Skip to content

Winderman: 2012 Mavericks are what Heat should have been in 2007

Mar 28, 2012, 12:55 PM EDT

Mavericks forward Marion, guard Kidd, guard Terry and forward Nowitzki stand with the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy before their NBA basketball game in Dallas, Texas Reuters

Heat-Mavericks wasn’t what it was cracked up to be on Christmas Day, and it won’t be on Thursday night either.

At least when cast as an NBA Finals rematch.

Oh, the Heat still start the same lineup they started in Game 6 in the 2011 NBA Finals, the night the Mavericks won the NBA championship at AmericanAirlines Arena, the venue for Thursday’s nationally televised game.

But from the start this season these Mavericks haven’t been those Mavericks. Not even close.

And that, to a degree, pits the rivals in a different sort of competition when it comes to one-hit wonders.

Neither the 2006 Heat (who defeated the Mavericks in those NBA Finals) nor the 2011 Mavericks were expected to win championships. Neither were viewed as potential dynasties once the confetti fell.

But the divergent paths could yet serve as a model for future one-hit wonders when it comes to when to say when.

Despite several shaky moments on the way to that 2006 championship, Pat Riley, known for his organizational loyalty, opted to return with his Heat roster relatively intact, with veterans Antoine Walker, James Posey and Gary Payton brought back. By the midpoint of that season, Walker and Posey were suspended for conditioning issues. By the end of that season, Gary Payton wasn’t merely saving his invectives for the opposition.

Contrast that to the forward-thinking approach of Mark Cuban, who allowed Heat Finals tormentors Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea to depart in free agency, with DeShawn Stevenson also permitted to move on.

What we’re seeing now is what we saw at the end of 2006-07 with the Heat, a defending champion scrambling for playoff seeding. The Heat were swept in the first round in 2007 by the Bulls. The Mavericks, based on their potential opening-round seeding, could be facing the same fate.

But the Mavericks also are flush with potential salary-cap space, Deron Williams-level cap space.

Their championship prospects could wind up on an up-down-up curve.

The Heat post 2006? Not only didn’t they win a playoff game in 2007, but they ended 2007-08 with a league-worst 15-67 record, not to win another playoff series until last season’s run to the Finals, leaving them more up-down-down-down-down-up.

Thursday night, the not-nearly-the-same Mavericks return to AmericanAirlines Arena for the first time since exiting last June with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The shine this time isn’t nearly as bright.

But the future might be, something that couldn’t have been said about the post-championship, post-2006 Heat.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Latest Posts
  1. Kevin Durant confirms he is staying with Nike

    Sep 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    12-390_Nike_KDV_Upper_Detail-02_original

    This is a win for Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

  2. James Harden with more bad defense in USA’s win over Turkey (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Team USA Practice Session Getty Images

    Harden’s reputation on the defensive end of the floor continues to grow.

  3. Rajon Rondo’s agent denies they asked Celtics for a trade

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Whether he asked out or not doesn’t really change his situation much.

  4. Report: Hedo Turkoglu nearing free agent deal to return to Clippers

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    Turkoglu didn’t do much in L.A. last year, but Chris Paul recently touted the importance of consistency in the Clippers’ chances for success next season.

  5. James Harden’s four-point play vs. Turkey (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    James Harden makes the PUJIT work for him.

  6. Team USA trails at the half, then pulls away for 98-77 win over Turkey at FIBA World Cup

    Aug 31, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    The energy of Kenneth Faried helped Team USA pull away in the second half.

  7. Report: Kings finalizing deal to trade Jason Terry to Rockets

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Newly acquired Brooklyn Net's NBA player Jason Terry smiles as he is introduced to the media during a news conference in Brooklyn Reuters

    Terry was never going to be a fit in Sacramento, but could be a nice veteran addition for a Rockets team that plans on contending next season.

  8. Report: Grizzlies waive Jamaal Franklin

    Aug 31, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Jamaal Franklin Jamaal Franklin

    Franklin only played one NBA season, but this will open up a roster spot in Memphis.

  9. Timberwolves set record for ticket sales after trading Kevin Love to Cavaliers

    Aug 31, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins Andrew Wiggins

    In some ways, this new beginning in Minnesota is more interesting than if the team had simply proceeded with the status quo.

  10. Thad Young on Sixers rebuild: ‘They were getting rid of everybody and getting worse’

    Aug 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Thaddeus Young AP

    There’s a big difference between the rebuilding that’s taking place in Minnesota and what’s going on with the Sixers.

  11. Report: Nike nearing deal to keep Kevin Durant for next 10 years

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    BASKET-TPE-US-NBA Getty Images

    Under Armour made a huge offer, but Nike has exercised its right to match.

  12. Report: Rajon Rondo has told Celtics ‘he wants out’

    Aug 31, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving,Tristan Thompson Rajon Rondo, Kyrie Irving,Tristan Thompson

    Rondo is in the same situation Kevin Love was in with Timberwolves, before he was traded to Cavaliers.

  13. Report: Hawks in talks to bring back Elton Brand to round out roster

    Aug 31, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

    He played solidly, particularly on defense, for the Hawks last season.

  14. Deron Williams has resumed basketball activities following offseason surgery (VIDEO)

    Aug 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Getty Images

    Deron looks good, and he’s back on the court ahead of schedule.

  15. World Cup Day 1 roundup: Brazil with big win, Andray Blatche puts on a show

    Aug 31, 2014, 12:45 AM EDT

    Raul Togni Neto, Nicolas Batum Raul Togni Neto, Nicolas Batum

    Andray Blatche had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Philippines, and they still lost.

  16. Manu Ginobili gets statue of himself in Argentina

    Aug 30, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs Getty Images

    The statue is in Buenos Aires, in case you were looking to travel to get your picture with it.

  17. Brook Lopez confident he’ll be better than ever

    Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    That’s a higher bar than most realize

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3110)
  2. K. Love (2529)
  3. T. Mozgov (2392)
  4. K. Bryant (2349)
  5. C. Delfino (2325)
  1. L. James (2161)
  2. R. Allen (2053)
  3. J. Embiid (2015)
  4. D. Waiters (1964)
  5. A. Davis (1951)