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Palace Pride | Behind Enemy Lines
SAN ANTONIO, Texas, June 24 -- The Lone Star State has hosted the last two Game 7s in a NBA Finals. In 1994, the Rockets defeated the New York Knicks in Houston.

And in the spirit (and language) of the Spurs' French point guard, Spurs' fans must have had a sense of dιjΰ vu that their Texas team would wrangle up the title again.

Sam Malfianto, who relocated to San Antonio from Philadephia, Pa. in 1981, has been a big Spurs fan since the move. Along with his son, Anthony, a big Bruce Bowen fan, the two came prepared for the Spurs to win the title tonight.

The father and son arrived at the SBC Center with a sign declaring that the "Fat Lady Singing is Imminent," and a replica of the Larry O'Brien trophy.

"I'm a big-time fan. I'm a season ticket holder and go way back to the HemisFair," said Malfianto. "They will do it tonight."

Another clan of Spurs' fans, the Cortezes, was equally confident. While the father, Ray Cortez, sported a funky skunk cap reminiscent of a coon-skin hat made famous by Alamo hero, Davy Crockett, the son Ray Samuel, age 8, wore a basketball net styled hat.

"I've worn it before," said Cortez.. "The last time was against the Lakers and we won."

They called each "Skunk Head" and "Hoop Head."

Whatever they call each other, it was clear they were big Spurs' fans.

"We were so disappointed the Spurs didn't win it in Game 6, I kept waiting for the team to set a tone and it never came," said the senior Cortez. "But they'll win a tight one tonight by three."

"Yes," chimed in his son. "Ginobili will do it. He's my favorite player because he is so aggressive and cool."

There was also a NBA player in the building who was doubling as a Spurs fan. Boris Diaw, a 6-8 guard from France, who just finished his second year with the Atlanta Hawks, was here to root for his friend, Parker.

"I've known Tony for a while now," Diaw said. "We used to play together back in France. There was a center where the best 15-18 year-olds would come together to play."

The athletic Diaw also ventured up to Detroit to watch Games 3 and 5 and was excited about The Finals.

"This has been a great series," said Diaw. "This is Game 7 -- the first one since '94. You have the two past champions battling it out and they know each other so well after so many games."

Diaw respected the healthy competition and although he was biased, he stayed away from a prediction.

"I'm pulling for Tony and the Spurs and I am here to see them win, but I'm not sure who will win."

A NBA hopeful was also at the SBC Center. Jawad Williams, the senior starting forward for the 2005 NCAA Champion North Carolina Tar Heels, was here to just soak it all in.

"This is my first time at The Finals," said Williams. "It will come down to who can make their shots … they both can win it."

Seeing Rasheed Wallace of the Pistons, a fellow Tar Heel, playing in Game 7, however, does conjure up some college pride.

"That's one of the main reason's why I chose Carolina," reflected Williams. "The ties that the school has to the NBA are great. All the players come back."