Maybe the Mavs are no longer true contenders, but for the first time in a long while, they’re themselves. With Avery and with the meltdowns went the Mavs’ identity as mini-Spurs, and the Mavericks were finally forced to decide who they really are. Bethlehem Shoals explains:
…But with the series headed back to Dallas, tied 1-1, the Mavs should be feeling pretty darn good about themselves right about now. Not because they stole one from San Antonio on the road, thus giving them some mathematically encouraging chance of advancing. No, the Mavericks should be relieved that they’re back where they belong in the order of the universe: feisty, possibly crazy, underdogs staring down their own imminent death. With that one win, the Mavs went from failed empire to lovable insurgents. Just like things used to be.
That trip to the Finals, the upset at the hands of Nellie and his banshee Warriors, last season’s unceremonious loss to a Hornets team they were expected to unmask … all this was a bad dream, an attempt to be something this franchise never could be. Think about the wild ride that preceded it: A tech zillionaire purchases one of the most benighted franchises in all of pro sports. He enlists the services of the most certifiably weird head coach the league has ever seen. And then, together with a giant jump-shooting German, an alt-rock Canadian point guard, a stoic swingman left over from the Perot years, and anyone else the owner felt like throwing money at, they set out to conquer the league. They had some epic shoot-outs with the Kings, another arriviste squad with some weird ideas about style. Cuban continued to be, depending on how you saw it, the most entertaining or the most meddlesome owner this side of Jerry Jones. It was like Three J’s never happened.
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