An exterior view of the American Airlines Arena before the start Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks on May 30, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
From the time Michael Jordan retired -- the second time, not the first or third time -- the NBA has been pretty low on my sports-interest totem pole. My biggest interest in the sport since Jordan came, ironically, in the 2006 Finals (was a big Dwyane Wade fan after what he accomplished at Marquette) when the Miami Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks in six games. I also had some interest last year when Kobe Bryant was aiming for his fifth title. So, to say I am a front-runner when it comes to professional basketball would be accurate.
This season was no different. Last summer, "The Decision" helped enhance my disinterest in the NBA, and as soon as the college football and basketball seasons began the only way I kept up with pro basketball came from reading Bill Simmons articles and listening to the Dan Patrick radio show.
However, like most sports junkies I tune in for the big events. This year, I regained interest in the NBA during the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. As the games got better, I made sure those I talk sports too were informed that the NBA had something great brewing.
From a guy who has seen a lot of basketball, it was clear earlier in both conference series that Miami and Dallas were the superior teams. I thought it was also clear that Miami was, obviously, the most talented squad of the bunch. However, I liked the makeup of the Mavs and if the *odds were in my betting favor (+200 or better) I'd place a nice chunk of change (if I had any) on Dallas taking the series.
(*According to Simmons, the Mavs were +450 to win in six games. I would have taken that bet without hesitation.)
For Dallas the NBA Finals have shown a few things: A) its star player, Dirk Nowitzki, has taken his game to legendary status and is the most entertaining player to watch; B) fans are rooting for Jason Kidd to win a title (owner Mark Cuban, too); and C) the Mavs are showing the NBA world (even though a lot of people already know this) that team chemistry is a big part of winning championships.
For Miami the NBA Finals are showing: A) D-Wade is still very, very good, but not great; B) Lebron James is the younger brother who has all the talent in the world, but doesn't seem to have the same mental focus as his older brothers (I guess, Lebron's mom should have had more kids); and C) one more loss, means the biggest and longest post-championship breakdown (mainly from ESPN) is about to take place. (You thought "The Decision" was bad. Just wait until Miami loses Game 6 or 7.)
However, a Heat victory in Game 6 means Game 7 will be played on Tuesday night, and if you're a sports fan not watching now, you will be two days from now because Miami, who was given the championship last June, will be trying to break the hearts of America's team (Dallas). Not since Jordan have I been more excited to watch the NBA Finals, and I am sure a lot of sports fans feel the same way.