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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Thousands of Dallas Mavericks fans flooded into downtown Dallas Thursday to celebrate the city’s first sports title in over a decade.
The city expected a large crowd, and 200,000 Rowdy, Loud & Proud Mavs fans proved them right.
The official Dallas Mavericks NBA Championship victory parade flowed for more than an hour and the celebration at the American Airlines Center is now in the books. The parade officially began just after the scheduled 10 a.m. start time, by then crowds had already jammed the parade route and Victory Plaza at the American Airline Center.
Just before the parade reporters talked with Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki as he prepared for the celebration. ‘We’re on top of the world right now. It’s great! It’s what we’ve all played for for 13 years.”
Some fans camped out overnight at the American Airlines Center to get a good spot and others began lining up along the parade route hours before the suggested 7 a.m. arrival time.
Just before 8:00 a.m. the City of Dallas officially closed Victory Plaza. An official notice said the area had “reached the 3,000 person maximum capacity.” People were being advised to find another spot along the parade route.
Two hours before the parade, Nowitzki tweeted: “Mav nation on the move. Thx so much.”
Basketball fans watched the parade, consisting of a fleet of three floats, 10 convertibles and a dozen trucks carrying team star Dirk Nowitzki and all the Mavericks players, owner Mark Cuban, team founder Don Carter and even Nowitzki’s guru, Holger Geschwindner.
Fans reveled and cheered as Cuban road in a convertible, carrying the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy.
The heat didn’t stop the crowds from coming down to celebrate, but well over 100 people had to be treated for heat-related illness, with nine being taken to area hospitals.
The victory parade began at the Dallas Convention Center and finished at the American Airlines Center. Parade participants road from the intersection of Griffin Street and Young Street, west on Young Street, north on Houston Street, west on Continental Avenue and then north onto Victory Avenue. (See a map of the parade route.)
All the major highways going through and around downtown were congested. Just after 8:00 a.m. streets along the parade route were closed off and traffic in the area is expected to be incredibly slow throughout the day. (Click here for the latest traffic updates.)
When the parade was over, from an AAC balcony, Dirk Nowitzki led the team and thousands of fans in singing their new favorite song: “We Are The Champions.”
The team and coaches then went inside the AAC for a special event for Mavericks season ticket holders. As tickerholders waited for the team to arrive they were treated to a replay of the championship-clinching Mavs victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday.
Just before coaches and players arrived, fans who didn’t have season tickets, but had waited outside in Victory Plaza, were allowed in the AAC. Those who couldn’t get inside were able to enjoy the event from outside, broadcast on the HD screens in Victory Plaza.
The tab for the parade and celebration is expected to run between $500,000 and $1 million. Mavs owner Mark Cuban has offered to pick up the tab for the entire victory celebration and it’s believed the city is allowing him to do so.
CBSDFW.COM streamed coverage of the parade and celebration live and the event was also broadcast live on CBS 11. A rebroadcast of the parade will air on TXA 21 Thursday night at 8:00 p.m.
(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)