Cohen: Motivation From Mavs

By Josh Cohen
May 31, 2011

ORLANDO -- If you are a fan of the Orlando Magic or any other professional sports team that can justifiably be labeled a championship-contending franchise and recently slipped on an icy patch, allow the Dallas Mavericks to motivate and inspire you.

Over the last 10 years, it would be challenging to find another sports team at any level throughout the world that has endured a more taxing rollercoaster ride.

From moments of jubilation to times of inconceivable disappointment, the Mavericks have dealt with an implausible amount of twists and turns.

For the first five years of the 21st century, the Mavs were branded as the team on the rise and a club with unlimited potential.

Dirk Nowitzki, who began to emerge as one of the more potent scorers in the league because of his inimitable talents, led Dallas to 50-plus win seasons every year and critics believed that once it discovered how to eclipse its arch-rivals, San Antonio, it would coast to greener pastures.

It just seemed like only a matter of time, especially after their unforgettable and breathtaking victory over the Spurs in the 2006 Western Conference Semifinals, before the Mavericks hoisted up the Larry O’Brien Trophy and celebrated the franchise’s first-ever NBA championship.

Ahead 2-0 in The Finals and championship paraphernalia already in the final stages of conception, a believed-to-be joy ride to Miami that was likely filled with premature commemoration and talks of triumphant preparation, transformed into a nightmare that nobody could have forecasted.

Coasting in Game 3 and minutes away from all but sealing their opponent’s fate, the Heat somehow, someway overcame a monumental 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stagger the Mavericks and eventually silence north Texas after six games.

After this stunning turn of events, all of that rich optimism and media-friendly support began to disintegrate. After compiling a league-best 67 victories in 06-07, Dallas was eliminated in the First Round by eight-seeded Golden State.

Josh Cohen
Nobody saw it coming but suddenly the team that seemed centimeters away from claiming the ultimate prize were about to transform into playoff-dazed and bushed wannabes.

For the next few years, Dallas allowed its critics to say, “Told you so.” Early playoff exits and dubious front office decisions seemed to haunt the Mavs.

They lost handedly in the First Round in 2008 to the Hornets, were scratched and bruised in the conference semis to the Nuggets in 2009 and, like old times, were eradicated by the Spurs in the opening round in 2010.

Just when you thought they had all but disappeared, the once-believed-to-be choke-artists have responded with a remarkable run to the 2011 NBA Finals.

Many observers figured they were toast against Portland in the First Round, especially after allowing the Blazers to overcome a 23-point hole in Game 4. Practically everyone assumed there was no feasible way Dallas could beat the L.A. Lakers (let alone sweep the two-time defending champs) and some still projected failure from the Mavs against Oklahoma City.

While certainly their quest to be champs is not complete as they remain somewhat heavy underdogs against the Heat in the NBA Finals, the Mavericks have allowed other teams to regain spirit and belief.

They have taught us that even when things seem dark and bleak, there is always a way to battle the storm and return to the biggest stage.

It’s important for Magic fans and supporters of other sports teams that have at some point dealt with disappointment to identify the Mavericks as a source of encouragement.

If they can do it, we can do it. It’s as simple as that.

Who do you think will win the 2011 NBA Finals?
Who do you think will win the 2011 NBA Finals?
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