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Basketball

We Are Living Through the Greatest Sports Moment in Dallas History

No matter what in the NBA Finals, let's take stock of what the last nine months have meant. It's bigger than sports.
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There's been plenty to celebrate over the past calendar year. Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

“Thank you Connor McDavid,” the message began, “for saving us from more Dallas tyranny.”

A D.C.-based friend of mine sent that in the group chat for a fantasy football league we’re in after the Edmonton Oilers tied their series with the Stars at two games apiece. This was more or less around the time a hoops-inclined pal out in Phoenix delivered a vaguely threatening, mostly bummed out, “If your city’s basketball team wins right after your city’s baseball team wins …” And when two Angelenos I know were flummoxed at the prospect of the Stars and Mavericks simultaneously hosting their respective sport’s finals in the same building.

It’s a safe bet that all of those people, like plenty of you, noticed that viral stat making the rounds about the minuscule number of days since three of the four major men’s professional teams reached a conference finals, which underscored the Cowboys’ futility by emphasizing how dominant the Rangers, Mavericks, and Stars have been over the last nine months. Google could have told you that, of course, just as it could have told you that the trio raised its total number of conference finals appearances by nearly a quarter during the most recent seasons. When you expand the scope to include the Wings and FC Dallas, the last calendar year marks the first time all six local teams made the playoffs. If the Mavericks upset the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, North Texas will hold multiple championships simultaneously for the first time ever.

But it is one thing to understand those factoids and quite another to embrace the implication: we are living through the greatest sports moment in Dallas history.

This transcends raw success. The Mavericks’ Finals opponent calls to mind the not-so-distant past, when Boston was America’s undisputed sports mecca by way of the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins trading championships for a decade and a half. The greatest victory was less about the trophy haul than the ubiquity, the steady flow of superiority that made it impossible to escape Boston whenever you turned on SportsCenter or thumbed through headlines on your phone. If you lived in New England, it was bliss. If you didn’t, it was revolting.  

That’s us now, baffling and annoying and bugging the ever-loving crap out of sports fans nationwide who are growing weary of hearing about Dallas, of watching highlights of Dallas, of beseeching teams other than ones from Boston to do the rest of the country’s bidding and find a way to get everyone to shut up about Dallas. It totally rules.

Particularly since to live in Dallas, to love Dallas, is to begrudgingly acknowledge that plenty of longer-established, purportedly higher-brow metropolitan areas enjoy few things more than sneering at Dallas. Too much sprawl. Not enough history. Too many transplants. Not enough culture. To whatever degree the evaluation has ever been accurate, it has certainly not evolved along with this city: nowhere near indicative of how rapidly we are growing more dynamic, more interesting, more diverse, and frankly, more important by the year.

Still, perception dies hard, especially when there’s no mandate for someone to update his or her priors. Chicago will seem bigger even after Dallas eclipses its population footprint, Los Angeles glossier as Californians continue to flee here in droves, New York more vibrant despite demanding its residents embrace masochism as virtue. And Dallas will probably continue to be regarded as lesser than.

But right now, today, we can’t be. We have sports to thank for that. All the pitches thrown last October, each puck dropped this May, and now every ball dribbled into June is an element of Dallas excellence that cannot be diminished or ignored. And even though the Stars could not return to the Stanley Cup Final, and even if the Mavericks cannot finish the job in the NBA Finals, that won’t be erased.

It’s possible this is only the beginning. The Rangers’ late-spring funk doesn’t obscure a collection of twentysomething hitters on the come up, plus Corey Seager just turning 30 following an MVP runner-up and World Series MVP campaign. The Stars’ very best players might be their youngest, which is why they could be even better in 2025 in spite of the venerable Joe Pavelski finally retiring. (David Castillo will have more on that Tuesday.) As for the team suiting up tonight: Luka Doncic is 25 years old and already a better player than the greatest athlete in Dallas history, which is reason enough for optimism before considering that every key figure in this run aside from Kyrie Irving and Maxi Kleber is comfortably under 30.

Except moments, by definition, are fleeting. That’s especially true in sports, where time is prone to skips and jumps, bypassing foretold eras behind before they ever truly began. A gleaming future presided over by Doncic, Wyatt Johnston, and Wyatt Langford is no more guaranteed than the malaise the Rangers and Mavericks seemed destined to stay mired in not so long ago, only to escape in a flash.

All that’s certain is now—this wonderful, improbable, spectacularly Dallas moment we’re living in. Savor it.

Author

Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…
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