MFFLs, meet your nemesis.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike the Nuggets, not the least of which is the fact that they are, at the moment, very good at basketball. Typically in these series, heroes and villains emerge ubiquitously; heroes, for obvious reasons, and villains because it’s impossible to watch a seven-game series involving your hometown team and not come away with a sense of strong resentment towards at least one player on the opposing squad.
Back when the Kings were worth talking about, it was Vlade Divac, or maybe Doug Christie. With the Phoenix Suns, it was Tim Thomas, who taunted, and was quickly beaten by, Dirk Nowitzki in 2006. It’s no wonder he was shipped to the Clippers just after that series.
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And as we move to the Western Conference semifinals, the early favorite for the new most hated man in Dallas is clear; his name is J.R. Smith.
Smith already has some dubious history with Dallas, Mark Cuban and Antoine Wright in particular.
In the teams’ Jan. 13 meeting, Smith threw an elbow at Wright that was, apparently, missed by officials. Cuban took issue, and ran on the court to discuss the situation with Smith as the teams went into the locker room at half. What follows is a lesson in becoming the most hated man in the ninth largest city in America.
After the game, Smith sent a signed pair of shoes to the owner; Cuban sent the shoes back, instructing him to sell them if he could.
Then, on March 27, Cuban, Wright and Smith had yet another run-in; after Denver beat the Mavericks 103-101, Smith came off the bench to taunt Wright, who was on the ground. The officials, for whatever reason, held their whistles; Cuban did not hold his tongue, though, and voiced his displeasure through Twitter, precipitating a (kind of ridiculous) $25, 000 fine.
Now, with Dallas and Denver poised to clash in the conference semifinals, the rivalry seems poised for a rebirth.
In an article by the Denver Post, Smith made his feelings concerning Cuban overtly clear.
“I'm not a big fan of his and I think everybody knows that," said Smith. "He's just another thing we have to get by on the way to the championship."
Some have read these remarks as a sign that the feud will remain quiet; I’m not so convinced.
Neither Cuban or Smith are particularly adept at holding their tongues, particularly, it would seem, in the ultra-emotional atmosphere of the playoffs. Smith is a talented shooting guard that’s not afraid to tell you about it.
Cuban is an uber-involved owner that will stop at nothing to make his voice heard where his players are concerned.
Basically, these two seem bound to clash.
Dallas and Denver will open their series on Sunday night; by Monday morning, the city of Dallas just might have a brand new nemesis.
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