SALT LAKE CITY — With the Dallas Mavericks up 3-2 in the NBA Finals, an upset is in the making, and a lot of people couldn't be happier.
They love that the unpretentious Mavericks have been slapping around the Heat. They delight in the prospect of Dallas beating the so-called "super team." They love it because LeBron Inc. isn't as invincible as everyone thought.
Consequently, millions adore the Mavericks. It's true they play hard. They have an outside-the-box superstar. Their coach is ever so earnest. But I'm guessing people mostly love the Mavs because they're not the Heat. Why else would anyone north of the Red River (or west of Germany) care?
Let's be honest, Texans are hard to like. All that bragging. And all those men wearing boots with suits. Granted, the Mavericks didn't build their team the way the Heat did, superstars choosing up sides. But they would have if they could. Their owner is Internet billionaire Mark Cuban. He'd buy Denmark if he thought it would help him win. At one time he had twice as many coaches as anyone in the league.
He's a billionaire who shows up in jeans and a T-shirt and pumps his fists like a college kid, bickering with opponents and officials. He has been fined over $1 million by the league for comments deemed detrimental.
If that's likable, then call me Sandra Bullock.
Yet he builds the best arena with the best facilities. His locker room looks like a presidential suite: Leather recliners at the lockers, built-in audio-visual systems, lots of HD TV's. The place seems more like a country club than a locker room.
The team even owns its own 757 jet.
People are cheering against the Heat because Miami has been able to buy itself a shot at a championship. But an AOL News analysis a year ago showed that only the Los Angeles Lakers ($21.42 million), paid more luxury tax than the Mavericks ($17.79 million). Only the Lakers ($91,645,875) had a higher payroll than the Mavericks ($90,745,633) this season.
So why is everyone cheering for Dallas? That's like rooting for the insurance firms against the credit card companies.
You know the Mavericks, of course. They're the team with the big German. While it's true Dirk Nowitzki is a phenomenal player, since when did seven-foot white players become fashionable? Did Greg Ostertag miss the audition?
The Mavericks have four players who have eight-figure salaries and by 2013, Nowitzki will be making $23 million.
People are cheering for that?
Dallas has DeShawn Stevenson, who once got suspended by Jerry Sloan for his profane rant during practice. He is also the guy who pleaded no contest to having sex with a 14-year-old when he was 20.
The night Stevenson was drafted, he got in a brawl that involved police.
I won't even elaborate on that Abraham Lincoln tattoo on his larynx.
Dallas also has Jason Kidd, whose nasty divorce included charges of domestic abuse and infidelity (he was once fined $200 and ordered to take anger management classes after pleading guilty to spousal abuse). That's not unusual in pro sports, but it doesn't make him easy to cheer.
Nowitzki made news a couple of years ago when a woman said to be his fiancee and/or girlfriend was taken into custody on two outstanding warrants, one for a probation violation and the other a theft of service. She claimed to be pregnant with his child but wasn't. Reports said she had a considerable history with the law and eight aliases.
That certainly wasn't Nowitzki's fault, but it didn't say much for his judgment.
So that's where it stands, two teams playing for the championship and really, is there anyone here to love? One team has mega-stars who think they're heaven's gift to basketball. The other has an owner with more money than than heaven could ever imagine.
Mavericks lead series 3-2
Game 1: Miami 92, Dallas 84
Game 2: Dallas 95, Miami 93
Game 3: Miami 88, Dallas 86
Game 4: Dallas 83, Miami 80
Game 5: Dallas 112, Miami 103
Today: Dallas at Miami, 6 p.m.
x-Tuesday: Dallas at Miami, 7 p.m.
x- if necessary