As title slips away, Mavs fans ready to assign blame

Updated: June 21, 2006, 8:34 AM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- As the final buzzer sounded, brooding Dallas Mavericks fans looked for reasons why their team failed to win its first NBA title after jumping out to a 2-0 lead against the Miami Heat.

The Heat's 95-92 victory on Tuesday night gave Miami its first NBA championship instead. Miami won the series 4-2 and celebrated the historic win on the Mavericks home court.

"I paid $1,200 for these tickets, and we did not win," said Ashleigh Adams of Arlington, among dejected Mavericks fans who streamed out of the American Airlines Center and made plans to drown their sorrows at local bars.

"We got the coach. We got the team. We wanted it all this year, though," said Korby Keene. "The Heat aren't that good. The refs gave them the game."

Fan criticism of the referees followed the example provided by the Dallas owner.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $250,000 on Tuesday for his outbursts following Game 5 of the NBA finals, and commissioner David Stern said he was growing weary of off-court antics drawing attention from the series.

Cuban was cited for "several acts of misconduct" committed after Dallas lost 101-100 in overtime to the Heat in Miami on Sunday night. The infractions included Cuban going onto the floor to complain directly to official Joe DeRosa, screaming toward Stern and a group of league officials.

Stern was booed loudly by the fans that remained in the stands during the postgame trophy presentation on Tuesday night.

"If we believe that the last great conspiracy theory in Dallas was JFK's death, the second greatest conspiracy theory was that David Stern wanted the Miami Heat to win the championship," said Mavericks fan George Graffy, 41.

Three people were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges, and one was treated at the scene after a fight in the arena parking lot. All involved were Mavericks fans. Police said tension from the game contributed to the incident.

At least some fans were not willing to blame the Mavericks' title loss on someone else.

"The game was unbelievable but understandable. If you lose Game 3 the way we did, you can't blame it on the refs. The true fan understands that the turning point [was] Game Three," said Ramon Guajardo, 27.

"I'm bummed, I'm going to go drink heavily. It will not be a good night," said James Jones, 50, who sported a suit, tie and a blue mohawk for the game.

At Frankie's Sports Bar and Grill, the owner, Bill Katz, painted his face in Mavericks colors and waved a large flag when the score got close to exhort the faithful to cheer for the home team.

Much of their energy was spent responding to two boisterous fans from Miami. The women, who were heavily outnumbered by Mavericks fans, boldly wore bright Heat T-shirts and clapped and cheered on every Miami score.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press