Mavericks fans revel in victory over rival Spurs
With the 119-111 overtime win in Game 7, the Mavericks advanced to the NBA Western Conference finals for the third time in franchise history.
"This means that we better go all the way and win the playoffs," said Saneetra Cooper of Dallas, 20, who celebrated with a plate of crab legs at a Hooters restaurant in Addison, north of Dallas.
"I knew we had it," Cooper said. "This time they did what they were supposed to do."
Mavericks fan packed restaurants and bars in the Dallas area to catch the grand finale of a gut-wrenching playoff series. At Hooters, fans pounded empty beer pitchers on tables and chanted, "Let's go, Mavericks."
The Mavericks gave up a 3-1 series lead as the Spurs won two straight games to push the series to the winner-take-all final. Six of the seven games were decided in the final seconds, and the Spurs overcame a 20-point deficit to force overtime in Game 7.
"I'm going to have a heart condition before this is over," said Dagan Boone, a 35-year-old Irving record executive as Monday night's game headed to overtime.
But Boone's outlook improved after the Mavericks dominated the extra period.
"I think it was an excellent series," he said. "It was great for the city of Dallas, great for the state of Texas and great for basketball in general."
The Mavericks avoided becoming the ninth team to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-1 lead.
The Spurs "tried their hardest," said John Rocha, 25, a San Antonio native who lives in Plano. "They put all the effort in, they just came up a little short. I guess Dallas was meant to do great things this year."
It was the Mavericks' first playoff series win in three tries against the Spurs, all in the last five years.
When the Spurs beat the Mavericks in the Western Conference finals in 2003, they went on to win their second NBA title. The Spurs won their third championship last year, and all have come in the past seven seasons.
"I'm actually sick of the Spurs' success," said Bill White, 36, who watched the game at a Champps Restaurant in Dallas. Mavericks fans stood shoulder-to-shoulder to catch the game on big-screen TVs.
Boone said beating the defending NBA champions is just icing on the cake.
"It's overcoming the hump more than revenge," he said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press