Portland's Cooper happy to see Mavericks win NBA title

Kenny Cooper vs. FC Dallas

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Kenny Cooper’s connections to Dallas run deep, which is why he may be looking for a few extra tickets when the Timbers play FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MatchDay Live).

Cooper grew up and played high school soccer in Dallas, committed to Southern Methodist University (before skipping college to sign with Manchester United instead) and scored 40 goals in 90 games with FC Dallas from 2006-09. So it’s no wonder he was thrilled when the Dallas Mavericks recently won the NBA championship.

“I grew up watching them,” Cooper said. “I have so much respect for Dirk [Nowitzki]. I was excited for him and the other guys.”

Cooper’s younger brother Joe, who did play at SMU — under current FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman, no less — is an even bigger Mavs fan.

“My brother is studying abroad and when the games were on we would connect with him on Skype and then turn the camera toward the TV so he could watch,” Cooper said.

The Timbers forward said he was happy for his hometown.

“It was a lot of fun watching them [win],” Cooper said. "The city loves its basketball team."

The first time the Timbers played FC Dallas, at JELD-WEN Field on April 17, Portland’s Trail Blazers were preparing to play the Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Many Timbers fans brought “Beat Dallas” signs to the soccer match that had been distributed at the Rose Garden arena where the Blazers play.

Cooper said he has a rooting interest in two NBA franchises now.

“I’ve always liked the [NFL’s] Cowboys and the Mavericks,” he said. “But I also kind of like the Blazers, too, so I want to support my new hometown’s team as well.”