred to me.
I hated those Mavericks. I hated Dirk Nowitzki for being a soft player that couldn’t win. I hated Jason Terry and his stupid takeoff 3-point celebration. I hated Mark Cuban for his constant needling of the Spurs and the city of San Antonio. I screamed “RINGZ!!!” whenever I encountered a Dallas fan.
As I’ve grown up, though, that hatred has subsided and been replaced by a feeling of appreciation. That turn started around the 2011 Playoffs. As the Spurs were upset in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies, I had no rooting interest for a majority of the postseason. Because of that, I was able to watch most of the games without bias, and appreciate the teams that played well.
Of course, 2011 was the year the Mavericks went on their title run, and really, they were magnificent to watch. Dirk Nowitzki was unstoppable that postseason. Jason Terry was engulfed in flames. Tyson Chandler quarterbacked that defense and protected the rim magnificently. J.J. Barea was a spark plug, and was key in torching the Los Angeles Lakers, the only team I disliked more than Dallas as a kid.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching San Antonio my whole life, it’s that well-coached, well-
executed basketball should be championed no matter what personal biases may exist. And the 2011 Mavericks were just that. Rick Carlisle had them ready to play, and a blueprint to win. His players played or one other, and dominated that postseason. As they zoned up the Miami Heat, and made LeBron James seem mortal on the biggest stage imaginable, I couldn’t help but marvel about what the Mavs had done.
Now, I’m able to look back fondly at the old Spurs-Mavs series’. Those Duncan vs. Dirk battles were some of the best that I’ll ever see. It was a significant part of my childhood that, if I ever have children, I’ll tell them about constantly. I have something I can rehash if I ever run into someone from Dallas, or who is a Mavericks fan. That rivalry helped grow my love for the game of basketball, so much so that I now want to make working in the sport my career.
I’m still not a fan of the Mavericks, but, I respect them now. Dirk Nowitzki is an all-time great player. Rick Carlisle is a genius coach. They just signed Chandler Parsons, who represents everything wonderful in this world. Mark Cuban still sucks, though. I guess some things may never change.
Editor’s Note: Ian Dougherty is a contributor to SBNation’s San Antonio Spurs blog, Pounding the Rock. You can find him on Twitter @IanDougherty, where he’s probably making references to Omarion’s “Ice Box.”