DeShawn Stevenson: Heat 'classless'

MIAMI -- DeShawn Stevenson admitted that beating self-proclaimed king LeBron James made the Dallas Mavericks' championship even sweeter.

"It makes me feel good, man, to beat him, to beat that Miami team," Stevenson told ESPNDallas.com in an AmericanAirlines Arena hallway after the Mavs clinched the title with Sunday's Game 6 win. "The way they act, the way they treated Dirk [Nowitzki], all the things that they said were very classless. To win on the court the way we did it, it was wonderful."

The Mavericks thought James and Dwyane Wade disrespected Nowitzki, who was named Finals MVP, by mocking his cough in front of television cameras after the Game 5 shootaround. Nowitzki, who played Game 4 with a sinus infection that caused a nasty cough and a 101-degree fever, called the incident "a little childish, a little ignorant."

Stevenson's hostile history with James goes back much further than these Finals. Stevenson's Washington Wizards were eliminated by James' Cleveland Cavaliers three consecutive postseasons.

The last Wizards-Cavaliers series, in 2008, featured a feud between Stevenson and James that eventually involved a pair of high-profile rappers.

It started with Stevenson calling James "overrated." LeBron answered that responding to Stevenson would be like rap icon Jay-Z getting into it with one-hit wonder Soulja Boy.

And then it was really on.

Stevenson reached out to Soulja Boy after the Cavs took a 2-0 lead. After the creator of "Crank Dat" got the Verizon Center crowd rowdy by doing his famous dance as his song blared over the loudspeakers, Stevenson drilled five 3-pointers while harassing James into an off night during a lopsided Washington win.

James rolled his eyes at postgame questions about a rivalry with Stevenson. However, The Washington Post reported that James had Jay-Z record a song with lyrics that ripped Stevenson, a track that was played at James' party the next night at D.C. hotspot Love.

The trash-talking didn't exactly help Stevenson's cause during that series. James averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists as the Cavs won in six, closing out the series with a triple-double in D.C.

Stevenson, a rugged role player who averaged 7.0 points and made 13 of 23 3-point attempts in the series, got revenge in these Finals while making headlines with critical comments of James. He called James and Wade "great, great actors" due to their exaggerations to draw foul calls after the Heat took a 2-1 series lead. After Game 4, Stevenson said James "checked out" in the fourth quarter.

"A series like this gets personal," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "It gets personal because we have guys that say things, and they do it to get themselves going. Then they have the incident with the camera and the coughing and all that stuff. You get to Game 5, Game 6 and it becomes personal. Our guys took it personally."

James struggled throughout the Finals, averaging 17.8 points, which was 8.9 fewer than his regular season average. That dropoff from the regular season to the Finals was the largest in NBA history among players who averaged 25 points during the regular season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Shawn Marion, Stevenson and Jason Kidd took turns covering the two-time MVP.

"They did a great job defensively," said James, who scored only 18 points in fourth quarters in the Finals. "Very underrated defensive team. They took me out of a lot of things that I'm capable of doing or used to doing. ... Much respect to them."

Stevenson, like many of the Mavericks, did not feel as if the Heat respected them during the series. That added a little extra enjoyment to Sunday night's celebration.

"I think we did it with class," said Stevenson, who was involved in a shoving match with Miami's Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers that resulted in technical fouls for each during the second quarter of Game 6. "They tried all kind of different things and made fun of us and were on the go-karts laughing after Game 1, like they already won the championship. To beat them on their court, it feels good."

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.