4

D.J. Mbenga 1, Dirk Nowitzki 0

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Watching the Lakers party in Orlando last night - I was wrong about L.A. in 4, but just barely -was a reminder how cruel sports can be.

While former Mavericks D.J. Mbenga and Josh Powell hugged and kissed the NBA's Larry O'Brien championship trophy, current Maverick Dirk Nowitzki is left with remorse about hugging and kissing Cristal Taylor.

Though they played in the NBA Finals only three summers ago, in a way the Mavs have never felt farther from a title.

They were overmatched by a Nuggets team which was dismantled by a Lakers team which waltzed to its 15th title. While L.A. plans a parade, the Mavs are ...

*Determined, it seems, to re-sign Jason Kidd for one last gasp next season.

*Pondering a move up from 22 in next week's NBA Draft.

*Inviting last year's top pick, Shan Foster, to its summer league team after he averaged 10 points in Italy.

*And - hopefully - pursuing a free-agent named Shaquille O'Neal. (Isn't Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier just as tempting as Cleveland's offer of Sasha Pavlovic and Ben Wallace?)

While the Lakers this morning still have that sweet sting of champagne in their eyes, a couple of sobering thoughts for MFFLs:

Dirk Nowitzki (he turns 31 Friday) is older than Kobe Bryant.

Phil Jackson has won 10 NBA Championships. The Mavericks have won 13 playoff series.

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