Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/25/11
DALLAS On a day Dallas fans booed him, NBA commissioner David Stern defended the Mavericks and second-guessed those who already have written off the team in its quest to defend the title. "It's ironic," Stern said of the Mavs, "that the most underrated team in the league is the NBA champions." The commissioner good-naturedly compared his relationship with Dallas owner Mark Cuban to that of a "dysfunctional family," and Mavs fans are aware of this. Stern was booed by some fans during the defending champions' pregame banner-raising ceremony at American Airlines Center boos that turned to cheers when he congratulated the North Texas fans on their support of the 2010-11 NBA champs. Prior to the ceremony, he met the media to offer praise for Dallas and the SuperTeam assembled in Miami. On the assumption that Miami is superior to Dallas (and maybe everyone else) a theory that played out Sunday in the Heat's convincing victory: "Everyone seems to be mailing the trophy again," Stern said before the game. "I said before last season, I think we have to play the season. We're not mailing the trophy to Miami.' And it turned out we were mailing it to Dallas, and we'll see what happens this year, although Miami really seems formidable with those three superstars." On the Heat's acquisition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh a year ago that teamed them with Dwyane Wade and sent Miami to the Finals (where it lost to Dallas): "I think that players who are able to move from team to team because they are free agents, having played under their contracts, their rookie extension, whatever it is, and find a team that is managed well enough to be under the cap, so that it can acquire more than one player, I think that's fine," Stern said. On the Heat as presently constructed: "The Heat are an interesting and fun team, so they engender a lot of enthusiasm and following." On LeBron: "I see a level of acceptance and maturity, that it's fun to watch someone grow," Stern said. Stern downplayed the fact that the owners of the two teams in Sunday's game Cuban and Miami's Micky Arison voted against the ratification of the CBA proposal that passed and allowed for this shortened 66-game season. He also said the league has no issue with veteran stars like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard attempting to dictate their trade-related futures. "If a player has played a number of years in the league seven, eight and he says, 'I don't want to re-sign in this particular city, I have a different choice' it doesn't concern us at all that he has that option," Stern said. "This league has embraced free agency and has for decades, and that's fine with us."
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