For the past five seasons, Mark Cuban had to listen to taunts during the Dallas Mavericks’ annual visits to Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena.
Those were among the rare occasions that the Dallas Mavericks’ outspoken owner was speechless, sickened by the thought of watching the 2006 NBA title slip away against the Miami Heat, who rallied from an 0-2 series hole and a 13-point deficit in Game 3 to finish off those Finals in six games.
Cuban could have the ultimate response Thursday night, when the Mavs play in Miami for the first time since clinching the franchise’s first title on the AmericanAirlines Arena court in June. Cuban could flash his brand-new championship ring, but he planned to leave his bling in its usual display spot in his bedroom.
“I don’t want to be that guy who does the nah-nah-nah-nah-nah thing,” Cuban said. “It’s not that I have any class whatsoever. I just don’t want to be that guy.”
Cuban has engaged several opponents in public trash talk, including Miami’s Dwyane Wade, whose leadership skills were mocked in a 2007 blog post by Cuban. However, Cuban said it wouldn’t be right for him to “return volley” with trash talk to Miami fans after being annoyed by it the past five years, which is why he resisted the temptation to bring his ring on the trip.
“I did think about wearing it down there,” Cuban said. “Then I’d become one of ‘those people.’ I just always hate it when anybody would come around and show off their ring. I was always like, ‘That’s not right,’ so I don’t want to be that guy.”
Jason Terry, who joins Dirk Nowitzki as the only players on the Mavericks' roster for both Finals appearances, recalls that even the Heat ball boys would wear their rings when the Mavs have come to Miami over the past five years.
Terry, the Game 6 hero this past summer, will wear his ring to the arena Thursday night. But that is not unusual for the Mavs’ flashy sixth man, who says the 2006 Finals collapse still sticks with him despite finishing the job against the Heat in June.
“To me, yeah, we have one, but we should have two,” said Terry, who famously got a tattoo of the Larry O’Brien Trophy on his right biceps before last season, predicting the Mavs’ title. “That’s how I look at it.
“And just the way that we lost, you know what I mean? Just the way that happened. It still leaves a bitter taste, and I don’t think it will ever go away.”
Added Nowitzki, the reigning Finals MVP: “Obviously when you go in that building, you’re going to see the banner they have up there from ’06. We were so close, but like I said, you can’t always live in the past. As an athlete, you’ve got to move on, but it was always tough to go back there.”
Nowitzki has worn his ring only once or twice and had no plans to bring it on this road trip. He isn’t in a sentimental mood as the Mavs fight for playoff position in the Western Conference.
In Nowitzki’s mind, the Mavs have spent more than enough time celebrating. Their focus now needs to be on preparing for another playoff run.
“Yeah, it was [special], but I don’t want to dwell too much on the past,” Nowitzki said. “I mean, it felt like we were celebrating all season. With the lockout-shortened season, we didn’t get our rings on time. Then we celebrate the banner, we celebrate the rings and every other day a player came in here getting a ring. So we’ve been celebrating a lot this year.
“We want to kind of put it behind us and just move forward and hopefully have a good playoff run here. Yeah, it’ll be nice to go back to the scene of the crime, but we’ve got to move on. We’ve got a ballgame to play.”