<
>

Title close for former Mavs owner Donald Carter

Don Carter walked through the bowels of the American Airlines Center getting cheers as if he was a player. He walked past the two-story bar inside the arena and fans were banging on the glass yelling at the 77-year old man who was the first owner of the Dallas Mavericks franchise.

The man who wears a large Cowboy hat to Mavericks game is still recognized.

Carter, who sold a large portion of the team to Ross Perot Jr. in 1996, and still owns a small percentage of the club, is a season ticket holder who fist pumps current owner Mark Cuban.

As the majority owner, Carter, got close to a NBA title before his Mavericks lost in the Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988, is nearing it again.

In the 2006 Finals, the Mavericks held a 2-0 lead over the Miami Heat and Carter thought about what type of ring he was going to get. Dallas ended up losing 4-2. And now thanks to a 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night, the Mavericks are as close as ever to a title. Needing just one win.

"Yes, in 2006, I was ready to order a ring," Carter said Thursday night. "I'm not going to take anything for granted now. But I do have a very good feeling."

Carter said he purchased the team for his wife of 51 years, Linda Jo, because she played high school basketball. It's that love affair between the two, that and basketball, that's bonded them over the years.

Linda Jo sits with her husband at every Mavericks game and she was getting cheers too from fellow season ticket holders before they jumped into a car after Thursday night's game.

"I love this team," said Don Carter, who plans on attending Game 6 in Miami on Sunday. "I love this series and regardless of whether we win it or not this has been a good series for basketball. The fans are excited and I think the players are too."