"We're one win away from my dream, what I've worked on for half of my life." -Dirk Nowitzki
One. More. Win.
I want to give Mavs fans my most genuine piece of advice in what could be my last post before they cut down the nets (the NBA does that right?) and bring home the franchise's first NBA Championship.
It's not the destination, it's the journey.
I really began to embrace this philosophy once concluding some of the most triumphant accomplishments of my life (not enough room to list them all out here). The most beautiful part about reaching the mountain top is looking back down to see just what got you there. All the bumps in the road become euphorically clear. "That's why this happened, this is why that happened." It all makes sense.
But there's also a small feeling of let down that sets in. A sort of "what now?" thought races through your mind. I didn't like it, and I wish that it hadn't, but it did. You've reached the top, accomplishing exactly what you've set out to accomplish, and yet, you're still the same person. I've actually hit rock bottom a few times after some of my greatest achievements. This is what turned me on to this belief as a young lad, and it has quickly evolved into a life philosophy that I abide by.
And yes, I do believe this sort of philosophy applies to being a fan of a sports team. I LONG for the day when I see the Chiefs win a Super Bowl. As great as this Mavericks run has been, it'll be dwarfed 100 times over by that day. But I know to enjoy the journey, embrace the hardships, and find the beauty in the pain of coming up short. Sunday could be a special, special day for the diehard Maverick fans out there. They've been through a lot with this team, and their dedication just might pay off after Game 6. Or it might not. You never know, and that's why sports are so beautifully representative of life itself.
So lets take a quick look, a short synopsis if you will, at the journey of Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks.
Pre-2011 - I don't have to tell you what has been said about this Dallas Mavericks team, or Dirk Nowitzki, in the past, but I will. They're soft. They can't get it done when it matters. They're soft. They're choke artists. Oh, and they're soft. They lost to this Miami Heat team in the NBA Finals, and frankly, it wasn't very fair. The Mavs were by no means innocent in what transpired, but if the NBA hadn't intervened then the Mavs would already have one title to their credit. Well, those who remained patient are one game away from being rewarded via karma. And as great as that title would have been, it wouldn't have come close to matching what this title will mean to Dirk, the Mavs, or you, the fans.
Portland series - All of the experts needed an upset to pick in the 1st round. None of them had the gall to pick Memphis over San Antonio (except for this one guy). A quick look at the teams with home court advantage revealed one team that came up short time and time again. So yeah, go ahead and pick against them. Then there was the Game 4 collapse, which prompted me to text my brother, "The Mavs are done." But what was I supposed to think? I have closely observed this team since the early 2000's, and I knew how fragile their psyche was. But isn't that what this team is all about - proving me and everybody else wrong?
Lakers series - The Mavs played about as well as a team could play in an NBA playoff series, crescendoing with their Game 4 close out win, the best team performance I've ever seen in the NBA Playoffs. They led by 24 at half. They hit 20 3-pointers as a team, including a combined 15-16 from Jason Terry and Stojanky Nutz. This was the series that forced the country to take this team seriously. They not only beat the defending NBA Champions, they bludgeoned them, and resorted them to taking multiple cheap shots out of utter embarrassment. This series was as good as it gets for a Dirk fan/Laker hater.
Must Read - Lakers Suck, Dirk Rules
Thunder series - Dirk's grand opus. Put together what may have been the most efficient game in NBA Playoffs history in Game 1, and it wasn't even his best game of the series. This is the series that officially cemented the Mavs as The Comeback Cripples (once was a fluke, twice was a coincidence, thrice is a trend) with 2 monstrous 4th quarter comebacks. This series also certified the newfound mental toughness of these Mavs, a team made up of a collections of misfits unified by their one and only goal, evidenced by Dirk Nowitzki wanting no part of the celebration that followed this series, the coolest thing I have ever seen in sports.
Must Read - The Key to the Dallas Mavericks' Success
NBA Finals - In what could be the greatest NBA Finals the game has ever seen (so good I think they should extend the series to 9 games), the Mavs' toughness and resolve have reached a whole new level. Despite injuries to Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion, Dirk's finger, and Dirk's esophagus, the Mavs have slowly swung the power of the series in their favor. But it ain't over yet, not yet by a long shot. Mavs fans should want this more than anything. Getting revenge for 2006. Proving all the skeptics wrong. Dirk getting rewarded for what he so rightly deserves. This is your moment.
But don't forget the journey that came along with it.
One more win.