Don't get me wrong: I realize that every sportswriter born between 1980 and 1990 is constitutionally required to make Space Jam references twice a month, and I am no exception to that rule. But I don't think I've ever seen a sports story that was ever covered as though it were Space Jam, at least until Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks went up against the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.â†µ
There have been better teams than the Heat; in fact, all of us Space Jam-mentioners spent part of their childhood watching the 72-10 Chicago Bulls. And we rooted for them! One of the weirdest things about basketball in the nineties was that unless you were a fan of the Indiana Pacers you probably rooted for the Monstars every game. America's habit of cheering on the underdog in everything except wars and automobile manufacturing was just universally called off for an entire decade of NBA basketball, which might be why it was such a successful decade for the association; they didn't have to sell a sport, they just had to sell the chance to watch Hulk Hogan go down with a terrible flu and then pulverize some other team for 48 minutes.â†µ
Obviously that is not the case today, and while I'm attempting to observe this phenomenon I'm definitely not avoiding it; I've rooted for the Mavericks like I was born in Dallas all week, and that's only going to continue. Poor LeBron James. He wanted to be Michael Jordan, but it turns out he was a Nerdluck all along.