Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 1/26/12
DALLAS The Dallas Mavericks have finally completed what coach Rick Carlisle calls "a wonderful trilogy of experiences'' as a result of their NBA title. The final chapter came Wednesday night with a championship ring ceremony that was emotionally movingand the precursor to a "ceremonious'' defeat. "This is an embarrassing loss,'' said Shawn Marion of Dallas' 105-99 collapse at the AAC against upstart Minnesota. "We've all got to sit and look at ourselves. We should be pissed off. We shouldn't have lost this game. This is a game we should have come out and won regardless of the ceremony tonight.'' Really, conventional wisdom suggests they should've won because of the ring ceremony and the motivation that figured to come with it. Unfortunately for Dallas, the positive vibes didn't carry over to the actual game, mirroring what happened in the season-opener when the Mavericks lost to Miami after raising their championship banner. "This has been a wonderful trilogy of experiences - the banner, (visiting) the White House, and then the ring ceremony,'' Carlisle said before detailing Dallas' approach going forward. "But we've got to be able to go from that feel-good moment to getting ready to be a bunch of ass-kickers against this team coming in here, because these guys beat us pretty convincingly the last game.'' "This team'' is the Timberwolves and Carlisle proved prescient. Minnesota downed Dallas 99-82 back on New Year's Day with the Timberwolves scoring the final 15 points of the game. This time around, the Mavericks led by 14 in the second period, but Minnesota rattled off eight straight points before intermission and then manufactured a 13-4 run in the first five minutes of the third quarter. "We lost some concentration,'' Carlisle said. "We were inconsistent. Look, we didn't deserve to win.'' The result stands as another notable blemish on the Mavs' 11-8 record. Another is that 105-94 opening-day drubbing at the hands of the Heat. The loss to Miami, though, came with numerous justifications...namely three in James, Wade and Bosh. This celebration-night loss albeit without sidelined Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter isn't as easy to explain away. The ceremony was crisp, so that wasn't a problem. The 2011 Dallas Mavericks Championship Rings, designed by Jostens with input from players Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, is as large and as gaudy as they come. The rings (reportedly worth 40,000 each) feature 14K white gold, 250 total diamonds and weighs 91.7 grams. The Mavs logo is on top and set against a custom blue stone encircled by 31 princess-cut diamonds, one for each year of the organization. The words "World Champions" are flanked by 10 round-cut diamonds, and each ring also features the player's name, diamonds that replicate the banner and the Larry O'Brien Trophy, and the team motto, "The Time is Now.'' Mavs owner Mark Cuban joined Carlisle as the pregame "emcees,'' both of them smartly detailed the contributions of players and staffers who'd earned the jewelry for contributions to the franchise's first-ever title. Carlisle introduced Nowitzki by referring to him thusly: "10-time All-Star, 2007 league MVP, 2011 Finals MVP and one day soon we'll have a statue outside the AAC, without question, the greatest player in Mavericks history -- Dirk Nowitzki." And Nowitzki, wearing a light-colored three-piece suit, got the last word, with high praise for Cuban ("the best owner in sports'') and a question for the audience of more than 20,000. "How's it look?'' he asked, flashing the huge ring on his finger. The ring, of course, looks ridiculously magnificent. The defending champs, however, keep "turning a corner'' only to find themselves faced with another corner. Minnesota ended the team's seven-game home winning streak and franchise-record 15 consecutive games holding foes under 100 points. Yes, Dirk was sidelined (watching the game, as did the retired Peja Stojakovic and injured ex-Mav J.J. Barea). But the Mavs offered few answers for Timberwolves like Kevin Love, who contributed 31 points and 10 rebounds just hours after signing his new four-year contract extension worth between 60 million and 62 million. But Love wasn't alone. Ricky Rubio was good for 17 points and 12 assists, and people like Wayne Ellington (16 points) and Nikola Pekovic (13 points) were also better than what the Mavs were throwing on the floor. "I know everybody is making a big thing about the ring tonight,'' Marion said. "It's a great thing to receive the ring. But tonight, we still needed to win this game. We're trying to focus on what's at hand right now and the current season and focus on trying to take our baby steps to get to where we want to be. Tonight we just took a hop back.'' Added Kidd: "I think we're all happy that we don't have any more ceremonies for our championship."
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