Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Favorite Teams (Reprise)

Instead of an extremely long comment, I bring you the Reprise.

Favorite teams are a great thing. They definitely give people a reason to enjoy sports on a new level. I don't care if you even enjoy the sport, it makes life better to have a favorite team (Other than the NBA, my favorite teams are the Minnesota Vikings, the Colorado Avalanche, the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC if we want to go that far. However, this is an NBA blog....) Just last week, my co-worker was in my office and said, "I need to pick a favorite football team so I have someone to cheer for this season." He was trying to decide between the Titans and Vikings. Lucky for him, Rule #1 states that he can choose one for any reason at all.

My first memories of the NBA are very blurred. My cousin, Greg, once gave me his old Phoenix Suns baseball cap and told me that Charles Barkley was one of his favorite players. I still vividly remember the poster he had on his bedroom wall: Larry Bird, sitting in a giant birds' nest, on top of a basketball rim. He didn't look like much of a basketball player but I assumed he must be good to get his own poster (and his own nest). Somewhere along my childhood I discovered The Utah Jazz. I don't remember where, when, or how. I remember loving Stockton and Malone because they were the best at what they did and they didn't seek any additional attention. Anyone who acts like they are better than anyone else (even if they are) instantly becomes my least favorite player (eg. MJ & Kobe. As much as people want to put LBJ on that list, I don't think his TV broadcast necessarily equates to him acting like he's better than anyone else. He knew people were interested in his decision. Why not let everyone who wants watch him make it? Also, I guarantee you'd have more fun hanging out with Lebron than Kobe).

I love Rule 1: You can pick a favorite team for any reason at all. Why not, right? Why do you need a good reason? You don't. I also think that whatever team uses your favorite color is one of the top reasons for choosing a favorite team. T-Wah's favorite teams in the year 2000.....Jazz, Raptors, Suns (The Matrix was my favorite player for a while), Bucks (think Glen Robinson, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen). Did you notice the common thread? Purple. Or maybe your mom grew up in Minnesota so you like the T-Wolves. Or maybe you enjoy hunting so Gilbert's gunslinging makes you a fans of the Wizards.

I agree with Rule 2: You must stick with that team no matter what. If you didn't, then you're obviously not a fan. You're just a guy (or girl) cheering for some team. Here's the biggest question of all, that needs to be addressed in form or another....At what point, or under what circumstances, can you change your favorite team? I understand the "sticking with them no matter what" but what if you don't even like the team anymore? What if their colors have changed? What if their players are cocky (which I hate, as mentioned above)? Is there a minimum number of years/months that you have to stick with your favorite team? Once again, I think Bill Simmons covered this point too but I don't remember the circumstances warranting a change in favorite teams. (I used to think The Grey Nathan liked the Celtics because he shares a last name with Employee #8. Was that at least part of the reason you liked them?)

I want to put a spin on Rule 3: You can only have one. "You can only have ONE favorite team, but you can also have a secondary favorite team." It's sort of like having two favorite teams but you clearly cheer for one over the other when they play each other. Everyone knows the Jazz are my favorite team but I lived in Toronto for 2 years. How can they not be my secondary team? Instead of needing exceptions, which still make perfect sense, just have a secondary favorite team. Easy.

Haha, Exception 2: Steve Nash, makes me laugh. Canada has got to have the largest percentage of Suns fans outside of Arizona. And why not? We finally have somebody to call our own who is one of the best players ever; 2-time MVP, in fact. However, how many of these people are real NBA fans? It makes me wonder. I talk to people all the time who love the Suns yet they know next to nothing about basketball or the league. I'm not complaining, though. I think it'll take a few years after his retirement for some of these people to even realize he doesn't play anymore. Then they'll be back to being Lakers (a person's default favorite) or Raptors (Canada's team) fans.

Rule 4: Every year everyone gets one bandwagon team. I like this rule because it gives you a chance to cheer for someone who got you excited in the offseason. I mean, especially if some of your favorite players get traded, or sign elsewhere, you don't necessarily have to change favorite (or secondary favorite) teams, you just have to pick a bandwagon team that season. Half my Jazz are on the Bulls this season so I'm leaning towards them. Obviously Miami is in close contention for my BW team but they'll have enough bandwagon fans to last them a century.

Miller Regent, The Grey Nathan and Fats: to address your comments, I created Rule 5: "If your team (or secondary team) isn't in the playoffs, then you get to choose 1 'playoff favorite team.' If THEY get knocked out, then you can still choose a 'series/round favorite team.'" You need to cheer for someone, right? Otherwise, why watch the playoffs/finals? Just don't go trying to pretend that you've been their fan all along when next season begins.

Fats, I agree that if you're a true fan, then you probably have a haunting moment of your team's past. Oddly enough, I relieved that moment last night....Game 6 of the '98 Finals in Utah. MJ drains the shot that wins them the championship. However, if you're a recent fan, then you likely won't have a haunting moment so I don't think it deserves its own rule at this point. Haha, although I DO like the defining quality of a true fan that you brought up: convincing/persuading your wife/gf to remember and like your favorite team. There's no way in heck that Janae would ever not cheer for the Jazz. She even owns (and occasionally wears) her very own pink Jazz jersey and feels proud wearing it (or at least doesn't feel silly).

Alright fan friends, we're getting closer to our 10 commandments if we're going to keep using these rules and just build upon, and modify, them when necessary.

