A Tale of Two Cities

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Extraordinary. It wasn’t quite a rout, but it sometimes felt like it. It was tough game for the Mavericks. They couldn’t allow themselves to slow down, not against shimmering forces like Wade and Lebron, and they were everywhere they needed to be. Game Six brought to a close the frustrating, electrifying story of Dallas and Miami.

The Mavericks will go on to be hailed as champions, and their flaws on the court will be glossed over by the glow of victory. Nowitzki’s uncharacteristically poor playing in the first two quarters will be folded into the narrative with headlines like “Supporting Cast Helps Dallas’s Dirk Nowitzki“. And all will be well.

But what about the Heat? Fingers are already starting to get pointed, some of them skipping past the easy target of LeBron James and going straight to management. In fact, you could easily turn the Mavs’ victory into what we’d talked about earlier: the plucky underdogs striving against the mighty, money-bloated evil empire.

In fact, Jorge Vargas, of AllMedia NY, wrote, “The real villains are the Miami Heat management and ownership, those individuals who thought to make of the NBA a PlayStation video game, those individuals who sought to throw teamwork out the window and replace it with star power. Those are the individuals that deserved mocking this morning… It’s the guys who tried to make the league into a boring, money-driven version of itself who today deserve scorn and who deserve to be laughed at, because Dirk Nowitzki and his band of “average” players just blew a mile-wide hole into the Heat ship and they did so without fanfare… without throwing cash at every star for a thousand miles.”

And why not? That’s an exciting interpretation of the game. It’s a story we can all agree with: the Heat lost because they lacked heart. The Mavs and their “average” players won the game, and they won it “with basketball“, goddammit.

But, for me, that wasn’t the game I saw last night. The Mavs won the game with sweat and blood and toil. They were everywhere, and they had to be, because the Heat had the talent, and Nowitzki was starting to flag in the first two quarters. Barea, Terry, Cardinal, and the rest of the Mavericks were where they needed to be. Above all, they were worthy opponents for the Heat, who, if they didn’t give it their all, certainly didn’t play a bad game.

Dallas must be proud, and they are. The Mavericks blowing past everyone to come face to face with the Heat was shocking. In twenty years, they’ve only made it to the championships twice, and they’d lost before, against the Heat.

Meanwhile, the Heat were and are juggernauts, a team so high-profile that both Chris Bosh and LeBron James left their original teams to join it. The battle between them and the Mavs is a historical occasion.

Interestingly, Miami fans didn’t seem too worked up. Besides bizarre rumours that some Miami fans were purchasing Maverick voodoo dolls, Miami does not have the reputation of being much of a basketball town. In the American Airlines Arena, there are often open seats. When BALLnROLL arrived in Miami, we drove from the airport to our hotel (Daddy O Miami, which happens to be a great place to stay) where we noticed, there wasn’t much electricity in the air. We saw no billboards, no crazy fans, no flags on cars. However we did see a bunch of Dallas fans.

In 2008, CBS called Miami their number one worst sports town. In 2011, Charles Barkley complained that the Heat “have the worst fans… its not even loud in [American Airlines Arena]”. This prompted Matt Albersworth of the sports blog The Faster Times to deliver a viciously sarcastic critique of Miami fandom: “Miami fans aren’t quiet because they’re cold, they’re just confused. Do we cheer while our guy take free throws, or after? Is drawing a foul good? Who’s the tall lanky guy with #1 on his jersey? Is that LeBron?”

But the atmosphere was electric in game six; you could feel a kind of frenzy in the stands. Miami is a huge tourist town, and most of those spectators were from somewhere else. They were likely from Dallas, in fact. This was huge for them: the first time in the history of the franchise that their team has taken home the championship.

In Dallas itself, fans were swarming the American Airlines Center for the watch party, some holding enormous DIRK signs and beach balls. It must have been some town to be in the night of game six.

Miami should be so lucky to have that kind of support.

After the game, the Mavs partied at the LIV Nightclub in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel, with celebrities like Lil Wayne and Trey Songz showing up to lend their support.

Meanwhile, the Heat will pull through this loss; obviously they still have some of the best players in the NBA with them. These finals were LeBron James’s redemption games, and this loss might toss him back into the villain role for another season.

Otherwise they should be getting ready to bounce back.

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