- Associated Press - Thursday, June 16, 2011

DALLAS (AP) - 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.

More than 250,000 people were expected on a hot morning, with everyone staking out spots hours before the parade’s scheduled 10 a.m. start. 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.

In a waiting area at the start of the parade, Cuban clutched the championship trophy as entertainer Jamie Foxx, who is from the Dallas area, joined the fun. Most wore T-shirts that read, “Raise the Banner,” and other championship gear. Cuban tweeted several pictures from the holding area.

“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 featured three floats, 10 convertibles and a dozen trucks. It started a few minutes late and was to go less than a mile, ending near the team’s arena, where a bash was planned for 10,000 season-ticket holders. Police closed the plaza outside the building hours before the parade after it reached its capacity of 3,000 people.

Those inside were treated to a replay of the championship-clinching victory over LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Sunday.

Temperatures were in the mid-80s at the start of the parade and a high of around 100 was in the forecast, according to the National Weather Service. There were several reports of fans overcome by heat before the parade even began.


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

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