I have ESPN on now, and a game between the Portland Trailblazers and the Miami Heat is wrapping up. An announcer just went nuts over something Dwyane Wade did. It takes me back to one of my darkest hours as a sports fan: The 2006 NBA Finals.
I just went to YouTube, but I don’t think I can bear to see it again, so I won’t be posting it here. But if you really want to look, here ya go.
I became a fan of the Dallas Mavericks in high school. The prettiness of Steve Nash was definitely a contributing factor, plus the team was on the rise in the league, with a brash young owner in Mark Cuban and an exciting run-until-your-legs-fall-off form of basketball.
In 2006, they went farther than I thought they would, at least that year. They made it all the way to the Finals. Then they won the first two. I could barely believe it. It was so close. One of “my teams” was poised to win a championship, and I would remember it (the Cowboys heyday in the 90s are kind of a distant memory to me, as I wasn’t much of a football fan around age 8 or 10).
I remember where I was when it all fell apart. At work, doing my stint as a weekend reporter while I was still in college. Game 3 was on a tiny TV in the layout department. The Mavs were ahead. Then they started slipping. Then it was gone.
I get so emotional during games I care about. Too emotional. So I still get some teasing about what I did next: I went into the break room and spotted a spider. I stomped the shit out of it. Long after it was dead, I kept at it. I was angry. I was sad.
Driving home, I hit a rabbit. I couldn’t avoid it; it just darted right out there. It felt symbolic somehow. Of course, I was a liberal arts major. How did you guess?
That was their best chance, and they’ve never gotten close since then. The team has undergone a coaching change, among many others. They’ve been derided as mentally soft. I don’t know what happened. But I know that their best and perhaps only chance to win it all slipped away. In my heart, I’m not sure if they’ll ever get that close again. I fear Dirk Nowitzki, who belongs in the Hall of Fame whenever he retires, will leave the game without a ring.
They were my boys, even though Nash was already gone to Phoenix by that time. Now, they’re a team on the decline rather than on the rise. In 207, they were the top seed in the West, but were shocked by Golden State in the first round. It’s almost as though they’ve never really recovered.
What’s your biggest sports-related heartbreak? Perhaps we can share and heal. When has your heart resembled Steve Nash’s face?
Related: Steve Nash Still Bleeding