Caron Butler receives championship ring tonight

DALLAS – Caron Butler played a role in the Mavs’ championship run despite not playing a second in the playoffs.

Butler served as an inspiration to the Mavs with his relentless effort to rehab from a major knee injury in time to contribute in the postseason. Jason Terry even mentioned on several occasions that the playoff run was a tribute to the man known as “Tuff Juice.”

Butler’s comeback didn’t happen in Dallas. (He would have been cleared for contact a couple of weeks after the NBA Finals ended). Nevertheless, you’ll find nobody within the Mavs organization who doesn’t believe Butler earned the championship ring he’ll be presented in a brief pregame ceremony before tonight’s game against the Clippers.

“At the beginning of the year last year, he got us off to a great start, took a lot of pressure off other guys with his scoring,” owner Mark Cuban said. “Then he was always here working out, always up and in good spirits. He’s just a good guy, and you need guys like that in the locker room.”

The Mavs will have similar ceremonies when DeShawn Stevenson comes to town with the Nets, Tyson Chandler with the Knicks and Corey Brewer with the Nuggets.

Butler didn’t return to Dallas this season because of NBA economics. The Mavs, coveting cap space this summer, weren’t willing to offer a multi-year deal. The Clippers, one of several teams that pursued Butler, gave him a three-year, $24 million contract.

Now, Butler is playing a key role for a contender again, averaging 14.7 points for the 17-8 Clippers.

For a moment tonight at the American Airlines Center, Butler will be treated like a Maverick again. And he’ll always be a champion.