NBA fan not attracted to any of the Calif. poles

    I’m as excited as anybody to see a Lakers-Kings rematch of last year’s classic showdown. It’s too bad the NBA doesn’t have a fifth-place game.

    This campus seems to be polarized into two different sects. The one from the north that bleeds black and purple, thinks Vlade’s flops are genuine and believes that the Kings have a hella good chance of winning it all this year. The other tribe is from the south. A band of loyalists and bandwagoners alike who live and die by Kobe’s jumper, think the Lakers deserve all the calls they get and don’t find it odd that Jack Nicholson wears sunglasses indoors. And then there’s me.

    I grew up in the Bay Area, in a city named Santa Clara, where a respectable Jesuit university sits about 10 blocks from my house.

    Growing up a Warriors fan in the days of Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway, I gained an appreciation for the NBA, though it was never my first love. A few years of following the Warriors is enough for anyone though. Bad draft picks, poor leadership and a string of bad apples including Latrell Sprewell, Joe Smith and Chris Webber left me sympathetic to the cause, but in search of a new team.

    At about that time, a young Canadian point guard who I’d watched at Santa Clara University was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks also changed ownership — going into the hands of a renegade billionaire who runs his businesses like they are games he plans to win. Around the same time, a seven-foot tall German who prefers the perimeter to the post landed in Dallas as well. With the convergence of Steve Nash, Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki, a revolutionary brand of basketball was born, and I found my team.

    Now that they’re winning, I realize you’re going to doubt my genuineness, but I love the Mavs for the way they play, win or lose.

    It’s a mindset that defense is merely the way to start the fast break, and that every shot is makeable. It’s basketball in the 120s every night, a pace that never slows down, and this year, it’s the best brand of basketball out there.

    Sorry, Kings fans. I apologize, Lakers fans. The road to the finals goes through Texas this season.

    The Lakers are fatally flawed. There’s no Zen magic there, just two superstars and a couple of role players. With injuries to Rick Fox and Devean George, the cast of role players has shrunk to a dangerous level. There’s no magic left. The Lakers are a tired bunch that was pushed to the limit by a mediocre Minnesota team, and anybody that lets Bruce Bowen light them up is no championship contender.

    The Kings’ best chance against the Mavericks was Chris Webber. With him out, Sacramento simply can’t outscore the Mavs enough times to win the series. Peja is the only big-time scoring threat left, and he’s not dominant enough to carry a team. The Kings have little-to-no low post presence with Floppy Divac and overrated Keon Clark as their best options.

    Maybe San Antonio can beat the Mavs. Maybe whoever comes out of the East will put up a fight. But maybe Nick “”I’ve never met a shot I didn’t like”” Van Exel, Steve “”My hair goes one way, I go the other”” Nash, Dirk “”I can shoot over anybody”” Nowitzki and Michael “”Don’t forget about me”” Finley can pull it off.

    I might be wrong, but like my team, being defensive isn’t my style. Don’t despair though, Kings and Lakers fans. An NBA championship ring will probably find its way to California this year. As long as Steve Nash plans on visiting his alma mater, that is.

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