We head into 2007 knowing this much: Bobby Knight still doesn't have the record, SMU still doesn't have legitimacy, the Texas Rangers still don't have a free-agent star and, most inexplicably, the Mavericks still don't have respect. Even after last year's glorious run to an almost-championship. Even after last night's pulsating victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Despite their league-best 22-7 record, the Mavs at this point do not have -- according to fans -- any All-Stars. In the second installment of voting results released yesterday, Dirk Nowitzki is third and Josh Howard eighth among Western Conference forwards, Jason Terry is sixth among guards, and Erick Dampier is a distant third among centers. Of course, two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash is fourth among guards, so what do voters know?
This is actually good news for your Mavericks. Something to use as motivation, even a rallying cry, as they steam toward another appearance in the NBA Finals.
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Like they did last night, Terry will keep scoring 35 points, Howard will keep making acrobatic layups, and Nowitzki will keep calmly sinking game-winning 20-foot jumpers with 1.3 seconds remaining. And when the Mavericks finally become champions, maybe then they'll also become popular. --Richie Whitt