With the Mavericks having one of the best win-loss records in the past decade, several rivalries began or heated up including the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs. However, one of the powerhouses of the decade, the Lakers, never seemed to be integrated into rivalry games. When the Lakers and Mavericks were going head to head in the mid to late 80's, it seemed the teams were developing a true hatred of each other, especially after the 1988 NBA Western Conference Finals, with the Mavs falling in 7. However, the dramatic fall from contender to bottom feeder in the early 90's ended the intense passion against certain teams held by fans; it was replaced by the hope for a successful rebuild.
Fast forward to 2010, by which time the Lakers have won several titles to the Mavs' lack of success in winning the championship. As a Mavericks fan living in the backyard of the Lakers, the taunts and jeers came every day, especially if I wore anything Mavs-related. Almost all Laker fans saw no rivalry, or even a need of a rivalry between two of the NBA's best teams in the past twelve years. This all changed in the 2011 NBA playoffs.
I still remember all the fans that I knew were saying "The Mavericks will get swept!" or "The Mavs can't win at Staples". Even the experts at Yahoo and ESPN agreed with this, with most predicting the Mavs losing in either four or five games. I started to watch game one, and my family started with the teasing after the Mavericks fell behind by 16 in the third quarter. I was shocked when Dirk put in a three to cap an amazing run by Dallas to catch up, and ultimately steal, game one from the Lakers.
Most fans were then saying "The Mavs got lucky there, don't expect another win". Again, Dirk & Co. came in. I was expecting a loss, but was utterly amazed by how they handled the Lakers in a double digit win. The Lakers seemed so desperate that Ron Artest took a cheap shot at J.J Barea. It seemed the Lakers were unable to find an answer in how to handle Dirk, and I knew that if the Mavericks kept their lights-out shooting and plays, the road to the NBA Finals would be wide open.
The Lakers fans I talked to, still refusing to accept any resemblance of a rivalry, were still stroking their ego in saying "Lakers will comeback". I pointed out that Dirk is unstoppable and we will beat the Lakers soon. That night, it first seemed that Kobe would take over for a Laker win. Once again, Dirk came in with three-pointers, and even a lefty hook, to ensure a 3-0 lead.
At this point, the fans and experts seemed to give up, and the Lakers played the same way. Even Mark Cuban ordered no brooms to be allowed into the arena. With this crucial game necessary to stay alive, the Lakers were down by more than twenty points by halftime, and the Mavericks brought in the bench, sensing victory. Jason Terry led the way with more than thirty points, and Peja Stojakovic made all of his three point attempts. However, the Lakers had some last minute gifts before departing, including Odom whacking Dirk and Bymun taking down Barea in the air. The post game reaction here at MMB was so great, the thread was made all-green.
These last two hits infuriated me so much but not to the point of breaking my TV remote. Even if the Laker fans I know will not acknowledge games between us as a rivalry, it will always be a rivalry here. With our opening game at Los Angeles, the Mavs have to win, to deflate the championship smoke that has risen with their new players, Nash and Howard. The Lakers are the worst enemy to me out West, and will always be.