June 2nd, 2011
04:28 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN)– With the NBA Finals under way between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, Catholic bishops from Miami and Dallas are betting on the action.
Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski is a big Heat fan. He offered a "friendly wager" to Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell, himself an avid Mavericks fan.
"Archbishop Wenski approached us. He decided he wanted to prove the Miami Heat were much better than the Mavs. I couldn't let them think they were better than we were," Farrell said by phone from Dallas.
While the Heat's Lebron James and Maverick's Dirk Nowitzki battle it out on the court over the right to hoist the NBA's Larry O'Brien championship trophy, they are also unwittingly fighting for the bishops' bragging rights and some hometown gear.
Wenski has anted up key lime pies and stone crabs, a box of cigars handmade in Miami-Dade County, and a fish bowl containing Fort Lauderdale sand, water from the Atlantic Ocean, and shells from the beach if the favored Heat lose.
Farrell has put up BBQ ribs, tortillas and salsa, deep dish pecan pies and a "Don't Mess with Texas" cap if the Mavericks lose.
"If the Mavs do win, I want to send him a gift anyway," Farrell said. "If they win I want to send him a hat that says 'Don't Mess with Texas.' Then he can send me a picture of him wearing it."
Farrell said the two have known each other for 12 years, having served together on committees with the U.S. Conference of
Much has been made in the NBA this year about James' move to Miami, where he teamed up with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. James, a former league MVP, went from a hometown hero with the Cleveland Cavaliers in his native Ohio to the state's most infamous sports heel. It is a role James has reveled in this season and throughout the playoffs. As a result, the Heat have been branded by many commentators as the bad guys.
Farrell knows a thing or two about good and evil in his occupation. "I don't think they're exactly the evil empire ... but they are bad. The good guys," he said, "will come out on top."
Despite hand injury to the Maverick's star player, Nowitzki, Farrell said his hometown team will win the day and he is looking forward to eating some fresh Florida crabs.
"It'll come down to the seventh game, with Mavs pulling off the victory," he said.
Asked if he will be sending up any extra prayers for the Dallas team he said with no hesitation, "We don't need help! We do need the help; I hope God didn't hear that."
The Heat lead the best of seven series 1-0.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.