The more things change, the more they stay the same. Ten years after the Dallas Mavericks’ unexpected championship run, we see an NBA coming off a Los Angeles Lakers’ Finals win, LeBron taking his talents to the highest bidder, and the Mavericks not expected to win out against the powerhouse teams of the league come playoff time.
Can lightning strike twice? Who knows. But as the season rumbles on, let’s take a moment to look back at one of the most unlikely scenarios of that 2010-11 Mavs’ championship season. That’s when the Dallas Mavericks beat the back-to-back NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in four straight games in the West semifinals, dethroning the Black Mamba and ending an era.
Game 1: Mavericks 96, Lakers 94
This whole series played out like a horror movie. Both the Mavs and the Lakers defeated their first-round opponents 4-2, though the Lakers’ wins were much more decisive. The first game was a tight battle. Neither the Lakers nor the majority of the NBA fan base was concerned about the ultimate outcome. Heck, the Kobe-led Lakers lost the first game of the previous series against the Hornets. The Mavs would probably win one more game at home, but the Lakers would pull it off in the end. This is the point in the horror movie when the family moves into the house all happy-go-lucky and then a cabinet opens on its own.
Game 2: Mavericks 93, Lakers 81
This win was a bit more surprising. The Lakers just lost two in a row at home. This one by double digits. But still, no panic. It was only two games. The Lakers lost two games from the previous series, even one at home. This is the point in our little horror movie analogy when the main protagonist – let’s call him Kobe – still thinks everything is hunky dory, but you as an audience member knows something isn’t right.
Game 3: Mavericks 98, Lakers 92
The Mavs outscored the Lakers 32-20 in the fourth quarter to take a three-game lead going into Game 4 at home. The Lakers would have to win four straight games to take the series. At this point, we’ve entered the third act of our little horror movie analogy and the mess is getting real. Something really bad has happened to the comic-relief guy and the consensus among the remaining characters is to get the heck out of the house. But that stubborn main protagonist, who just doesn’t believe in the “impossible,” convinces everyone it’s all going to be OK. So against all better judgment, everyone stays in the demon-infested pit of Hades. Some people just gotta learn the hard way.
Game 4: Mavericks 122, Lakers 86
It was a massacre. The Lakers were outplayed in every level of the game, never seeing anything close to a lead after the first quarter. Kobe managed only 17 points. Like our main protagonist, he didn’t see the monster until it was too late.
The Mavericks went on to win their only NBA title to date, handily defeating LeBron and the so-called “Big Three” down in Miami. As for the Lakers, the legendary Phil Jackson, who brought home five NBA titles for the Lakers, retired in the offseason. The late, and unbelievably great, Kobe Bryant never saw another NBA championship or NBA Finals series again before retiring in 2016.
Here’s to hoping lighting can indeed strike twice. Go Mavs.
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