By DOUGLAS PILS
Rivalries have a tendency to skew one’s perception of reality or, at worst, make viewing another reality incomprehensible.
The best example going right now — outside of the political arena’s constant state of being — is among Texas NBA fans.
Spurs fans, those who bleed silver and black and nothing else, are in full riot mode over the Dallas Mavericks being in the NBA Finals. You could hear the city’s laughter building on Thursday before the Mavs evened the series with a mad fourth-quarter rush in Miami.
As if he needed the answers, SpursNation.com writer Tim Griffin asked and found reasons for fans’ disdain last week.
“The hatred is because of the rivalry and the fact that they have a classless owner and loud mouth peanut sixth man,” wrote someone calling himself “rperez_jr.”
It’s not hard to realize he’s talking about Mark Cuban and Jason Terry.
In a 2006 playoff series won by Dallas, the duo forever made themselves enemies of Alamo City by saying bad things about the River Walk and with a short punch to Michael Finley’s groin.
It doesn’t matter that a few months later, the city did find zoo feces in that river or that Finley and Manu Ginobili had jumped on top of Terry.
Never mind that had it been Terry and some other Maverick on top of Finley, and it was Finley doing the punching, Spurs fans would see a folk hero instead of a villain.
And it makes no difference that Cuban has been a model citizen during these playoffs, even if he’s had to be quiet to do so.
The perception won’t change.
Generally, Texans band together when faced with outside aggression — see the Alamo, Civil War and any state saying it has better high school football or barbeque. If something shines a positive light on the state, it doesn’t take much to get behind it.
Even Longhorns and Aggies can admit that things are better for both, and the conference they play in, when both find themselves ranked. It didn’t do AM much good to say it beat a 5-7 Texas football team last year, just as the Aggies didn’t do the Longhorns many strength-of-schedule favors from 2000-09 by averaging six wins a season.
Fact is, the Spurs and Mavericks have a lot in common:
Playoff streak: Dallas is at 11, Spurs 14. No current team has more than eight.
50-win seasons: Dallas has 11 straight, Spurs have 12, which would be 14 if not for the 1998-99 lockout. Only the Lakers at 12 from 1980-91 have matched that.
Foreign influence: Mavs have four not counting Puerto Rico’s J.J. Barea. The Spurs have three not counting Tim Duncan of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Coincidence: The Spurs made their first Finals in the 26th season after moving from Dallas. Mavs made their first Finals in the 26th year of existence, losing in 2006 to Spurs fans’ delight.
Ah, but little of that matters in San Antonio. That leaves Spurs fans who hate Dallas left rooting for what one SpursNation.com reader calls the “anti-Spurs” because of the way the Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scream and preen after good plays.
Again, that’s perception. To Spurs fans, Ginobili has great expressions after big plays. You can bet others see screaming and preening.
If the Mavericks win, it means the great state of Texas has seven NBA titles in the past 18 years. If you’re counting and you care about telling Hollywood to stick it, that would be two more than California in that time.
And Spurs fans can still point to the imaginary scoreboard that would read: San Antonio 4, Dallas 1.
NBA players who have crossed over between Dallas and San Antonio since 2000:
Steve Novak: Seven games with Mavs and 23 with Spurs in 2010-11.
Michael Finley: Played nine seasons in Dallas, where he was a two-time All-Star, before spending 4 1/2 with Spurs.
Austin Croshere: Ended NBA career with three games here in 2008-09. Spent 2006-07 in Dallas.
Pops Mensah-Bonsu: Three games here in 2008-09; 12 in Dallas in 2006-07.
Kurt Thomas: Severe right ankle injury limited him to five games with Dallas in 1997-98. Played well with the Spurs from 2007-09.
Nick Van Exel: Backup point guard in 2005-06 played 100 games for the Mavs from 2002-03.
Mark Bryant: Spent 18 games in Dallas in 2000-01; 30 in S.A. the next season.
Cherokee Parks: Of his seven NBA stops, he had 64 games in Dallas as a rookie in 1995-96; 42 with Spurs in 2001-02.
Samaki Walker: No. 9 pick in 1996 spent three seasons in Dallas and the next two in S.A.
Ian Mahinmi: No. 28 pick in 2005 joined Mavs this season after 32 games in S.A.
Drew Gooden: Started 2009-10 with the Mavs; finished 2008-09 in S.A.
Matt Carroll: Three games in S.A. in 2004; 46 with Mavs in two seasons from 2009-10.
Kevin Willis: With Spurs from 2002-04. Came out of retirement and played five games for Dallas in 2007.
Avery Johnson: He got a start on his coaching career working with Don Nelson over 1 1/2 seasons from 2002-03.