Mike Monroe: Tears and some stark reality for Mavs

DALLAS — The Mavericks raised their 2010-11 NBA championship banner to the rafters at American Airlines Center on Christmas Day, and it was a little too much for Dirk Nowitzki.

The Finals MVP admitted he choked up and had to work hard to hold back a tear or two as he took in the emotional ceremony.

“There were a couple waiting to come out,” he said.

Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem understood the emotion. They felt the same way on banner night in Miami in 2006.

Then, the Chicago Bulls put a 108-66 humiliation on them that was far worse than the 105-94 blowout this season’s Heat handed the Mavericks in Sunday’s rematch of last seasons Finals.

To be sure, this was a Christmas Day massacre. Miami led by 35 in the third period, a margin big enough for Wade and LeBron James to laugh through serial miscues committed by the end-of-the-bench reserves in the fourth quarter.

The Heat on Sunday were a team with chemistry born of continuity taking maximum advantage of a team adapting to more than emotion. The Mavericks had two new starters, and by halftime, coach Rick Carlisle swapped out one of those for another newcomer.

“The Spurs ought to be feeling pretty good about now,” said Will Perdue, a member of their 1999 title team, who’s now a broadcaster. “There’s no team in the league that the 66-game season helps more than the Spurs. They’ve got all those guys back who have been in their program.”

Carlisle understands his team can’t be what it was last season when defensive standout center Tyson Chandler got most of the court time and backup Brendan Haywood logged just 18 minutes per game.

“I think it’s important to point this out and be very clear about it: Brendan Haywood is not Tyson Chandler,” he said.

Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson cut a smart deal when Chandler made it clear he intended to sign a free-agent contract with the Knicks. By negotiating a sign-and-trade deal, Dallas netted a trade exception that turned into former Laker Lamar Odom.

Odom’s Christmas debut was spotty. He made his first shot, missed his next five and got thrown out of the game in the third period after getting two quick technical fouls.

“This is a different system,” Carlisle said. “There are similarities with what we do with where he came from, but there are enough differences, so that’s going to be work — for us and for him. I see him being able to make the transition quickly because he’s a smart player, a skilled player and he can do a lot of things.

“But when you’re one of those kind of players and you’re playing all different positions on the floor, there’s more to digest.”

Odom’s reality-star wife, Khloe Kardashian, electronically voiced her objection to Odom’s ejection from a courtside seat. She didn’t see anything from her hubby that merited two techs, she tweeted to 5-million-plus followers.

Reality bites, Khloe. NBA refs don’t care what you think.

Odom, a versatile big man with exceptional skills, seems more optimistic than Carlisle that he can adapt quickly to a system that is less geometrically defined than what the Lakers played.

“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball,” he said. “From first grade to college to the NBA, it’s pick-roll on offense and help-recover on defense. Basketball is a universal language, so I’ll be all right.”

So will the Mavs, but Christmas Day gave the reigning champs an early clue that defending won’t be easy.

“The good thing is we’ve got a game tomorrow,” Carlisle said. “The bad thing is we’ve got a game tomorrow and Denver is going to come in here with a shot at the champs. It’s a situation where we’ve got to work to make quantum leaps as often and as quickly as we can as a team.”


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