Celebration Ends; Mavs Reign as Champs Begins

Mavs celebration moves inside the AAC

Cheered on by thousands of happy fans, Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban and the NBA champion Mavericks rolled through the streets of downtown Dallas on Thursday in a parade celebrating the club's first NBA championship -- a win over the Miami Heat who bested Dallas for the Larry O'Brien trophy in 2006.

By 8 a.m., the Dallas Police Department closed Victory Plaza because it had reached maximum capacity.  MFFLs, of which 250,000 were expected to attend, were directed to other locations along the downtown parade route.  So far, attendance estimates are not available.

Fans that didn't make it into Victory Park were still able to find a good spot with plenty of visibility.  Two huge mobile TVs were placed near the intersections of Olive/Victory and Olive/Houston to aid in that endeavor.

The parade was kicked off by franchise founder Donald Carter and his wife, Linda, for whom he started the club as gift, were in the lead vehicle, a white convertible.  "Fantastic," Carter said.

Also in the parade were legendary Mavericks like Rolando Blackman and Brad Davis.  Team staffers and coaches were even joined by actor and musician Jaime Foxx, a native of nearby Terrell.

Most of the players wore T-shirts that read, "Raise the Banner."

"It's unbelievable," Nowitzki said as he took a cigar from teammate Jason Terry before boarding his float. "If it hasn't sunk in yet, it will now. ... We're on the top of the world now so it feels amazing. For 13 years I've waited for this moment. It's amazing and we're all going to enjoy it."

The parade route was less than a mile long, starting near City Hall on Young Street.  The parade went west to Houston Street before going north to Continental.  At Continental, the parade route then turned on Victory for the final stretch leading to the American Airlines Center. See a map of the parade route here.

At the end of the parade, those who rode along said they were overwhelmed by the turnout -- people as far as they could see. "I'm numb," said Donnie Nelson, the team's president of basketball operations.

There was still one more layer to the party, a ceremony with 10,000 season-ticket holders inside American Airlines Arena. The plaza around the building was filled to its 3,000-person capacity about two hours before the parade even began.

Inside the arena, most people came wearing blue, as they did throughout the postseason. They watched the parade and outdoor scene on the video board, chanting "M-V-P!" along with the fans outside when Terry introduced Nowitzki and singing along when Nowitzki began crooning. They also were treated to video clips from the finals and some behind-the-scenes footage in the locker room, the bus ride from the arena and the next morning at the hotel.

Associated Press writers Jaime Aron, Linda Stewart Ball and Diana Heidgerd contributed to this report.

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