Dave Barry

Miami wins! Now we can go shopping

(This Dave Barry column was originally published June 8, 2006.)

So the NBA playoffs come down to this: Miami vs. Dallas. Tonight they begin a series that will determine which city is the winner and which city has many residents who are not cowboys but wear cowboy hats anyway, often in urban environments where they look ridiculous.

Only time will tell.

For now we should all salute both of these fine cities, which have so many reasons to be proud. Miami, of course, has its spectacular natural beauty, its exploding cultural scene, its vibrant nightlife, its sizzling Latin-Caribbean energy, its booming economy. Dallas, for its part, has a total of five Neiman Marcuses. Miami is the departure point for cruise ships sailing to some of the world's greatest great vacation ports; Dallas is often called the "Gateway to Fort Worth."

Both cities attract millions of visitors each year. They come to Miami to swim, dive, fish, boat, golf, shop, dine, enjoy the exciting club scene or simply "kick back" on the beach. They go to Dallas mainly to change planes, which at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport can also be very exciting, as you know if you've ever attempted to get from gate B-36 to gate C-39 (a distance of eight miles) in time to make your connecting flight, which leaves in 13 minutes.

I'm not saying that these two cities are unblemished paradises. Both have drawbacks: Miami is vulnerable to hurricanes, whereas Dallas is completely surrounded by Texas. But overall, they are fine places, and it's a shame that the NBA championship can't be awarded to both the Miami Heat and the Dallas Cows.

But it can't. One team (Miami) must win. So let's take an objective look at how the two teams match up for the championship series:

* Billionaire owners: Each team has one. The Heat's billionaire is Micky Arison, a quiet, dignified man who pretty much stays out of the limelight, preferring to let the actual basketball players get the attention. The Cows' billionaire is Mark Cuban, who takes a somewhat different approach, which is to do everything possible to make sure that nobody ever, for one second, forgets that he is a billionaire NBA owner. Here's what Mark's team's official website has to say about Mark:

"When Mark Cuban purchased the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 14, 2000, the face of the organization began to change immediately. Cuban was not only successful at instilling a sense of pride and passion into Mavericks fans by presenting himself as the ultimate role model by cheering from the same seats he had in years past, but he also became the first owner in team sports to encourage fan interaction through e-mail on his personal computer. It was through this personal touch that fans throughout the Metroplex, and around the world, began to notice Cuban's energetic personality and take notice of the Mavericks. Cuban's whatever-it-takes attitude and commitment to winning has everyone's attention."

That's right: Everyone pays attention to Mark, thanks to his energetic personality! Recently, in his capacity as ultimate role model, Mark went on to the court after a playoff game to berate the officials. He was fined $200,000, but that was no problem for Mark, because he's a billionaire! Who owns an NBA team! Did I mention that already? Well it's true! Whenever he wants, Mark can go on to the court or hang around with the players and enjoy the aroma wafting from their athletic supporters.

So I have to give the edge, in the owner department, to: Micky. Now let's move on to another important matchup:

* Players: Here I again have to, in all objectivity, give the edge to the Heat. Our players are a group of plucky fellows, led by the veteran Shaquille O'Neal, who, at age 52, is still going strong, despite the fact that many of his free-throw attempts wind up on other planets. Also he is constantly being whistled for fouls that are not his fault. They are the fault of gravity. Because of his large mass, Shaquille creates a powerful force field that causes smaller objects - toasters, motorcycles, opposing centers - to be sucked into his orbit and slam into his body, as Shaquille watches helplessly. Incredibly, the referees often blame Shaquille for this, which is an outrage, but Micky has far too much class to complain.

The final element in the Heat-Cows matchup is:

* Fans: Here the contest is closer. Both teams fill their arenas with enthusiastic fans from all walks of life, except of course those walks that can't afford to pay upward of $500 per seat to watch a basketball game. Usually Miami has the edge in the number of female fans sporting large and flagrantly artificial upthrusting bazoomage, but Dallas also is very strong in this department. The only real difference between the two crowds is that Dallas fans are led by the ultimate role model, cheering from the same seats. So I have no choice but to give the edge to: Miami.

In conclusion, Miami should win the series. I understand that my analysis could be faulty, and that I may get some criticism from Dallas fans. ("You moron! We have six Neiman Marcuses!") I apologize in advance if I have offended anybody. I'm merely expressing my opinion; obviously, the question of which is the better team, and the winning city, will be decided on the court.

Unless the refs steal it from us.

(c) 2006 Dave Barry

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