- Rick Reilly, Columnist, ESPN.com
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MIAMI -- Pull for Dallas to win these NBA Finals because Miami will get forklifts of rings someday. This might be Dallas' last chance.
Pull for Dallas because it got screwed in the 2006 Finals worse than Bartman. To lose to the same team five years later would be tantamount to basketball waterboarding.
Pull for Dallas because Mark Cuban hasn't opened his mouth once.
Pull for Dallas because Nowitzki stayed with his team, never took his talents anywhere but to the damn gym every day.
Pull for Dallas because Nowitzki has stuck it out through 13 seasons so far with this one team, stuck it out through all those depressing playoff springs, all those one-and-dones, all those words people called him -- "loser" "choker" "soft" -- stuck it out even when Steve Nash left, leaving Nowitzki with a lot of nobodies and some mops.
Pull for Dallas because when you ask Nowitzki why he didn't bolt the way everybody else does, he simply says, "Because this is where my heart is."
Pull for Dallas because Nowitzki didn't try to win a title the new way, didn't pick the best kids on the playground and take on everybody else, didn't get a bunch of super-human friends and schedule himself a ring, like you might a kegger or your birthday party.
Pull for Dallas because Nowitzki has this crazy idea about trying to win one the old fashioned way, by getting better.
Pull for Dallas because James is so heaven-sent talented that he'll get more than his share of rings before he's done.
Pull for Dallas because Nowitzki is much closer to done than starting now.
Pull for Dallas because 38-year-old Jason Kidd deserves one, too, despite what he says. "I want this more for Dirk than for me," says Kidd, who's played in three decades -- 17 years -- in this league without champagne in his hair. "All the work Dirk's put in, all the time. Man he deserves it more than anybody on this team. Plus, if he gets it, that means I get one too, right?"
Pull for Dallas because Kidd is the guy everybody likes, the Ray Bourque of the NBA, the one everybody wants to see hold the trophy over his head someday. If he doesn't win it now, in his third Finals try, he'll never win it.
Pull for Dallas because it has the best locker room in the NBA, not a whiner among them. There are more good guys in that room than in some divisions.
Pull for Dallas because it doesn't do pre-championship celebrations. Dallas has this crazy notion that you should actually hold the trophy in your hands before you throw the parade. Wouldn't it be nice to give them one?
Pull for these Dallas Mavericks because the way things are going, the Dallas Cowboys may never win a title again.
Pull for Dallas because it's clear they're the underdogs in this, sort of the way a squirrel is the underdog vs. an owl. You knew that after Tuesday night's Game 1, the way LeBron James was flying over people like Air Florida and Dwyane Wade was dazzling everybody else, the way he does in NBA Finals. You knew that the way they pulled away to that win in Game 1.
Pull for Dallas because its best player, Nowitzki, has a torn tendon in his left middle finger now and yet never once blinked when we asked if he'll keep playing.
Pull for Dallas because it's not about The Decision. It's about one team taking the easy way to a title and another team taking a way that just keeps getting harder.
Pull for Dallas, because, my God, how many good things can happen to Pat Riley in one lifetime?
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Rick Reilly is the 11-time National Sportswriter of the Year. He contributes essays and commentary to "SportsCenter" and ESPN/ABC golf and tennis coverage. He's also the host of "Homecoming," ESPN's unique, one-hour interview show set in the hometowns of legendary athletes. For more Rick, check out the archive.
Feel like taking a detour from sane sports? Try Rick's new book, "Sports from Hell."
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