Tuesday marks the beginning of one of the most anticipated NBA Finals matchups in recent memory. Miami vs. Dallas. The Heatles vs Dirk and The Boys. Pat Riley vs Mark Cuban. The Rematch Series (even though it’s really not much of a rematch considering how much the teams have changed since 2006).
Rarely are championship contenders as easily differentiated as the Heat and the Mavericks. They are complete opposites. Like tofu and steak.
Yes, the Lakers and Celtics had the whole bitter rivalry thing going on last season. But at their core they were more similar than they were different: two talented, versatile teams filled with veterans. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom against Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Pretty even, right?
The same can’t be said for Miami and Dallas. They are different in almost every discernible way, from the way their talent is distributed to the styles of their offenses to their general world views.
This makes it difficult to pick a favorite in this series (personally, I’m going with Dallas in 6) but easy to choose a team to root for. If you’re not from Miami or Dallas and have yet to decide on a rooting interest, here’s your guide to picking a side:
If you’re a fan of Disney, go with Dallas. Dirk and Co. have all the major components of a Disney movie: underdog pedigree, relentless work ethic, unstoppable will, unexpected success. They even pulled off the ultimate Disney turn-the-tides plot point by slaying the seemingly indomitable Lakers –the NBA equivalent of Aladdin jamming Jafar into a lamp or Simba tossing Scar to the hyenas.
As Bill Simmons said in a recent podcast, the Mavericks just feel like a team of destiny. If Disney were to pick one team at the beginning of the playoffs to build a feel good story around, it would be them, right? Toy Story, Aladdin, The Lion King, Dirk coming back to avenge the 2006 championship loss. You couldn’t invent a better storyline. It fits right in.
On the other hand, if you like Michael Bay, you should pick Miami. The Heat are loud, brash and flashy. They’re one Megan Fox short of a summer blockbuster.
Miami’s roster is a big budget director’s wet dream. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are your box office stars. They look good on the poster and sell tickets. Chris Bosh is the second rate star — think Josh Hartnett. And Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Joel Anthony are the bit players — the John Turturros. Throw in a few explosions and a half decent director (Erik Spoelstra) and you have a recipe for box office gold. Or, in this case, the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Mavericks have a goofy, unassuming superstar surrounded by a terrific ensemble cast. Naturally their musical counterpart is Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire. Like the Mavs, Arcade Fire go seven deep (13 if you count their touring band), and when it comes to funky white dudes, you’d be hard pressed a better match for Dirk Nowitzki than Win Butler. They even have the same understated sense of humor.
Of course, Dirk isn’t romantically involved with one of his teammates (Butler is married to band-mate Regine Chassagne), but otherwise the parallels are undeniable. Recently, Arcade Fire won a Grammy for album of the year, shocking the world. Can the Mavs do the same against the Heat in the Finals?
The Heat are a supergroup, a collection of rogue stars. There are supergroups in music, too, but none on the level of the Big Three (Velvet Revolver hardly counts), so I decided to create one: Justin Timberlake, Usher and Will.i.am. We’ll call them The Panty Droppers.
LeBron is Timberlake in this scenario, an all-around talent who has won his share of individual awards (two MVPs for LeBron, six Grammys for Timberlake) but never the big prize. Wade is Usher, the silky smooth co-superstar. And Bosh is Will.i.am, the guy who has talent but you’re not really sure why he’s there. Together they form an unstoppable, albeit pretty douchey, trio. Question is: would you root for them?
The Mavs are the best team, top to bottom, in the league. From Dirk Nowitzki to Jason Kidd to Tyson Chandler to Jason Terry to J.J. Barea, they’re loaded with talent. And I haven’t even mentioned Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood or DeShawn Stevenson yet. Naturally, they should be compared to a TV show that matches their depth.
For a long time, The Office was the best ensemble comedy on television. Then it was 30 Rock. Now it’s Parks and Rec. (I know what you’re thinking, what about Modern Family? Give P&R a second look. I guarantee you it’s better.) The combination of Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Rob Lowe is a wrecking ball of comedy — not to mention Chris Pratt, Rashida Jones and Adam Scott. Like the Mavs, the pieces work perfectly together on P&R, creating a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Both sneak up on you and win you over slowly like a girl that’s not super hot but attractive and likes to ski. You don’t know it yet, but trust me, you secretly like girls who like to ski.
The antithesis of Parks and Rec is a ham-fisted reality show loaded with stars, so the obvious TV choice for the Heat is Jersey Shore. The Situation, Pauly D and Snooki compare pretty well across the board with LeBron, Wade and Bosh. (Except I’m pretty sure Chris Bosh isn’t obsessed with pickles.) In fact, LBJ and Sitch are fellow nominees for the worst television performance of the year. LeBron for The Decision. The Situation for the most ill-advised guest roast in Comedy Central history. The difference? America seems to have forgiven Situation his debacle. It’ll never forgive LeBron.
The Jersey Shore crew filmed Season 2 in Miami, bringing the comparison full circle. The only remaining question is who plays the “gorilla juice head” in the Heat locker room? It’s definitely not Mike Bibby or Eddie House. Juwan Howard’s too old. I think his heart might stop. Udonis Haslem, maybe? Eh, screw it. Put Ronnie on the playoff roster and call it a night. “GTL after the game, Dwyane?” “You know it, LeBron. Cabs’re here!”
The Mavericks are from Texas. The Heat, Florida. Both states are typically Republican (heck, both have had a Bush as governor), but in recent years Florida has become more of a swing state. In the 2008 election, Florida voters favored Barack Obama (albeit by a slim margin), representing a shift in ideology. Besides, Miami is a melting pot of culture and the state’s unofficial party capital. If there’s a liberal-leaning city in Florida, it’s Miami.
The sides on this one are far from clearly drawn. My advice: don’t judge this one on politics. But if you’re bent on it, pick the Mavs if you lean right, the Heat if you lean left.
5) Beverage of choice
The Mavs are a sip and enjoy beverage. A beer. A good one. Personally, I like Blue Moon. It’s flavorful but also smooth and light. When you’re done, it doesn’t feel as though you’ve had a full course meal. Although I have had it mixed with Guinness one time and it was fantastic. The Mavericks are the same way. They’re not going to hammer you in the face with their game. They’re going to let you enjoy it slowly. That’s why they’re Blue Moon.
The Heat are more of a quick, bang, let’s get drunk team. In the beverage world, their comparison is a shot. And since they’re a team that focuses on three main stars, there is no better shot for them than the Three Wise Men: Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Johnny Walker. Like the Heat, it comes at you hard and fast. A pure shot of adrenaline. And when the dust settles, you better watch out. A whole lot of madness is going down.
Let’s go to the scorecard.
Okay, time to tally your votes. If you skipped ahead, I don’t blame you. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you with your final scorecard:
Mavericks – Disney, Arcade Fire, Parks and Rec, the GOP, Blue Moon
Heat – Michael Bay, The Panty Droppers, Jersey Shore, the Democratic Party, Three Wise Men
Chris Bosh – Josh Hartnett, Will.i.am, Snooki
Whew. Esteemed company you’re keeping there, CB4. (Do they still call him that? It has to be the worst nickname of all-time.)
Enjoy the Finals everybody.
Also See: Why most media member don’t deserve to praise LeBron if Heat win it allGoogle+