Last night's third game in the NBA playoff series between the Miami Heat and New Jersey Nets was a nail-biter, filled with key shots -- and misses -- and concluding in a dramatic double-overtime win for the favored Heat. The excitement can get you so absorbed that you don't realize the teams' arena-branding coincidence.

The Heat play their games at American Airlines Arena, while the Nets have their home court licensed to Continental Airlines (NYSE:CAL). And there's a good chance that the next round of the playoffs will feature Miami going up against the Chicago Bulls, with games taking place in the Heat's home and at UAL's (OTC BB: UALAQ) United Center in Chicago.

American Airlines. Continental. United Airlines. Yes, all airlines. The Utah Jazz isn't in the running this season, but that team plays its games at the Delta Center -- as in Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL).

The Heat closed out the season with the best record in the league's Eastern Conference. The most victorious squad in the Western Conference was the Phoenix Suns, a team that just happens to play its games at America West Arena. So don't be surprised if you see even more postseason action taking place at dueling airline-branded arenas.

But what's the deal here? Haven't the airlines been in dire straits? Didn't the government have to kick in with some serious funds just to keep some of these guys running a couple of years ago? Their financial statements still look horrendous. Yes, Continental did turn a profit in 2003, but shouldn't this entire sector have better things to do with their hard-to-come-by greenery than spend millions on naming rights?

Don't even get me started on how ludicrous it will be if the Heat wind up playing against the Dallas Mavericks in the finals. That would mean going from American Airlines Arena in Miami to American Airlines Center in Dallas.

Why is that the more prudent and profitable air carriers like Southwest (NYSE:LUV) and JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) don't have their names slapped on basketball arenas courtesy of some extravagant deals? I mean, sure, I see those "Want to get away?" spots from Southwest during some NBA games, but that's sensible advertising. I've never met anyone who has decided to choose an airline based on the name of a team's home court. There is too much ego involved in that kind of concrete structure thinking.

Want proof? Do you remember Enron Field in Houston, or when the New England Patriots hurled the pigskin at CMGI (NASDAQ:CMGI) Field? Need I say more?

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz won't sell naming rights to his backyard. He did attend the first game in the Heat-Nets playoff series, though he didn't fly American to get there. He does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.