As title slips away, Mavs fans ready to assign blame

DALLAS -- As the final buzzer sounded, brooding Dallas
Mavericks fans looked for reasons why their team failed to win its
first NBA title after jumping out to a 2-0 lead against the Miami

The Heat's 95-92 victory on Tuesday night gave Miami its first
NBA championship instead. Miami won the series 4-2 and celebrated
the historic win on the Mavericks home court.

"I paid $1,200 for these tickets, and we did not win," said
Ashleigh Adams of Arlington, among dejected Mavericks fans who
streamed out of the American Airlines Center and made plans to
drown their sorrows at local bars.

"We got the coach. We got the team. We wanted it all this year,
though," said Korby Keene. "The Heat aren't that good. The refs
gave them the game."

Fan criticism of the referees followed the example provided by
the Dallas owner.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $250,000 on Tuesday for his
outbursts following Game 5 of the NBA finals, and commissioner
David Stern said he was growing weary of off-court antics drawing
attention from the series.

Cuban was cited for "several acts of misconduct" committed
after Dallas lost 101-100 in overtime to the Heat in Miami on
Sunday night. The infractions included Cuban going onto the floor
to complain directly to official Joe DeRosa, screaming toward Stern
and a group of league officials.

Stern was booed loudly by the fans that remained in the stands
during the postgame trophy presentation on Tuesday night.

"If we believe that the last great conspiracy theory in Dallas
was JFK's death, the second greatest conspiracy theory was that
David Stern wanted the Miami Heat to win the championship," said
Mavericks fan George Graffy, 41.

Three people were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges, and
one was treated at the scene after a fight in the arena parking
lot. All involved were Mavericks fans. Police said tension from the
game contributed to the incident.

At least some fans were not willing to blame the Mavericks'
title loss on someone else.

"The game was unbelievable but understandable. If you lose Game
3 the way we did, you can't blame it on the refs. The true fan
understands that the turning point [was] Game Three," said Ramon
Guajardo, 27.

"I'm bummed, I'm going to go drink heavily. It will not be a
good night," said James Jones, 50, who sported a suit, tie and a
blue mohawk for the game.

At Frankie's Sports Bar and Grill, the owner, Bill Katz, painted
his face in Mavericks colors and waved a large flag when the score
got close to exhort the faithful to cheer for the home team.

Much of their energy was spent responding to two boisterous fans
from Miami. The women, who were heavily outnumbered by Mavericks
fans, boldly wore bright Heat T-shirts and clapped and cheered on
every Miami score.