DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks’ fans have played out this moment in their dreams for 31 seasons.
As the fans in Miami stood in disbelief during the final seconds of Game 6 because their superpower trio lost in the NBA Finals, the emphatic cheers from the sold-out crowd at American Airlines Center grew louder and louder.
Their dreams were coming a reality. Their guys in blue clutched the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time in franchise history after defeating the Heat, 105-95.
Fans could’ve easily watched the game in the comfort of their own living rooms without having to strain their necks looking at the scoreboard or pay for tickets, parking and concessions. But you couldn’t duplicate the vibe of 18,000 people yelling “defense” at the top of their lungs as if their were players on the court.
Though it won’t be listed with the current 457-game sellout streak at the AAC -- the longest one currently going in the NBA -- the atmosphere of this one could've topped them all.
“The city doesn’t get no better than this,” 28-year-old Jesse Felan said. “You can hear it. You can hear it. The game ain’t even here but you would think it was. That’s how much we love our city. We love Big D baby.”
Those who couldn’t get a seat stood in the humid AT&T Plaza at Victory Plaza with banners and clappers in hand. Once the clock ticked down to zero, fans rushed the newspaper stands.
“I’ve got to suffer or do whatever I’ve got to do. I’m a fan,” said Rene Coloctlo, who stood outside to watch the game in his body-painted Dirk Nowitzki jersey. “I’ve got to go through whatever I’ve got to go through.”
It wasn’t the easiest of roads to get here. Since Owner Mark Cuban bought the team on January 2000, fans had witnessed 11 straight 50-win seasons, but the Mavs did not have a ring to show for it. The AAC opened in 2001 and five years later, fans finally got what they were hoping for -- a shot at a title which fizzled.
“You know they had the talent every year,” 21-year-old Sam Schwartzstein said. “Every year you had Nash -- and the original Big Three -- and you’re thinking that we’ve got this year. Well no, we don’t.”
Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat pulled a historical comeback to win the 2006 NBA Finals, giving fans nightmares to this day of Antoine Walker’s shoulder shimmy in the fourth quarter of Game 6. In the same building five years later, the fans at the arena finally have something to brag about as the ensemble walked through the concourse hollering their rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions”.
Before they hit for the exits, most jolted to the fan shops to buy merchandise that incorporated the Dallas Mavericks logo and world champions.
“I never thought I’d have the opportunity to buy one,” said Ed Williamson as he stood in line holding a championship T-shirt and hat. “It feels good.”