I’m about to be conflicted.
Without a true rooting interest in the NBA, I’ve settled into pulling for a few teams just because I like their style, their structure, a certain player or two, etc. Additionally, I might favor a particular team’s television production (i.e. excellent lighting), or I just my find their color scheme to be aesthetically pleasing. In any event, these days, I just end up cheering for teams like Denver, Phoenix, Chicago, and a few others…
… and that’s why, when it comes to this year’s playoffs, I’m completely damned.
The Bulls – the one team I like that had a realistic chance of doing serious damage – had their chances seriously damaged by the ultra-depressing demise of D-Rose’s increasingly fragile legs. The Nuggets are a fun team to watch and could be something down the road, but they don’t have a legitimate chance. The Suns didn’t even make it to the postseason.
When you’re out of favorites, you turn to rooting against teams. Therefore, you end up rooting for teams that you normally would not. It’s the “lesser of two evils” approach, and it always feels really dirty, but it must be done. You don’t have a choice. You only have one real option. Your hand has been forced. It’s sort of like when you move to a new apartment and you find out that they don’t allow pets, so you have to take your precious animal-friend down to the local water reservoir and take him/her for a swim. One of those eternal swims…
That was a joke. I’ve never done that.
Anyhow, because of my obvious, pathetically-genuine hate of all things Oklahoma City, and my general disdain for Miami, here are the teams that I’m about to hop into bed with:
1) The Los Angeles Lakers
If we assume that the Lakers and Thunder are to meet up in the next round, then I’m going full-on L.A. The thing about the Lakers is that my dislike is more based on growing up in a time when they were often an opponent for the Supersonics, and because you tend to get tired of all things Los Angeles if you don’t actually live there. It’s not “New York bad,” but it’s irritating.
You get tired of Kobe Bryant, even though he’s the best player of the modern era and you’d kill to have him on your team. He’s heralded for his tireless work-ethic and his straight-forward demeanor by Lakers fans. That’s all true, of course, but it’s easy for the rest of us to take the vibe he gives off and go, “Man, that dude is a dick.” You deem the man a rapist, even though he wasn’t found guilty of that (he did it, though… just so you know). You actively root for him to fail, knowing full-well that he won’t.
You also get a bit exhausted by the “scene.” The Showtime. The dimmed, Staples Center lighting. The celebrities. Showing a Hollywood mainstay in his or her courtside seat does nothing but add to the pretentious aura. It is immediately assumed that “celebrity x” doesn’t know shit about basketball when, in fact, quite a few of them do. Furthermore, the generalization that “all Laker fans are idiots” starts to get thrown around, despite the fact that the true fans of the team are amongst the most passionate and knowledgeable that I am aware of. It’s a shame, really. Basically, if you’re not living in California and you see a girl wearing Lakers merch, you basically (and unfairly) bet on her being brainless and representative of an heiress that you might see texting away from her 2nd-row view (by the way, if you’re one of those and you’re reading this, get at me – I’m fresh and smart, with no priors, and I’ll value you for more than your $$$ or the way your body looks… probably).
However, those days will be temporarily forgotten, because I’ll be ready to ride the wave all the way to the championship, if necessary. Interestingly enough, I am very much intrigued by this L.A. group and their chances, so they might as well take advantage of my support and do it all. Nothing would make me happier than to see Kobe drop 47 and a game-winner on the road against the Thunder (complete with those nasty Kobe faces). Send those fans back to whatever the fuck it is they do there (farm-stuff, I think).
That last part was completely uncalled for. Deal with it.
2) The Boston Celtics
All of the worst people in the country are fans of Boston sports. Look it up. I worked with a guy who was from Boston and had moved out here for the job. He had the accent, wore the Garnett jersey on casual Fridays, and all of our sports conversations quickly shifted to Celtics/Patriots/Sox/Bruins talk. It was as awesome as it sounds. I can only imagine that he was wishing for two things the entire time he was in Seattle:
- “I wish I had the panache and general groove of that Wes fellow,” and
- “I wish I was back in Boston.”
And, wouldn’t you know it, he moved back there as soon as he could. I hope he’s happy (in all seriousness, he was a really cool guy, but whatever).
The last thing that franchise and city needs is another title of any sort. They never need to win anything again. However, if it comes down to Celtics/Heat, then you better believe I’m going Boston. I’ll get out the green and the House of Pain and everything. I’ll even cheer for the ultimate reprobate, Paul Pierce, to win some sort of award.
It seems that the Celts have a good chance of getting that far, simply based on the elimination of Chicago from the picture. They aren’t even past the Hawks yet but, come on, it’s Atlanta. I won’t like it, but it’ll be necessary.
3) The San Antonio Spurs
I’m on record as a strong opponent of the Spurs because I’m so very sick and tired of them. I can’t get past the vision that has been permanently etched in my head. Tony Parker can get better and better, and I still can’t see him as anything other than a little, French bastard who was responsible for about 800 annoying cutaways to Eva Longoria per game. Oh, and cheating on said broad with Brent Barry’s wife didn’t help. I can’t look at Manu Ginobili as anything other than the guy who might be the primary offender when it comes to introducing the “flop” to the NBA. Tim Duncan is still boring. Hell, in my mind, Bruce Bowen is still on the active roster.
In reality, they’re everything that’s right about basketball in a lot of ways. They have unselfish stars who redefine themselves as need be. They emphasize team basketball and constantly add to their depth with smart personnel decisions and brilliant strategy. Their coach is arguably the best in the game. It’s all hoops – all the time.
So, I guess I’ll fall back on all of that if they end up facing the Thunder or the Heat (and probably the Celtics).
4) The Miami Heat
That’s right. This only happens if they face OKC. It runs that deep.
In all honesty, it looks like the Lakers are my best, realistic bet. Some might point to Memphis as a possible sleeper, but I don’t like Memphis that much. Why? I’m not sure. I think it has something to do with the amount of music that is played during transition at a Memphis home game. STOP PLAYING MUSIC DURING THE GAME.
Like I said, I don’t like the situation I’m in one bit. But, you gotta do whatcha gotta do.
– Wes Lilliman