250,000 expected for Mavs parade

DALLAS -- Five years after a parade drawn up to celebrate the Dallas Mavericks' first NBA championship backfired, new plans are in place for a ride through the city's streets.

About 250,000 people are expected to turn out Thursday to cheer on Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and the rest of the 2011 champs. Everyone will be there, from the players to the coaches, the front office to franchise founder Donald Carter, who accepted the championship trophy when the Mavs beat the Miami Heat for the title on Sunday night.

"The parade is going to be amazing," said Nowitzki, the Finals MVP. "We're going to enjoy the heck out of that."

In 2006, the Mavericks won the first two games of the NBA Finals and local officials were so excited that they released the route of a parade in case the team won it all. Their foe -- which happened to be the Heat -- used it as motivation to win the next four games.

This time around, the city doesn't have as much money to throw a proper celebration, so Mavs owner Mark Cuban has offered to pick up the tab.

"Mark understands the importance of this moment, not only to him and to the league but to this city," coach Rick Carlisle said.

Nowitzki said the fans deserve it, remembering how he received standing ovations every time he checked into a game when he was a rookie struggling to make the transition from his native Germany to the NBA.

"Been through a lot of ups and downs with the fans but they've always had my back," he said. "This is for them because it's been so long. I'm just really happy for them."

While this was the first championship in the Mavericks' 31-year history, and the first for any of the players in their NBA careers, they have a few parade veterans on the squad. Carlisle went through one as a player with the Celtics in 1986 and Terry had one for winning the NCAA championship at Arizona in 1997.

"It was great," Carlisle said. "That was a highlight and I'm sure this one will be better."

Terry said the parade in Tucson was "unbelievable ... but they do it bigger in Texas, so I can only imagine." He already was trying to envision himself "on that float, just hoisting up that trophy, cigar on my mouth."

"That's probably when all this will sink in for us," he said.

The parade, which will start at the Dallas Convention Center downtown and wind its way north to the American Airlines Center, is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. CT, and the roads will be closed two hours earlier, the city announced. Fans can begin arriving at 7 a.m.

Officials warned fans to be ready for sweltering heat. Hundreds of people greeted the team in 90-degree temperatures when it arrived at Dallas Love Field from Miami around midday Monday.

At the parade's conclusion, a special event for season-ticket holders will be held inside the American Airlines Center. That part of the celebration will be broadcast on televisions in the plaza outside.

The title is the first for any Dallas-Fort Worth team since the Dallas Stars won the NHL's Stanley Cup in 1999. The Texas Rangers won the 2010 American League pennant but lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants.