Why is Charles Barkley the only national sports commentator to respect the Mavs?
But like I have to hand it to Cuban for being accessible and refreshing, I have to give Sir Charles his due for recognizing that the Mavericks are a different team this year.
Barkley turned a lot of heads by picking Dallas to beat the Lakers in the playoffs before that series began. He didn't pick them to win the first two road games—even most diehard fans didn't do that. But Barkley picked the Mavs to win in six.
Barkley is the only national sports commentator who I can locate who picked the Mavs over the Lakers. Some local Dallas media picked the Mavs, but even a lot of those chose LA.
Skip Bayless of ESPN, who I met as a fellow sports journalist in Dallas in the early 1980s, not only picked the Lakers to win this series, but he continues to tweet about how LA could still win. After Dallas went up 3-0, most of Skip's tweets about the series were like this one, "But loved Kobe saying he might be "sick in the head," but win G4 in Dallas, go home win G5, then see if Mavs could handle pressure in G6..."
Even when Bayless admitted Dirk "outclosed" Kobe in Game 3, Bayless left the door open by saying, "But until he finishes Kobe..." Many in the media are still saying similar things. If OKC, which only won its first playoff series this year, had the Lakers down 3-0, I doubt many people would be talking and writing and tweeting about a Lakers comeback possibility.
Does Charles Barkley being the lone national media figure to pick Dallas over LA change your opinion of him?
Here is a partial list of those who picked the Lakers:
Michael Wilbon, ESPN: Lakers in 5
John Hollinger, ESPN: Lakers in 5
Henry Abbot, TrueHoop: Lakers in 5
J.A. Adande, ESPN: Lakers in 6
Chris Broussard, ESPN: Lakers in 6
Tim Legler, ESPN: Lakers in 6
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Lakers in 6
Zach Harper, Daily Dime Live: Lakers in 6
Chad Ford, ESPN: Lakers in 7
Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: Lakers in 7
Chris Sheridan, ESPN: Lakers in 7
Mark Stein, ESPN: Lakers in 7
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Lakers in 7
Kenny Smith, TNT: Lakers [did not specify how many games]
Randy Galloway, Galloway & Company: Lakers in 5
Luke Kammrath, DallasBasketball.com: Lakers in 6
Mike Fisher, DallasBasketball.com and FS Southwest: Lakers in 6
Chuck Cooperstein, Coop and Nate: Lakers in 7
Who knows, the Lakers may make NBA history by becoming the first team to come back and win after being down 0-3.
But as Sir Charles says, I doubt it.