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Thanks for Everything. And for Nothing.

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When I was a kid and the Cowboys or Mavericks or even Rangers would lose so much as a home game, I didn't want to know about it the next day. Wouldn't read the papers or watch TV; didn't want to catch even a glimpse of my team's failure, just wanted to pretend it never happened and keep on moving till tomorrow's tip-off or next week's kickoff turned that L into a W and made everything right. Of course, today there is no tomorrow, and Game 7's just another Thursday night now, and there's still a virtual stack of goodbyes and what-the-hell-happeneds to tear through, and I am not in the mood for it. This is the day few saw coming, especially those who began planning parades after Game 1: the morning after the Dallas Mavericks pissed away a 2-0 lead (2�-0, if you want to get technical and nasty about it) and gave the Miami Heat the NBA title. No more driving to work each morning and passing the corner T-shirt vendors; no more planning nights around basketball games; no more having to read other papers filled with bad news and unkind words for the home team. I knew it was over last night when my friends stopped texting me from the American Airlines Center with their rowdy-loud-and-proud yee-haws and my mom started calling to talk strategy. She wanted to know why Dirk couldn't penetrate in the low post and make "the basket"; my dad was on the back porch, smoking a cigar and embracing the inevitable.

How do you begin to discuss the end? I do not think there will be many stories devoted to that Dwyane Wade shove on Dirk Nowitzki there at the end, nor will be there many mentions of Jason Terry's three-pointer at the buzzer that looked like it was gonna bang through. (I watched it a hundred times on TiVo, always hoping that just once it would drop in.) Dallas blew it, allowing Miami to become only the third team in league history to come back from an 0-2 defecit, and ain't nobody gonna cry for this team outside of Tim Cowlishaw, Randy Galloway and the rest of the homer brigade. By the end, all Dallas had been reduced to in the national media's minds was a collection of finers and whiners--baby-men looking for someone else to blame for their own failures.

That's pretty much how Michael Wilbon sees it this morning in The Washington Post, and as an outsider to this city and this team, he pegs it better than any daily sportswriter in the 214 or 817:

"The Dallas Mavericks wanted us to believe everything but the truth.

They tried to make us think it was the refs who had them in this predicament, down to their last at-bat, their final strike and trailing desperately. They wanted to divert our attention, make us think they were pushed to the brink of elimination because a timeout was called too early, because the zebras missed a Miami back-court violation, because Dwyane Wade was awarded a bushel full of foul shots he didn't deserve. They wanted us to buy into their fantasy--that their anger plus playing back at home were going to be a cure-all.

The Mavericks wanted us to believe everything except the fact that the Miami Heat is a better team."

Yes, this is how the rest of the league and the country's going to perceive Dallas now. (As I am writing this, a longtime out-of-state reader e-mails to ask, "Did the Dallas fans really boo during the trophy ceremony?" Dunno, Jim, but I would not be surprised; that's how this city rolls sometimes, hate to say it.) At this very moment, folks all over the U.S. are waking up in hotel rooms and opening their doors to find USA Today waiting for them. Inside they will find Greg Boeck's hackneyed take on the game, in which he stretches the barbecue metaphor till it turns into pulled pork. But he's right: Dallas, once the favorite in this series, fell apart. Totally. Completely. Horribly.

"The mess the Mavs left behind in Miami--a blown lead, a blowout loss, a suspended player, a bungled timeout, a lot of whining about the officials--followed them across the gulf. Once again, they blew another lead. The Mavs roared ahead 26-12 in the first quarter. They still were up by 10 late in the second quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki, their MVP candidate who finished with 29 points, failed to make a field goal and took only four shots. 'We tried to get him the ball,' said [Avery] Johnson. 'Dirk's a warrior. He tried. No excuses.'"

Pardon, but who's this Dirk of which the Mavericks speak? Last I looked, in the morning papers and on the court, there were but two superstars and warriors out there, and they both had Miami Heat jerseys on. There are plenty of pieces to pick from this a.m. should you so choose to spend your morning reading about the greatness of Dwayne Wade, the Finals' MVP; plenty more are available about the genius of Pat Riley; even more can be found about Shaq, but I can't stomach the idea of fetching any more of these pieces. (Well, I do like The Los Angeles Times' headline this morning: "Hot, Hot Heat," suggesting that someone working the sports copy desk is a big fan of the alt-rock band that sings the mercilessly catch song "Bandages.")

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But we're done here; there's nothing left to do except start counting the days till the Texas Rangers, so barely in first right now, are mathematically eliminated from contention in the American League West. It is going to be a very, very long summer. --Robert Wilonsky

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