Lakers-Mavs! Oh, the possibilities
LOS ANGELES -- It's a matchup that's eluded basketball fans for a decade now, and with Phil Jackson already with one foot out the door this spring will be the last chance we'll get to see the Los Angeles Lakers versus the Dallas Mavericks in all of its circus-like glory.
Come on, basketball gods, don't mess this one up.
Thursday's 110-82 win by the Lakers won't be remembered for the high-level of play, but rather for the high-entertainment value.
"It does make for good TV," said Lamar Odom with a wink and a smile after the game, knowing that the film crew for his upcoming reality TV show on the E! Channel chose well by gathering footage for the "Khloe & Lamar" show with the Mavericks in town.
They'll want to keep rolling the next time these two teams meet.
Los Angeles currently leads Dallas by 1.5 games for the No. 2 seed in the West. If L.A. stays at two and Dallas stays at three, the two teams will meet in the second round of the playoffs should they both advance.
Wouldn't that be something?
The prelude to Thursday's game was another round of barb tossing between Jackson and Dallas owner Mark Cuban.
If you aren't familiar with the dance, this mismatched pair has been dancing since way back when Shaquille O'Neal still played for the Lakers and Steve Nash still played for the Mavericks. It goes something like this:
Mark tells reporters in Dallas he thinks when Ron Artest tries to dictate the offense for the Lakers it ends up being a good thing for the Mavs.
Then, reporters in L.A. tell Phil what Mark said the next day and Jackson comes up with the wittiest thing that comes to mind to burn Cuban.
(On Thursday it was: "I know that Mark likes to prick the skin of people. But he's not a player. He just sits behind the bench with his suntanned face and has to make comments like that. He's got nothing to do with it. I know that he's provided a great roster that's almost as good as money can buy. But not quite.")
We wouldn't have to wait a day in between responses if these two teams met for a playoff series. It would be one, giant, extended game of telephone with P.J. saying something about Cubes in his pregame remarks, followed by reporters scrambling to find Cuban for a response, or vice versa.
You could cut and paste all of Jackson and Cuban's quotes at the end of the series and put them on top of one another and create yourself a pretty contentious Gchat conversation.
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This season alone Cuban labeled Jackson the "boy-toy" of girlfriend Jeanie Buss in January, and when the two teams met again in the middle of March, Jackson said he'd be interested in hosting a show with Charlie Sheen on Cuban's HDNet cable network. "I'd like to introduce the movies or something like that," Jackson said. "I'm all about musicals."
Maybe Phil's just jealous that Mark stole (or rather, bought) his nickname. The first of many books that Jackson has written throughout the years was titled "Maverick: More than a Game" and it detailed his playing days with the New York Knicks.
The best part about their back and forth is that it's rubbing off on their players. Jason Terry told ESPN Radio in Dallas prior to Thursday's game that he thought the Lakers backcourt of the 36-year-old Derek Fisher and 32-year-old Kobe Bryant was too old to deal with him and the speedy Rodrigue Beaubois.
"So much for his career after basketball being an analyst," Bryant shot back after the game, after he and Fisher combined for 34 points and three steals to Terry and Beaubois' combined 10 points and zero steals.
Terry has plenty of enemies in the Lakers' locker room after his flagrant foul on Steve Blake in the fourth quarter on Thursday resulted in a fracas that ended up with five players being ejected by game's end.
A Lakers-Mavericks series was attention-grabbing enough with future Hall of Famers in Bryant, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki battling on the court and Jackson and Cuban jawing off of it, but now we're adding bad blood to the mix, too?
"Each one has got a taste of the other team in their mouth" was how Jackson put it.
"It would be intense," Odom said of a potential playoff date with the boys in blue. "There are good matchups all over the court. Both teams are well-coached and disciplined and have been successful in the past. I think we'll push each other."
He didn't mean "push" in the literal sense, but after Thursday, who knows?
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.