MIAMI –– On the court, it may be the Miami Heat's LeBron James versus Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association finals.
But between two Catholic archbishops, it's Florida stone crabs and Miami hand-rolled cigars up against Texas barbecue and San Antonio fajitas with perhaps a side of corn chips.
As he has done for the last three years that the Heat has qualified for the finals, Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski has made a "friendly wager" with his counterpart in an NBA city. This year it's San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller.
Wearing a Heat cap and surrounded by life-size posters of Heat star Dwyane Wade, Archbishop Wenski announced the bet during a news conference at the archdiocesan Pastoral Center June 6, just hours before tip-off for the first game in the best-of-seven series.
"Thanks to a good friend," the archbishop said, he would be watching the first championship playoff game from a courtside seat at the American Airlines Arena.
He predicted the game would be "the first night of a sweep."
"I am looking forward to Texas barbecue," he said.
But the Spurs took the game, beating the Heat, 92-88.
The bet is this: In the "unlikely event," as Archbishop Wenski put it, the Heat lose the series, he would send Archbishop Garcia-Siller Florida stone crabs from Islamorada in the Florida Keys and a box of hand-made Cuban seed cigars rolled in Miami.
Should Miami lose, San Antonio's archbishop would send his Miami colleague 20 pounds of Texas barbecue brisket and 10 pounds of fajitas. At the news conference, the archbishop also alluded to taco chips.
"We can do it in four (games)," Archbishop Wenski predicted, "unless we want more drama. The Heat has what it takes and they will take it."
Asked if God was on Miami's side, he said God is "on everybody's side." But "besides our prayers, we also have LeBron James."
Like the Heat, the archbishop's betting record is 1-1. The Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 finals and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 finals.
In San Antonio, Archbishop Garcia-Siller admitted to reporters that he was "not a basketball expert … just a fan of the best team in the NBA." Then he rattled off his own reasons why the Spurs will win the title, noting that Spurs' star Manu Ginobili is from Argentina, just like Pope Francis.
He took at jab at the Heat's mascot and its green basketball nose, saying the Spurs Coyote is much tougher. The archbishop also pointed to the Spurs' uniform colors: black and silver. "I wear black all the time," he said.
Rodriguez-Soto is editor of the Miami archdiocesan edition of The Florida Catholic.