NBA's Western Conference Finals begins shift in Oklahoma City-Dallas relationship

BY BERRY TRAMEL, Staff Writer, btramel@opubco.com Published: May 16, 2011

Oklahomans have been crossing the Red River for big-time sporting events for the better part of a century.

OU-Texas. The Cotton Bowl. The Big 12 basketball tournament. Big 12 football championship. NCAA basketball tournaments.

All staged in Greater Dallas.

But notice the commonality of those events. All staged on neutral territory. All had their share of Sooner or Cowboy fans.

There will be nothing neutral about American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.

The Thunder plays the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the NBA's Western Conference Finals, what could be a two-week drama and what most definitely will rearrange the Dallas-Oklahoma City relationship.

Dallas long has sought Oklahoma sports fans to help fill the seats of marquee events. But in this series, any Thunder fans who find their way into the arena will be considered infidels.

Look at it this way. A whole bunch of native Oklahomans who have cheered for the Sooners against the Longhorns, or for the Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl, or even for OU or OSU when they've visited Texas Christian or Southern Methodist universities and made up at least half the crowd will be cheering like mad for the Mavericks on Tuesday night.

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