Dallas is having its biggest sports buzz in 10.5 years -- since the Cowboys last played in (and won, unfortunately) the Super Bowl. The reason is simple: the Mavericks made the NBA Finals for the first time ever.
Understand that the Mavericks are the second team in this 1.5-sport town (Cowboys, Cowboys, Cowboys). In 1996, the city showed some excitement as the Rangers hit the playoffs for the first time ever, but that hope waned quickly when the team turned what should have been a first round sweep of my Yanks into a 3-1 series loss by honking late leads in games 2 and 3. In '98, the Rangers only hoped they could beat the 114-48 Yanks; in '99 they vowed they would not be humiliated like in '98 (so much for that).
The Stars were the best team in the city from the late '90s through the turn of the millenium. They won a Stanley Cup and lost in the Finals the next season. But as one local writer noted, the Mavs' TV ratings were three times higher than the Stars' ratings in the mid-late '90s when the Stars were good (or very good) and the Mavs stunk. Stars games are see-and-be-seen events for the cocaine-and-boobjob crowd, Mavs fans are a bit more rabid.
So there's a great deal of excitement in Dallas this week, after the Mavs vanquished their nemesis from last year (the Suns) on the heels of vanquishing their long-time nemesis, the Spurs. The Monk attended a business function Saturday night where Monkfirm set up a screen to watch the game at dinner. First, the big boss spoke and when he finished, they put on the game to a universal "ugggggggggggggggggh" with the Mavs down 15 in the second quarter. About 75+ minutes later the cheering began as the Mavs came back to tie the game and take a lead in the fourth. The rest is history.
The Monk is unfortunately a lifelong Knicks fan -- which means that two of my four pro teams are being run into the ground (Islanders) thanks to some clueless buggers with too much money who use the teams as their own fantasy league squads. But I like the Mavs because they are one of the few NBA teams I actually can watch play and not cringe. Unlike Detroit, Miami and so many other teams, the Mavs have a good offense, play team basketball instead of a series of two-man games and play solid defense without the thuggery that started in Detroit in the late '80s and metastisized with the 1990s Knicks that Pat Riley coached. Plus, The Monk likes Avery Johnson as a person and a hard-driving head coach. Local or not, I'd cheer on the Mavs.
So here's to the Mavs for reaching the NBA Finals. With their quickness, ability and five guys who can hit 25+ on a given night (Nowitzki, Howard, Terry, Stackhouse, Harris), they should be favored and should win. The Monk's hoping that happens.