Only not all the champions were still in Mavericks colors, Tyson Chandler off to New York, J.J. Barea to Minnesota, Caron Butler to the Clippers, DeShawn Stevenson off in his own world.
It was as if a champion had capitulated even before being formally coronated.
Now, 18 months removed from that title, the Mavericks also take the court without Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
Only four 2011 champion Mavericks remain in Dallas.
It used to be, of course, that a champion would stand and fight, the Celtics at least believing they had fully milked their Big Three of Pierce, Garnett and Allen.
Now the Lakers are trying to reinvent themselves amid a closing window for Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
Now the Knicks are hoping their grumpy old men can make it to and through one more championship chase.
Now the Thunder are selling off an expensive part even before being part of a championship.
Oh, the Spurs continue to push along with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and perhaps Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford have replenishment on the way in the form of Kawhi Leonard.
But outside of the Heat, who face 2014 opt-out clauses with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, we simply aren't hearing much talk about dynasties anymore.
Not like we did with the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls teams that couldn't be sated with a single championship.
Of course, the NFL will tell you that's a good thing, with its built-in parity-by-schedule.
And David Stern, Adam Silver and the owners who took such a hard line during last year's lockout will probably tell you the same thing, that this is the exact intent of the soon-to-be repressive luxury tax.
With his moves the past two seasons, Mark Cuban has said as much in Dallas, that this now is a league where you pounce when the opportunity is there. And if you miss on a Deron Williams, you reload on a year-by-year basis, make sure you avoid the new recidivist luxury tax, and then seize the next championship moment.
Cuban's approach is smart business. It well could be that Micky Arison learns his approach with the Heat is not, when it is quite possible that James, Wade and Bosh starting in 2014-15 are surrounded by nothing but minimum-scale teammates due to cap and tax limitations.
The exceptions to parity-by-tax are the Lakers and Knicks, with their local television windfalls providing the type of revenue footing practically no one else in the league can match (when also accepting that, in Chicago, Jerry Reinsdorf has zero tolerance when it comes to the tax).
Of course, no one told Cuban he couldn't keep his championship core. There are no mechanisms in the NBA's new collective-bargaining agreement that would have prevented him from retaining Chandler, Barea, Butler, Stevenson, Terry and Kidd, who, indeed, the Mavericks thought they had re-signed this past summer.
But to see Dirk Nowitzki on the verge of stepping back into action with nothing more than a .500 team less than two seasons removed from a championship leaves one to wonder what's wrong with this picture.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
Annually, we read about the NBA's playoff pool, the millions to be split among playoff teams and their players.
Perhaps it is time for a champion's exemption on the luxury tax.
Win a title and get a $50 million luxury-tax credit. Or for teams operating below that stratosphere, receive an extra salary-cap exception.
Real cash for real winners.
Yes, the rich would get richer.
But it also would allow for the return of the NBA dynasty, the teams that have stood as the very foundation of the league.
For years, some analysts, coaches and executives have complained that the very structure of the NBA Draft rewards failure, with some advocating a lottery for all 30 spots.
But that would penalize those in need of restructuring, teams that may have fallen on hard times due to underperforming players, injuries, free-agent wanderlust, location — sort of what the Hornets benefited by with the lottery victory of Anthony Davis.
Yet at a time our politicians push voucher programs, perhaps a few tax credits in the NBA might just go a long way.
Sure the Larry O'Brien trophy glistens. But perhaps a little more gold would provide even greater championship incentive, for good teams to dare to be great and for great teams to dare dream of dynasty.
PBT: After it looked like Paul George's heroics would sink the Heat in Game 1, LeBron James stunned Indiana with a layup as time expired to lift Miami in OT.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Kerr: LeBron vs. Jordan comes down to rings
DPS: Steve Kerr joins Dan Patrick to discuss the Eastern Conference finals and the recent comparison between LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
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