DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki took the microphone last.
"Merry Christmas, everybody," he said. "I want to thank you guys for coming out today and celebrating this special, special day for all of us. You guys made this ride special. You guys have been through a lot of disappointments with the team over my 13 years. You made it possible."
With those words, the black tarp came off a banner reading "2011 NBA Champions." The Larry O'Brien Trophy formed the background, with the Mavericks' logo superimposed and the last names of every member of last season's final roster forming the border.
As it began its slow ascent into the American Airlines Center rafters above the court, the sellout Christmas Day crowd roared. Actually, they never stopped during the 10-minute presentation that included owner Mark Cuban, coach Rick Carlisle, Jason Terry and NBA commissioner David Stern addressing the title-starved fans.
"Thirty-one years," Terry bellowed. "You waited 31 years."
The Mavericks joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1980.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat left the floor before the festivities started and stayed in the locker room until pregame introductions.
They missed a video review of each round of the Mavs' historic playoff run.
Carlisle also made it a point to personally thank the six members of the title team no longer with the Mavs. The loudest cheers were reserved for J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler.
The returning players were then introduced, with Nowitzki saved for last. An "M-V-P" serenade took over the building.
Rotation in flux
Rick Carlisle used 11 players in the first quarter alone. Vince Carter was the only one of the newcomers to start. Lamar Odom, Delonte West and Brendan Wright came off the bench.
It's obvious Carlisle is going to use the first few weeks of the season, and possibly more, settling in on combinations and player roles.
"I'd love to have a rotation that everyone is comfortable with and feeling their rhythm," he said. "We'll look forward to getting to that."
The matador defense the Mavs displayed Sunday was unrecognizable by guard Jason Terry.
"Defensively, we weren't there and we weren't aggressive and that's not how we play," Terry said. "You can't give up 30 points in a quarter and think you're going to do something, let alone three [quarters]."
The Mavs' worst home-opening loss was to Utah, 90-70, on Feb. 2, 1999 -- the last lockout season.
The Mavs have sold out 400 consecutive regular-season games, the longest sellout streak in the NBA.
Miami ended a nine-game regular-season losing streak to the Mavs in Dallas.
Staff writer Dwain Price contributed to this report.