The Dallas Mavericks won't receive their 2010-11 championship rings in a ceremony on Christmas Day on national TV, before they take on the Miami Heat team they felled in the Finals last June. And the Mavericks aren't declining to hold the ceremony because they don't want to be jerks in the face of the Heat, or raise the ire of a team that could run roughshod over them on opening day. That would be a classy and intelligent move, but the Mavs have another valid reason.
Dallas owner Mark Cuban wants to go shopping with Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and any other Maverick that wants to have a say in how the rings will look. Because Cuban has been precluded by the NBA from speaking to his players since July 1 (with one notable exception), and because he can't speak to his players until the NBA's collective bargaining agreement is signed off next week, he hasn't had a chance to include them in the proceedings.
Here's Jason Terry, the lone Maverick to show up to the team's practice facility on Thursday, to ESPN Dallas:
"I think he is waiting for J-Kidd and Dirk and I to come up with something," Terry said Thursday when he was the lone Mavs player to work out at the American Airlines Center on the first day that locked-out players could return to their teams' practice facilities.
Cuban added that he considered handing out fake rings at the opener, but decided to hold the banner raising ceremony and ring presentation on separate nights, giving fans that might have attended the canceled Nov. 1 opener, but have other plans on Christmas Day, a chance to see one of the special moments.
Cuban later confirmed Terry's suspicions to ESPN Dallas Thursday night.
Had this just been a case of Dallas not wanting to rub Miami's face in it, we can understand -- though the team will raise the championship banner in front of the Heat on Christmas Day. Had the Mavericks gone ahead and procured rings (even temporary ones) to hand out before the game, we'd understand as well. And because Cuban has a great relationship with his players, his final choice in delaying the ceremony is completely understandable.
Basically, it's a win-win-win. And they've earned that, because they won it.
By the way, the last defending champion heading into a lockout-shortened season was the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, a team that retained just four players from its 1998 roster the following year. Each of that year's championship rings were either mailed to or awarded to players as they visited the United Center as an opponent. Good thing Chicago didn't host Houston that shortened season, because handing a ring to Scottie Pippen would have been awk-ward.
No input from the players on those ducats, by the way. Team owner Jerry Reinsdorf had Michael Jordan's ring all ready for him when his retirement ceremony rolled around about three weeks before the 1999 season started. And yes, just one post later, I'm back to talking about the 1999 season.
Either way -- sound move, Mark Cuban.
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