Worth the Mavericks' wait

This is a story you won't hear about too much in the days, weeks and months ahead.

On the night of June 12, the Dallas Mavericks lay claim to the NBA championship for the first time. After three decades of real ups and downs, the Mavs finally ascended to the summit simply by having the better team on the court than the Miami Heat.

But why waste time talking about something positive? Better, I suppose, to kick LeBron while he's down, over and over, for sins real and imagined. Keep doing it, though, and you end up missing the larger point, the one about how patience, loyalty and humility offer its own rewards.

Start with the Mavericks' fans, who have seen plenty. From their birth at the start of the 1980s, Dallas steadily climbed the NBA ladder. The likes of Rolando Blackman and Mark Agguire helped the Mavs become playoff regulars, even though Pat Riley and his Showtime Lakers always got in the way out West.

Instead of getting to the top of the ladder, though, the Mavs, in the 90s, fell hard to the pavement, to the tune of 10 straight years missing the playoffs and consecutive seasons where it lost 67 and 69 times, respectively. Bad ownership, bad coaches, bad players - and Reunion Arena went empty.

Enter Mark Cuban, the young, brash, talkative and energetic billionaire who cashed in before the dot-com bust and, in January 2000, bought the Mavericks. Within six years, Cuban upgraded everything for the organization and its players and, led by a supernatural German named Dirk Nowitzki, made the championship series and went up 2-0 on the Miami Heat.

And that's where the trouble began again. The Mavs blew that series, lost in six, and Cuban, never one to take anything quietly, fumed against the world, David Stern included, and the fines piled up. Meanwhile, Nowitzki, Jason Terry and friends received the 'soft' label, and worse, as in ensuing years Dallas had great regular seasons and first-round playoff flameouts.

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