On Sept. 14, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump gave a speech to a near-capacity crowd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. I was lucky enough to get press access to the event. (I did not.) With The Donald in town, I knew there were plenty of pressing questions that I needed to ask him. At the time, he was just beginning to roll out his plans to reform the tax code. That's not what interested me, though. No, I was there for one reason. I wanted to know how he thinks the Dallas Mavericks will stack up against the Pacific Division. Luckily, I was able to snag a quick interview with Mr. Trump before he took the stage. (This did not happen.) Here's what he had to say. (This interview is fictitious.)
What are the games you're most looking forward to?
Wow, it's so exciting. You know, people don't know this about me but I really enjoy basketball. No really. I really do. But when the Mavs face their opponents -- can we call them opponents? Let's call them opponents -- in the Pacific ... well, we got everybody in the Pacific. Everyone is out there.
But no, really. You know who's a great guy? Kobe Bryant. He really is. You know why? Because he's a winner. He's not a loser. He doesn't play to lose. He plays to win. The Lakers win. Maybe not recently, but traditionally, they win. It's that simple. I know Jeanie Buss. She's great. She really is. But Kobe versus Dirk. What more do you want? The Mavericks play the Lakers at Staples Center on Nov. 1. L.A. is a great town. It's no Dallas. But it's a great town. Look for the celebrities. They're everywhere! I might be there. I'm a celebrity!
You know who else I like? The Warriors. They're winners. They just won! And Joe Lacob. What a great guy. He's made a lot of money because he knows business. You know what else he knows? He knows when to replace his head coach. Look what happened! Oh, and Stephen Curry. Can you believe this guy? Amazing! They say he can hit threes from outside the arena. It's probably true. I love this guy. And his daughter! She's fantastic! The Warriors play in Dallas at this beautiful arena Dec. 30. Make it a late Christmas gift to yourself. Go.
Back to L.A., though. Did I mention that I love L.A.? Love it. The people, the cars, the sun. You name it. It's great. But there's one thing I don't like. Can you believe that I don't like something about L.A.? It's true. It's that other team. Hardly a team. The Clippers. Can you believe these guys? What a joke! And DeAndre Jordan. Whoa. I shouldn't say this. I really shouldn't. But he's terrible. Terrible. Can you believe what would happen to me if I pulled out of a deal like that? And Chris Paul wasn't at their first meeting? He was on a vacation? What kind of organization are they running? They're a disaster. And Doc Rivers. That's not a leader. He's not a leader. And then you have Steve Ballmer sweating on TV? That's not a team. Anyway, the Mavs play them in L.A. on Oct. 29. I hope it's good. I want it to be.
How has the Pacific Division changed since last season?
I shouldn't keep saying this but the Clippers are a disaster. Look at their bench. Terrible. Last year it was bad. This year it's bad. Paul Pierce? Lance Stephenson? Give me a break! Josh Smith. Can these guys actually make shots? Pierce looks older than me. It's a joke. Does anyone even know who Wesley Johnson is? Of course they don't. He's low energy. Like Jeb Bush.
You know Rajon Rondo? Of course you do. Great guy. No really. A little quiet, but he's a good guy. He's on the Kings now. Can you believe that? And this Kosta Koufos guy? Is he good? I know he's good. He's there too.
I know you don't want me to say this. I know you don't. Tyson Chandler is on the Suns. I know. It hurts. It would hurt me. You had him. You lost him. That's life. You more on, OK. I've had deals like this. Believe me I've had deals like this. Huge deals. Then poof. It happens. It doesn't happen to me much. I win deals. That's what I do.
So, the Lakers. The Lakers. I hold you how much I like the Lakers? I love the Lakers. They're great. I love the Knicks, too. They have Carmelo and Kristaps. I love the Knicks. But the Lakers, they might surprise you. Why? I love Kobe. He a winner. And now Julius Randle is healthy. And they have Roy Hibbert. He's the best defender. He really is. And D'Angelo Russell. Have you seen him? Wow.
What's that? The Warriors? They'll be fine. They won. They're going to keep winning. That's what they do.
What is the Mavericks' biggest challenge against the Pacific Division?
Wow. I like Mark Cuban. He's a nice guy. He called me up the other day and said I could use the arena for my speech. It's a beautiful arena. But can you believe that just a few days ago he calls me up and says I can use the arena? Phenomenal guy. But Mark had a tough summer. He's not leading in the polls like me. Have you seen the polls? The media says Ben Carson is surging. Can you believe that? Surging? I'm leading.
Anyway, Mark's tough summer. It wasn't great. It showed that a lot of people are smarter than him. The Mavericks look like the dumping ground of the NBA. And I like Mark. Great guy. But it doesn't look good. The Mavs' biggest challenge is that they're Ben Carson. He's a nice guy. But he's not leading the polls. I am. I'm leading. That's what the top of the Pacific looks like. They look like leaders. Not the Clippers. The Warriors. They're leaders. They win. They're like me. The Mavericks aren't like me. That's their biggest challenge.
What do you think is the Pacific Division's biggest challenge when they face the Mavericks?
Dirk. I love him. He's one of my favorite players. One of my favorite. And the Mavericks have been fantastic. It's just a great team.*
Which game against the Clippers will be craziest and why?
Are you kidding me? First, the Clippers are losers. They're a good team but their losers. When has Chris Paul ever been past the second round? Think about it. Never. But crazy? It'll be the March 7 game here in Dallas. Why? It's late season. Maybe both teams are healthy. I hope they're healthy. With the playoffs are around the corner, anything can happen. Really. This city really doesn't like DeAndre. Here's the opportunity to do something about it. Make the Mavericks great again.
* * *
Before I could get another question in, Trump had to hit the stage. He turned to enter the arena as "You're the Best Around" by Joe Esposito played throughout the AAC speakers. It was surreal.
*Trump actually said all of that during his speech in Dallas. That part is real.