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DALLAS It is a day of celebration 31 years in the making. The Dallas Mavericks have returned home as world champions.

Just hours after defeating the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Mavs were met by a sea of fans at Dallas Love Field Monday morning, waiting for a glimpse of their favorite players and that storied trophy.

The Mavs' jet was welcomed with a traditional water cannon salute as it taxied to a stop.

Team owner Mark Cuban was first off the plane, proudly holding the NBA trophy aloft to cheers and screaming.

Police on foot and on horseback were spread out for crowd control. Several fans were overcome by the heat.

As the golden trophy made its way down a chain link fence for fans on the other side to see, some even got to touch of this symbol of greatness.

It was amazing, said Chris Smith. We finally got a trophy!

The excitement was multiplied when Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and other players came up to the fence to offer thanks for fan support over the years... and the fans gave the love right back.

With his MVP trophy in hand, Nowitzki walked the length of the fence, giving high-fives through the wire mesh.

Gino Martinez summed it up this way: It was well worth it to come here and say, 'Welcome home, champions!'

When Nowitzki finally got in his car to go home, he gave fans one more shout-out by popping out through the sunroof.

E-mail sslater@wfaa.com

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