Mavs return to Miami for first time since Finals
MIAMI - Brendan Haywood was like a tour guide in the AmericanAirlines Arenas visitor's locker room.
The Dallas center had the same locker for Thursday's game against Miami that he did last June when the Mavericks defeated the Heat to win their first NBA title. He sat in front of it before the game pointing out some places of celebration from when the Mavericks had previously occupied the room.
"Right here, Tyson (Chandler, a since-departed Dallas center) was seen in the picture pouring champion on coach (Rick Carlisle)," Haywood said about the win in Game 6 for a 4-2 Finals victory. "It was right there."
There was so much champagne spilled that night that Dallas forward Shawn Marion said "we still smell it a little bit." But then Marion said he was joking.
There was a lot of fun talk when the Mavericks showed up for the morning shootaround and for the game. While the Mavericks had played Miami once this season, that game, a 105-94 Heat victory on Dec. 25, was in Dallas.
"It was great coming back because the last time we obviously won a title, and there are a lot of good memories coming back, just thinking about hoisting that trophy," Haywood said. "It was a great night of celebration, especially when you look at the fact that at no point in time was this team favored or really expected to win a championship."
Some might think Dallas' win last season was able to erase memories of 2006, when the Mavericks blew a 2-0 series Finals over the Heat and a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 3 before losing the series 4-2. But guard Jason Terry, who joins forward Dirk Nowitzki as one of just two Dallas players to have played in both Finals, says that isn't so.
"I still think about 05-06," Terry said. "That's just me, personally. I see that was the reason why we were able to overcome and endure what we did last year. So that's the lasting memory I have. The trophy, that was great… But I looked up (at the morning shootaround) and saw that trophy and that banner, and I was just saying, ‘That one should have been (the Mavericks')."'
Dallas owner Mark Cuban also still is haunted from 05-06. That series included Cuban being fined for blasting the officiating.
"Considering I had to walk by all the pictures of ‘06, I just think the scene of the crime," Cuban said about photos from Miami's 2006 title run plastered over the walls outside the Heat's locker room. "That's the words that come to my mind."
But what were Cuban's memories of 2011?
"Last year, we just won," said Cuban, who said he would be more sentimental Thursday if he were coming back to Miami to live.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson