On the Rebound

Mavs dragging old heartache into new season

"I wasn't depressed, just mad," says Cuban, who didn't leave his house for two weeks. "I tried not to think about it. But it wasn't easy."

The emotional wounds may no longer be bleeding, but neither are they sufficiently scabbed. Time heals, but these Mavs need more than one off-season to psychologically recuperate.

"This hurt has been in our guts for three months," says general manager Donnie Nelson. "Best cure is to get back on the court."

The Mavericks take a step toward resurrection Thursday night by hosting their first preseason game at AAC since you-know-what. After that come the season opener November 2 against the Spurs, then the raising of the Western Conference Champions banner November 6 and, eight long months later, who knows, maybe another title shot?

It won't be easy. For the first time in the franchise's 27-year history, the Mavericks are hunted rather than hunter.

"Now," says Cuban, "we're the red meat."

Long before we know if the Mavericks are capable of again reaching the Finals, we'll learn the details of their next possible parade. In keeping with Resolution 93-4570, Barshop will next month appear before the city council and present initial plans for 2007 city celebrations concerning the Cowboys, Stars and, yes, Mavericks.

"Every year I go in there and a couple of city council members joke that I'm jinxing everything," Barshop says. "But I promise, it's not me."

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