I know, the Mavericks played like April fools in Phoenix Sunday afternoon. But the day wasn't a total loss. In fact, it was a major win. How's that? After Dallas' ugly loss, the San Antonio Spurs went and lost to the crappy Indiana Pacers, a result that clinched the Southwest Division title for your Mavs. No biggie? Look up in the American Airlines Center's rafters next game and tell me how many division championship banners you see. That's right: one.
In 28 seasons of hoops Dallas has won one outright division title (they tied for first in 2003), and it was so long ago -- 1987 -- that this guy was the coach, this guy was the star, this was the logo, and this was the name of the division.
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True, it's disconcerting that coach Avery Johnson says his team "never left the hotel" for a statement game against the Suns. It's disappointing that their vaunted defense played like the University of Phoenix-Online, surrendering countless dribble penetration resulting in lay-ups or kick-outs for wide open three-pointers. And it might be fatal that in two nationally televised scrums this spring, Dirk Nowitzki has been outplayed by Most Valuable Player co-favorite Steve Nash. In a special season geared toward a championship, winning a division isn't reason to pop the corks or prep a parade. But while the loss to the Suns will be forgotten in a month, the banner will allow us to remember some of this season forever. --Richie Whitt