New York's Rooting Guide to the NBA Finals

It isn't easy to choose between the Heat and the Mavericks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    What's a Knicks fan to do?

    Thanks to the NBA's desire to make the NBA playoffs last longer than the NBA regular season, we will have to wait until Tuesday to see the start of the Finals between the Heat and the Mavericks.

    That seems like an awfully long time to take off, although we're sure everyone has plenty of things to keep them occupied over the holiday weekend. Cookouts, cocktail parties, disappointing sequels and, should you absolutely need to make basketball part of your life, extra time to figure out which team you'll be rooting for.

    On the surface it seems like an easy question to answer. Root for the Mavericks, obviously, because they represent all that is light and right against the black hearts and cold souls that inhabit the uniforms of the Miami Heat.

    It is a compelling argument made all the more difficult to contradict every time LeBron James and Dwyane Wade preen after baskets or whine about being disliked. Rooting for the Heat is like rooting for the Empire in the "Star Wars" films, right down to the hordes of white-clad drones that fill their home games.

    Yankees fans should be careful about making a big deal about the ugliness of the way the Heat were constructed, however. It's a blueprint all too familiar to the team in the Bronx and it is actually kinda surprising that Alex Rodriguez didn't come up with the idea for "The Decision" before James and ESPN shamed themselves with it on national TV last summer. 

    Luckily, the Mavericks have enough going for them to come up with alternate explanations for rooting against the Heat. Dirk Nowitzki's playoff run has been wonderful to watch and it has provided everyone with a chance to truly appreciate how superlative a career he's authored while others have hogged the spotlight at his expense.

    What's more, players like Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion give the Mavericks a nice overall narrative of a team full of guys that have paid their dues for a title. That's far nicer than a team that was cynically created for the task.

    All this may leave you asking who could possibly be rooting for the Heat outside of Nike and agents across the league? Knicks fans might want to think about it.

    It doesn't sound right, does it? Knicks fans rooting for Pat Riley and James seems wrong, but there's a method behind this madness.

    There would be something reassuring about seeing a team built on the model of star collection succeeding so quickly because it would make it easier to believe the Knicks are doing the right thing. It may be that championship teams in the NBA are no longer built from scratch but simply assembled on a shopping spree. 

    Winning more quickly than expected might also accelerate other parts of the Heat life cycle. The conventional wisdom was that they wouldn't be able to win with their sad little supporting cast this season, but that they would soon get up to speed and hold up the rest of the league for a few seasons.

    If they win now, though, maybe that means they will be closer to the inevitable moment when James and Wade realize that they don't want to share the stage with another huge star because it leaves them looking like a lesser player than any other great in the history of the NBA. The sooner that day comes, the sooner there will be a chance for the Knicks to clamber up onto the stage and bask in a little bit of glory.

    Laugh if you want, but it is just as likely as any other scenario that ends with the Knicks celebrating an actual title.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.