The Dallas Mavericks made reality what so few thought could be possible. They won the 2010-11 NBA Championship by besting the seemingly indestructible Miami Heat.
"Not one. Not two. Not Three. Not Four. Not Five. Not Six. Not seven..."
That was what LeBron James had to say in reference to the number of championships he and his then-new teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would bring the Miami Heat prior to the 2010-11 NBA season.
Shortly after LeBron James announced his intention to "take [his] talents to South Beach" via a one-hour special entitled "The Decision", sports fans outside of Miami began to revolt -- or maybe regurgitate. James, along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, had done the unthinkable. They had aligned their all-star abilities and had formed one of the biggest spectacles the sports world has ever seen.
The unity of James, Wade and Bosh confirmed the fears that sports fans have been faced with since the inception of free agency. Seemingly gone were the days of the game's best players challenging one another for our entertainment. For decades, it was "Bird vs. Magic", "Wilt vs. Russell" and "Jordan vs. Malone (or Barkley, Wilkins, Ewing... pick one). The Miami Heat sought out to un-level the playing field and do what no other sports franchise had ever truly done -- form a "superteam" of sorts.
Granted, the concept of unifying talent is nothing new. The Boston Celtics managed to align Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen along with Paul Pierce and went on to win the 2009 NBA Championship. But what the Miami Heat did prior to the 2010-11 season was on a much greater level. True, Garnett, Allen and Pierece are great NBA players, but the threesome of Wade, James and Bosh are perhaps three of the greatest players in today's NBA.
The formation of this year's Miami Heat were akin to Darth Vader joining forces with Luke Skywalker, Lex Luthor and Superman teaming up to rule the world, or even He-Man and Skeletor (who Bosh closely resembles, no?) joining forces and hanging out together at Castle Greyskull.
Simply stated, it was panic time for sports purists. Athletes were seemingly no longer focused on taking their best shot at the best competitor, but rather joining their bests for easy fame and fortune.
Now, in the midst of one of the greatest and most popular upsets in sports history, all I can think about is just how grateful I am for the Miami Heat.
If anything, this past season of NBA basketball should have taught us that the foundation of professional sports is stronger than ever. Concepts like teamwork, hustle, fundamental soundness and true belief will always reign supreme. No matter how great the odds may be stacked in one's favor, nothing is impossible.
And only because of the Miami Heat do we know these truths.
Where there's a will, there's a way. Or in this case, where there's a LeBron, Wade and Bosh, there's a Dirk, Kidd and J.J.
It took nearly nine months to find out whether our greatest fears would be confirmed. We watched as the Miami Heat ran over teams that would ordinarily be true championship caliber teams -- Orlando, Boston, Chicago. The Heat outlasted them all, and beat them when they faced them on the biggest stage. When the Heat reached their final test, the world was prepared to watch the luckiest city in the sports world, Miami, celebrate the success of one of the greatest master plans in sports history.
But in the end, the Dallas Mavericks, one of the most unlikely of all comers, defeated the NBA's new "Evil Empire."
Once the final seconds had ticked off the clock, the celebration began. And like the U.S. Marines raising the United States flag on Mr. Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima, the Dallas Mavericks gathered on a stage centered in the middle of the floor at Miami's American Airlines Arena, on top of the Miami Heat's once intimidating logo. It was a great moment for sports, and a great moment for sports fans. Good had triumphed evil.
Following the game, LeBron James had this to say about those rooting for the fall of the Miami Heat:
"All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today.
I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.
They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point."
Spoken like a true villain. With those words, James has indeed left this saga open to numerous sequels, and further solidified himself as the NBA's greatest antagonist.
Like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the rest of the Mavericks did over the course of the NBA's last six games, will heroes arise next season and do the same?
After hearing what James thinks about us, let's hope so.
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