For Dirk Nowitzki, the only thing that could come close to being an NBA champion for the first time was celebrating it with the fans in Dallas.
An expected crowd of 250,000 crammed downtown Thursday morning for a parade in the team's honor, with another 20,000 or so filling the arena for a rally filled with emotional moments.
After waiting 31 years for a title, fans honored it in a way that many said was worth the wait.
After the parade and before the rally, Nowitzki and his teammates went to the balcony of the arena and spoke briefly to the crowd. Nowitzki capped it by leading a rousing rendition of their new favorite song, We Are The Champions .
This day had two other emotional crescendos for Nowitzki.
The first came when coach Rick Carlisle said, "You're looking at the best basketball team on the planet. It's also very clear we have in our presence the greatest basketball player on the planet." The overhead jumbo board showed a close-up shot of Nowitzki wiping his eyes.
Then, when it was Nowitzki's turn to speak, he was overcome by emotion.
"It's been an amazing ride, an amazing journey," Nowitzki said. "It's been a lot of ups and a lot of downs. This is the top of the iceberg. It feels absolutely amazing."