After the streets of Dallas were overflowing with around 30,000 fans this past Sunday following the Mavs 105-95 demolishing of the evil Miami Heat, downtown Dallas welcomed in close to ten times that many fans on Thursday June 16 for its Championship Celebration and Parade. Depending on who you believe, there were between 200,000 and 325,000 Dallas Mavericks lined up on the parade route that stretched from the Dallas Convention Center to AT&T Plaza between the W Hotel and American Airlines Center in Victory Park.
It was a party that was 31 years in the making as founding owner Donald Carter, owner Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, Brian Cardinal, Rick Carlisle and the rest of the NBA champs put on a show for their fans. It all began shortly after 10:00am as the floats, cars and trucks emerged one-by-one from the Dallas Convention Center and wound its way through the ocean of people that lined the downtown streets -- in many cases at least 10 deep. Police had assigned 540 officers to the parade and afterward reported only three arrests as the fans remained behind the barricades. The loudest cheers came for owner Mark Cuban and his aloft passenger, the Larry O'Brien Trophy and the final float carrying NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, Jason 'JET' Terry and Jason Kidd. The beautiful Dallas Mavericks Dancers float also drew loud applause.
As the parade came to an end, the Mavs season ticket holders were inside the air-conditioned AAC and awaiting the rally. But the Mavs had one last surprise in mind for their loyal fans out in the brutal Texas heat. The team came out on the balcony outside of the Audi Club that looks down on the AT&T Plaza and saluted the fans with a Dirk-led rendition of We Are the Champions. The rally inside the arena had more singing was on tap as Cuban led a "Happy Birthday" serenade to Dirk as the Mavs superstar turns 33 on Sunday.
With his teammates and fans chanting "MVP," Dirk was overcome with emotion. "It's been an amazing ride, an amazing journey," he said. "It's been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. This is the top of the iceberg and it feels absolutely amazing."
Mark Cuban picked up the bill for the celebration that was said to be in excess of $1 million. It was the first championship parade for DFW since the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999 while still playing at Reunion Arena. For this day, and hopefully many in the future, Victory Park in Dallas lived up to its name.
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