So much for winning. And so much for losing with class and dignity.
Yes, unequivocally, the Mavericks got screwed in Saturday's Game 3 loss to the Denver Nuggets. (We didn't need - or really want - an admission by the NBA to confirm that.) But despite the team's latest case of Whine Flu, isn't it obvious the Mavs were an accessory to the rape by ditching their clothes and assuming the position?
We didn't know it would be referee Mark Wunderlich swallowing his whistle, but - admit it - you sensed something ominous down the stretch.
After hammering the Nuggets with Jason Kidd in the post all game, the Mavericks didn't employ the strategy the final 3:20. In the final two minutes both Josh Howard and Jason Terry missed a free throw. And with a 4-point lead and :31 to go, the Mavs failed.
Failed to offer any resistance to Denver's Carmelo Anthony, whose ridiculously easy drive-and-dunk cut the lead to two. Failed to deliver the dagger when Dirk Nowitzki (otherwise brilliant with 33 points and 16 rebounds) front-rimmed a 10-footer in the lane with :08 left. And, most importantly, failed to foul.
Again, Wunderlich should've known what was coming and should've seen it when it happened. But history will show that Wright did not commit a foul.
When Anthony lost control of the ball 35 feet from the basket, seems to me like that would've been the perfect time to pounce. Dive for the loose ball. You may get a foul, which is okay. Or, even better, you may get a jump ball - or even the ball.
When Anthony regained control, Wright whacked him across the forearms. Good, but not good enough. Problem is, he also hit the ball, momentarily dislodging it from Anthony's hands. Wunderlich apparently saw hand on ball, not arm on arm.
But the worst thing Wright did? As Anthony rose up for his shot, he backed off and raised his hands as if to say "I didn't do anything." Why?
ESPN's Dan Shulman said "there's the foul" as Wright hacked Carmelo, but ESPN Radio's Chuck Cooperstein made no mention of it during the play.
Turns out Wright's foul was too close to call.
Kudos to most of the Mavericks for how they handled the infuriating, devastating loss. Dirk - I can't imagine having a worse week - silently walked off the floor. And this from Kidd:
"The game didn't come down to that last play."
As for Howard and owner Mark Cuban: Embarrassingly pathetic.
After the game Josh got in Wunderlich's face, screaming at him in an all-time hissy fit. Later Howard, who had to be restrained by assistant Darrell Armstong, damaged the camera of a Dallas Morning News photographer.
And then there's Cuban - a 50-year-old father of two and one of the Internet's biggest brains - unable to control his emotions or, worse, fess up to the truth. Storming off the court, Cuban clearly contacted and demonstratively moved the arm of Channel 11 cameraman Bill Ellis. He could've taken a half-step to the right and avoided the incident altgother. Or, afterward, he could've apologized for a "heat of the moment" mistake we would've all understood. (Sorta like calling a mom's son a "punk".)
But, no, in Sunday's DMN he said "I did not push him in the least bit" and last night Channel 8's Joe Trahan aired an email in which Cuban tried to play the semantic game with "shove".
I love Cuban's passion. Just wish he'd harness it with discretion.
For all his warts, can you imagine an angry Jerry Jones laying a hand on a cameraman after a gut-wrenching playoff loss? And, afterward, can you envision the national outcry?
The Mavs make their last stand tonight. Unfortunately, they've already made their statement.