Monday, May 16, 2011

Fans Of Hoop, Or Fans Of Laundry

This NBA playoff season has been, with the exception of providing an exemplary Game Seven or two, tremendous. End to end action, great flow, a minimum amount of flopping and ref puling, big-time upsets, highlights aplenty and more, more, more. There hasn't even been a ref blowup, or suspension offense for any player that's still on a live team. When the worst playoff moments involve a Laker sweep, you know you are living in a great playoff year. With the exception of my own laundry going deeper, as a hoops fan, I couldn't ask for anything more.

It's also about to be classified, in many circles, as a failure.

The reason why, of course, is the Western Conference series between Dallas and Oklahoma City. Without the Los Angeles market to bring in viewers (and to a substantial but lesser extent, the drop from Boston versus Miami), there's a very real chance that the second series is going to be seen as a failure, regardless of the aesthetics of the ball.

And well, that's kind of sad and wrong and fascinating, and it also speaks to a certain complaint that the non-Laker, non-Celtic NBA Fan Universe has had for a very long time. To wit... are you a fan of your team, or a fan of the game?

The average NFL fan isn't missing the Super Bowl, no matter which team is playing. Even in my nightmare scenario of Patriots vs. Cowboys. I'm watching that game, betting on it, finding some reason to root for one team or the other. I may hate it -- well, forget the may -- but I'm not missing it. (The World Series has the same issues, but with a game that's 3+ hours on average. But moving on.)

A seven game series? Well... that's a much larger time commitment, over many more days and nights, without the benefit of expensive advertising, a communal experience, massive betting, etc., etc. For teams where you have no prior love or hate, that's a lot... but if you love the game, it's not.

For the rest of us, in all of these non-blessed markets, we've been doing this for years, assuming that the last three playoff series aren't just hard on the eyes, the way that, say, Pistons-Spurs were. But all of these, well, spoiled Boston or Los Angeles children? It's hard to see how they overcome their hatred of the Heat and Bulls to keep with the games, no matter how good the games may be. And now that each of the rivals is gone, leaving them no obvious surrogate to root for... well, I'm thinking the Western games will be about half of last year's, despite the fact that the Thunder are incredibly watchable, and Dallas is a major market with well-known stars.

But there's always the chance that Laker Fan actually likes hoop, or can spend their time rooting for the Thunder to end the Mavs, or the Mavs to go on and provide the cold comfort of being as good as they looked in their sweep. But I'm not betting on it...


Anonymous said...

This doesn't really address your post. I guess in some ways it makes the opposite point but on a smaller scale. I've never really been an NBA fan. I watched large parts of the Bulls' Finals as a kid, but before three years ago I'd never seen a full regular season game, and in fact probably watched about 10 minutes of regular season action per year on average.

Then OKC got a team. I grew up in OK although I (thankfully) no longer live there. But I still have certain feelings for Oklahoma and getting a pro sports team, even in a league I never really cared about (which I never imagined happening), has awakened my underlying nationalist (state-istic?) tendencies. These playoffs I've gone through as much emotions as during OU football season (but if you ask me again in the fall I'll probably deny this). I've probably watched more than half of the Thunder's games on internet feeds the last three years, and have watched every playoff game the last two years, but honestly, if they don't make the finals, I doubt I'll watch much of the Mavs v. Bulls/Heat.

I'm not really sure where this fits in with your post. I'll admit to being something of a front-runner, although I was watching this team back when they were 3-29 a couple years ago. But mostly I'm definitely in the "fan of the laundry" camp, as opposed to a fan of the sport. You seem to be disparaging that view with your post, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I guess I would just say, fuck Lakers fans in general.

snd_dsgnr said...

You're apparently a bigger man than I am, I don't think I could bring myself to watch a Patriots-Cowboys Super Bowl. I'd have to root for the Patriots, and that would just make me feel all kinds of dirty inside.

DMtShooter said...

OKC Fan, I think you get a pass as a noob. If the Thunder reel off a couple of crowns, and you watch all of that, then bail as soon as they get knocked off? Then, not so much. And yes, agreed on Laker Fan.

I think that being a fan of the sport also means you are a likely more of a fan of individual players, i.e., a fantasy sports nerd. Good and bad with that.

And as for being able to watch a Patriots / Cowboys SB... you'd deny yourself the chance to delight in the misery of the losing team, and its fan base? David Tyree still makes me smile, for one...

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