While all those things are cool, my hope is fans keep all of this in perspective. If we take the NBA for what it is, then it won't be a shock when things hit the fan and the unsurprising happens. You know why it won’t be a shock? Because the NBA is no longer to be trusted, and today, in a continuance of the initial Seat’s Taken post written earlier in the year, I explain why.
In case you didn’t know, 50% of the NBA championships have gone to two NBA franchises: the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the past three years alone, the championship has been dominated by both of them. There is absolutely zero reason to believe that one of them will not, at the worst, be their conference’s representative for the NBA Finals next June. Personally, I’d love for it to be Boston, for the fact that KG, Paul Pierce, and the rest of the Celtics could earn another ring, because we all know Boston was robbed in Game Seven last year, aka The Worst Officiated Fourth Quarter of my Lifetime.
However, if it’s not Boston and say if it’s Miami, then the NBA will still win, because no one is going to stop the Lakers from making it out of the West. The reason that is the case is because the Western Conference is a fraud and a disgrace (another post that will be run soon; I already wrote it, so you’ll see it). The NBA has been banking on a LeBron-Kobe Final for years, and if Miami somehow makes it out of the East, the League will get what they want.
When and if this occurs, and the Heat are able to beat LA (which, presently, I don’t think they can), then it would be reminiscent of the Bulls seizing power in the NBA in the early 1990’s by beating a proud, yet aging, decrepit, past-their-prime Los Angeles Lakers team, and even though that title started the Bulls dominance, do you think the League would have been hurt if the Lakers somehow beat Chicago that year? Absolutely not, and it’s because the Lakers were a dynasty in the 1980’s, a championship organization prior to that anyway, and when all else fails, they could look to Magic, Big Game James and the rest of them to keep the league afloat from a marketability and visibility standpoint, until Mike was ready to win. However, that didn’t have to happen, because once the Bulls won, along with all the efforts of marketing MJ in previous years, the hard work was done. The Jordan would never allow his teams to lose again.
See, this is serious business, people. It's not about basketball anymore, and it stopped being about basketball a long time ago. It stopped being about basketball in 2002, when I, as a 19-year-old fan, saw the Sacramento Kings get jobbed out of a trip to the NBA Finals against the Lakers. That’s when my feelings for the league became conflicted, and as time passed, the misfortunes, teams falling apart, and the same teams having a monopoly over the championship came into focus.
It continued in the 2006 Finals, from Game Four to the end of Game Six, when Wade got more calls than any superstar we’ve seen, post-Jordan. Game Seven of this past Finals was the last straw. I honestly believe the league would rather market stars than market team, and even though the Celtics have Hall of Famers, none of them possess singular star power anymore. However, the Lakers do, with Kobe, and we saw it in the way the Finals were marketed last year. It was The Drive for Five vs. the Celtics. It was more about him chasing a fifth ring than LA looking for their 16th championship. It’s individuals first, and if they so happen to play on a championship team (by championship team, I mean the ones that have won rings in the past 25 years), or have someone who’s been a part of a dynasty before (cue The Godfather, aka Pat Riley, and his influence on the old Lakers teams and the Heat title team from 2006), then it’s all good.
Even with these factors at play, fans can still, and should, enjoy the season. Look for stories within the game to make it fun, because if you make it about winning and losing the championship and do not grasp that the outcome (at least, the pieces) is already in place, then when it happens, you will be devastated beyond belief. There’s a lot of basketball to be played, and as long as it’s viewed in a certain context, your NBA season will be just fine.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!