If your team fails to make the NBA Playoffs, what is the big incentive to watch? Seriously, it isn’t like the NCAA Tournament, where you secretly hope that Littleton Art College of Nobody Gives a Crap makes a run to the Elite Eight, even if it means your bracket will be desecrated or your beloved alma mater may play Goliath to LACNGC’s oh-so-spunky-and-inspiring David (the statue). The NBA Playoffs contain none of that excitement. They are a drawn-out torture unaffiliated fans have to endure, consisting of painful months of LeBron James being coddled, Kevin Durant causing Blazers fans everywhere to slip into incurable depression, the excruciating reality of Shaq’s continued presence on Inside the NBA, and Atlanta Hawks basketball (just kidding, ATL fans. We all know you only have, mercifully, two games left. But hey, at least you’ll always have Outkast and Williams Street).
Listen, Playoffs: you aren’t entertaining enough to run for multiple months. Sorry, but it’s true. Yes, many people consider April-June “down months” in terms of sports, but that’s just because those people are too lazy to find other events to watch. There are numerous options: I’m sure some soccer teams are playing to a 0-0 tie somewhere, the NHL is…uh…NHL-ing, aaaand (does a quick Google search) holy crap, Todd Helton still plays for the Rockies? Isn’t he an AARP member? I mean, just consider at all those potential “narratives” for sports bloggers to pontificate about while putting use to their 101-level of understanding regarding what constitutes a narrative! With so much excitement, I don’t know how I sleep at night (yes I do: it’s a combination of Ambien and being forced to watch Supernatural by my roommate’s girlfriend). The NBA Playoffs are misguided in feeling like they own this time of year; there are so many other opportunities for athletic escapism that I don’t know where to waste my time next.
What’s even worse than that prolonged dullness of the NBA Playoffs is that the whole shebang is kind of predictable, never a good quality for a seventy-day event hinged upon, ya know, unpredictability. Does anybody really think the Grizzlies or the Nets are going to make a run at the title this year? No. Nobody thinks those thoughts. These playoffs will continue to lack anything resembling tension. OMG, you mean OKC is gonna b good?! Iz Miami the team to beat?? These playoffs are more predictable than Honey Boo Boo needing intensive psychiatric counseling when she’s older. They’re more predictable than some stoned dude you’re meeting for the first time playing “Acid Raindrops” by People Under the Stairs to “entirely, like, blow your mind, bro”. They’re more predict-Abel than a dyslexic fortune-teller in the Garden of Eden. Come on, we all know what the outcome is going to be.
Predictability and duration considered, there is, of course, one potential factor that can redeem the entire ordeal and make it not only tolerable but fun: vehemently rooting against teams and players you despise.I believe the academic term for this is being a “hater.” Now, while being a hater isn’t okay as a lifestyle choice, it is certainly okay as an occasional slip-up, much like forgetting to floss then lying to your dental hygienist, drinking a light beer, or occasionally finding yourself really drawn to HGTV programming. It’s the Psilocybe semilanceata of sports: perfectly okay in small doses, but undesirable as a habit. Indulging in a little irrational loathing can’t hurt, right? What’s wrong with trying to spice things up?
Herein resides the huge problem with these 2013 Playoffs: a dearth of detestable players. Without those lightning rods of unjustified scorn, what fun is there? Who is even available to hate on? Kobe Bryant is hurt, which deprives me of my favorite object of contempt (Note: It appears the Lakers were officially swept by the Spurs since I first wrote this, which fills me with indescribable joy). Even worse, I now feel socially obligated to “respect him” as he “recovers” from his injury (with what I’m sure is an amalgamation of German engineering and witchcraft). Derrick Fisher is too old be worth rooting against, which is too bad because he has such a punchable face. Hating Lebron James is soooo 2011. JJ Reddick didn’t survive past the opening round. JR Smith, a guy I’d normally love to see fail, made maybe the best Rene Magritte allusion ever earlier this year and is therefore untouchable. See? There’s nobody left!
Of course, I could choose not to hate and simply cheer, but that is just silly. Unfounded love and support is for hippies and guidance counselors (so…Jeff Rosso?). I enjoy pulling for the Spurs, I suppose, but that is only because watching Greg Popovich be interviewed is a sublime pleasure along the lines of cookie-dough ice cream, petting a friendly dog, and “Come on Eileen.” The problem is, rooting for any team good enough to make the playoffs is the type of unjustifiable front running that is corrupting America. In the end, I guess I’ll just be mildly enthused whenever Andre Miller spits in the wizened face of Father Time and call it good.
All that said, it isn’t like I won’t watch the playoffs. I’m addicted to basketball; I’d go to a twelve-step program but I don’t want to travel. Even if the regular season ended with the Blazers being the second-biggest disappointment to the city of Portland besides Portlandia, it is unfair of me to clutch to my bitterness like flotsam. I need to move on and learn to love life again. The 2013 Playoffs may be a shallow, hollow excuse for me to watch basketball, but trying to derive some enjoyment from the experience trumps me moping around for months, crying periodically into the threadbare neckline of my Brandon Roy jersey. It may not be the most riveting of televised events, but it certainly beats not following basketball. Really, I should be thankful; without the playoffs TNT would be forced to show reruns of Upload with Shaquille O’Neal (which is almost, almost, as unbearable to watch as the Atlanta Hawks).