Heat Win in Dallas, Secure First NBA Title
LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
The Miami Heat won their first NBA championship last night, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 95-92. They became just the third team in NBA history to go on to win the best of seven series after losing the first two games. This was the fourth title for Shaquille O'Neal, but Dwyane Wade was the unquestioned MVP of the series.
Mr. DWYANE WADE (Guard, Miami Heat): When I came into the series, it was, I can't shoot. I don't know where they got that from, but - so I proved to them I can shoot. Now after that, I proved to them I can play, and that's all I try to do, is prove the people wrong all the time.
WERTHEIMER: This was only Wade's third season in the NBA. He scored 36 points last night under Coach Pat Riley.
Mr. PAT RILEY (Head Coach, Miami Heat): He just took it to another level. You all witnessed it. You all watched it. You know, players like that are very hard to come by. I mean, we are so blessed to have him.
WERTHEIMER: For more on the game, we're joined from Dallas by Manny Navarro, who is a sportswriter for The Miami Herald. First of all, let me take you back to Miami. After the Heat returned, they lost the first two games. It looked like they might be swept.
Mr. MANNY NAVARRO (Sportswriter, The Miami Herald): Well, I can tell you, the fans, as well as the team - even though they may not want to admit it, were pretty worried. The Heat were trailing in the fourth quarter of game three by as many as 13 points, and it looked really bleak. And that's when the MVP Dwyane Wade took over and it really seems that he's become the NBA's next big star.
WERTHEIMER: Do you give him credit for the bounce-back to win four straight?
Mr. NAVARRO: Oh, absolutely. I think Dwyane Wade - and I think all the other 14 players on that roster, including Pat Riley, the head coach, would tell you that Dwyane Wade is responsible for this championship. Shaquille O'Neal said it himself - without Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat aren't world champions today.
WERTHEIMER: Some people are comparing him to Michael Jordan. Do you think that's right, or is that just fanciful?
Mr. NAVARRO: Well, I think the comparison to Michael Jordan is pretty amazing for a player only in his third season. But if you ask Wade himself, he'd be the first to tell you, you know, don't compare me to M.J. There's only one M.J. And Pat Riley was actually asked that question before game six: who would you compare him to? And all Riley could come up with is, I'd compare him to a panther - somebody who's ready to stalk its prey and kill when they need to.
And I think Dwyane Wade is sort of a unique player. He's not a Magic Johnson; he's not a Michael Jordan. He's just a great basketball player who really has his own signature game.
WERTHEIMER: Well, what about the other star from Miami? How did Shaq do last night? Do you think he's - is he basically over?
Mr. NAVARRO: You know what? Shaq may have put up his worst play-off numbers of his career this season, but what he brings to the team is so much as far as drawing double teams and getting teams to worry about what he's going to do inside. And so, that frees up a lot of other players to do the things that they do, especially Dwyane Wade.
WERTHEIMER: What about Dallas? This was their first final, also. Mark Cuban, the owner, was unhappy and behaved badly because of some of the calls. You think he had a legitimate beef?
Mr. NAVARRO: Well, if you look at some of the replays, there might have been a couple of calls here and there that Dwyane Wade got from referees. But, you know, while Cuban may have some beef, the Mavericks played poorly down the stretch in the fourth quarter of three games in this series. And they had game five won, and they let that go with some missed free throws. And tonight, you know, they had an opportunity to come back and beat the Heat on their home floor, and they didn't do it. You know, Mark Cuban can blame the refs, but the reality is, the Miami Heat beat them four straight games, and they're the world champions.
WERTHEIMER: Manny Navarro now goes back to the party.
(Soundbite of laughter)
WERTHEIMER: He's a sportswriter for The Miami Herald.