Mavs coach throws strike, reflects on title

ARLINGTON, Texas – For the first time since the buzzer sounded that night in Miami, touching off all kinds of celebrating in Dallas, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sat down and watched Game 6 in its entirety.

It took him two days. He watched the first half Monday and the second half Tuesday, hours before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday’s Red Sox-Rangers game.

“It’s the first time I’ve sat down and watched it in detail,” Carlisle said, shortly after throwing a strike to Rangers manager Ron Washington to huge cheers from the crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. “It was such a great series, such an intriguing series. The level of basketball was so high and so pure. It was an unforgettable 14 days.

"There were so many things special about it: how important it was for our fans to have that feeling, Mark Cuban being able to hoist a trophy and put it next to him on the plane coming home and sleep with it and all that.”

Carlisle recently returned to the Mavericks offices, preparing for a season that may or may not happen. He couldn’t comment about the lockout, but did talk about what the championship meant to him, the team and the city.

“Watching film from last year, it becomes more clear what a special experience that was, what a special group of guys that we have,” Carlisle said. “I think maybe more than anything, the magnitude of winning in Dallas. It’s a city that’s uncompromising in how important it is to be the best. I have no doubt that it’s something that drives every one of our sports teams. It drove us very hard. Now our guys enter that pantheon of teams that have won a world championship in Dallas. Those guys are held in high regard and our guys are deserving.”

Carlisle admitted that he isn’t sure whether the team will get rings, the traditional post-championship sports prize.

“I don’t have details,” Carlisle said. “I’m sure whatever is done will be appropriate.”

Carlisle certainly enjoyed his experience in Arlington. He said he threw some tennis balls against the wall of the Mavericks locker room to practice, but didn’t want to throw too many for fear of wearing out his arm.

He waved to the crowd, threw what he called a “hybrid” that caught the corner of the plate, and held his arms out and smiled. Then he got Rangers CEO and president Nolan Ryan’s autograph, saying he was “stoked” about it.

“I got a chance to meet Ron Washington beforehand and he’s just such an even-tempered guy,” Carlisle said. “I felt pretty relaxed before I went out there. He told me he was going to catch. I said, 'Are you sure you want to do that?’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m catching you.’ It was kind of a reassuring thing having him out there. It worked out.”