The Dallas Mavericks returned home in triumph on Monday, cheered by hundreds of fans celebrating the franchise’s first NBA title and the first professional championship of any kind in the area in more than a decade.
Owner Mark Cuban walked off the plane at Love Field carrying the championship trophy he was handed after Sunday’s Game 6 victory over the Miami Heat.
Next came forward Dirk Nowitzki with hardware of his own: the NBA finals MVP trophy that was awarded after he overcame a finger injury, illness and smothering defense from the Heat to power fourth-quarter comeback wins.
Cuban, the Dallas billionaire who bought the team in 2000, had the championship trophy in a seat next to him on the plane, and he apparently kept it close throughout the Sunday night celebration.
“This will sound weird,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’m laying in bed. With the trophy next (to) me.”
Cuban will keep the party going at least through Thursday morning, the date set for the team’s victory parade through the streets of downtown Dallas.
Team spokeswoman Sarah Melton confirmed the date Monday, but said the precise route and other details would be announced today. Cuban has said that he will pick up the tab for parade costs.
The championship, the first in the 31-year history of the Mavericks, represents a breakthrough. The franchise was once one of the worst in the NBA and, even after Cuban’s infusion of cash and energy, had a reputation of failing to win big games — including a loss to Miami in the 2006 finals after leading the series, 2-0.
The title is city’s first since the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999 and it comes four months after the Super Bowl in suburban Arlington included not the hometown Cowboys but Green Bay and Pittsburgh along with a spate of bad weather. The Texas Rangers advanced to the last World Series, but lost to San Francisco.