The 2011 NBA Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks is known as a major defeat in LeBron James’ career.
Simply put: James underperformed in four consecutive fourth quarters vs the Mavs.
As a result, the Mavs defeated a heavily favored Miami Heat team that featured Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the first year of Miami’s “Big 3” era.
What often gets lost in translation is just how good the Mavericks were that year.
Before the Mavs even got to the 2011 NBA Finals, Dallas swept Kobe Bryant and the defending NBA Champion, Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA’s Western Conference semifinals and they also beat a young Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.
If you’re keeping score at home, that OKC team featured an explosive trio of James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
If you’re still keeping tabs at home, the Mavs were underdogs in all four playoffs series that they played during their 2011 championship run.
“Our mindset was just us against the world,” retired NBA veteran turned basketball analyst Brendan Haywood told Fred Ennette on a recent episode of the Unnecessary Roughness Podcast.
Haywood suited up at center for that Dallas squad and according to Haywood, confidence was the major key to that 2011 title.
“We knew that a lot of people didn’t believe that we could win the NBA Finals that year,” said Haywood. “We actually weren’t favored in any playoff series that we went into that year.”
Although Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki was the team’s lone all-star in 2011 that Mavs team had other key pieces.
Cue up your memory reel to the likes of Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and 2018 Naismith Hall of Fame inductee, Jason Kidd.
“We had a bunch of veterans that knew what it was about,” said Haywood.
“We knew that if we executed the game plans that our coaching staff put in place that we could do a lot of things that no one thought we could do.”