Happy back to school everyone except me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Exciting Things

I have been coming up short in the comments section lately. I have plenty to say about the C’s and V’s, and Regents Rankings. So without further ado (because I know how much we all hate ado), I offer some predictions from The Grey Nathan’s point of view.

This upcoming season is going to be exciting. It’s already exciting. It already passes one of Bill Simmons’ tests: people who don’t follow sports are even talking about it. Today at lunch Ashley (my wife – if, by some chance, anyone besides the four of us reads this) was wondering if the Heat have enough weapons to beat the Lakers in the finals. Whether they love or hate the 3 Buddies, people are excited about the NBA. But it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Just ask the experts at ESPN. They do it every year. A washed-up Vince Carter was going to push the Magic over the edge. Richard Jefferson was a missing link in San Antonio. Shaq would help the Cavs get past Orlando and bring Lebron a ring.

So in response to the last two Patrick Ewing’s Knee Pads articles, which both dealt in predictions, I give you The Grey Nathan’s Exciting Things That Will Work and Exciting Things That Won’t Work. (It's more of a long comment than an article)

The Exciting Things That Will Work (in no particular order):

1. The additions to the Lakers.

I agree 100% with Fats on this one. And this one goes overlooked. So I guess it might not even be considered an exciting thing. But that’s ok. They had two weaknesses: the point guard position, and their bench. Adding Steve Blake and Matt Barnes addresses both weaknesses. The defending champions got even better, and didn’t lose anyone. They finally realized that Farmar isn’t good, and replaced him with someone who plays a style that fits their system. And in Barnes they got that Doug Christie-type guy that everyone hates watching, but who helps his team in important ways.

2. The O’neals on the Celtics.

I haven’t been a big fan of the last few years of Shaq’s career. Phoenix was a terrible idea from the start, and I don’t even remember him playing for Cleveland. But this move actually makes sense. The Celtics will miss Perkins for a few months. So they filled that hole with Jermaine. His last few years haven’t exactly been spectacular, but he can still block shots and rebound, which is what Perkins gives them. Still, I thought they were downgrading, hoping to keep their heads above water until Perkins returns. But then they added Shaq, who actually fits Boston’s style. And I don’t mean he fits in with the rest of the Old Bones, Former-Superstar crew. Actually, I guess I do mean that. Just thinking about those old guys makes me want to have an asthma attack. But I also mean he fits their playing style. While he may not be as quick as he once was, he’s still humungous. And that means he can defend. He’ll block shots and get rebounds. Even if he doesn’t score he still gives them 6 fouls that can be used aggressively against opposing bigs. But he’ll also score. So will Jermaine. And that brings me to a bold prediction: The Celtics will beat the Heat in the playoffs.

Boston’s team defense has a way of shutting down the best players in the league. Just ask Kobe: 6 out of 24 times he’ll give you the right answer. They match up against Miami better than any other team. Miami has Haslem, who is not much bigger than Lebron, going up against Perkins/Big Baby/ Shaq/ JO. Also, Lebron and Wade aren’t going to have free reign of the key with the O’neals clogging it up. Boston’s team defense is better than any other teams’, so Mike Miller isn’t going to hurt them from outside as much as he will against poor help-defense. He won’t be left open from double teams on Lebron and Wade. But the key is down low. And Bosh is the wild card. He’s younger, quicker, and better than Boston’s big guys, but much weaker physically.

So my prediction is another Lakers-Celtics finals. But I can’t tell who is going to win. I’ve been thinking lately that the Lakers have a threepeat in them, but I think these last finals, if they didn’t lose Perkins, Boston would have won it. I try not to think about it, but they were up 13 in the 4th, and somehow blew it. So it could have gone either way. As soon as my head stops spinning I’ll post my final prediction.

3.The 3 Pals.

Obviously it’s going to work to some extent. Everyone is excited for a reason. You can’t put two of the best three players in the league, and one other all-star, on one team and not see success. They’re going to win a lot of games. Definitely in the regular season. Probably in the playoffs. But are they going to win a championship this year? I say no. So this could go in either category – it’s going to work if we’re talking in terms of wins. But it’s not going to work if we’re talking in terms of Jeff Vangundy.

4.The Bulls

Adding Boozer is going to add wins. So will getting rid of Vinny Del Negro. They will be one of the better teams in the east.

5.The Jazz

I guess it’s not really one of the exciting things, because no one is really talking about them, but I think it’s one of the things that will work. The Utah fans will be thanking the good Lord for David Kahn. Big Al will be a great fit for this team. If he stays healthy, all the experts are going to act like they’ve been talking about him for a long time.

The Exciting Things That Aren’t Going To Work

1.The Thunder

They will work. I just mean that everyone is getting too excited about them. They’re the team that came out of nowhere and surprised everyone. They surpassed expectations, but now expectations will surpass them. They’re good, but they’re not going to be second in the west, they’re not going to be in the finals, and they’re not going to win a championship.

2.Amaree Stoudemire

He’s not going to fade as fast as Shawn Marion, but he will fade. Raymond Felton is no Steve Nash. Maybe he’ll still put up decent numbers as New York’s only option, but the Knicks are going nowhere.

3.Portland

People are excited about them, but I don’t see why.

4.Houston

Same here

5.Orlando

They are overrated. Even though they got killed, Charlotte taught everyone a lesson in last season’s playoffs: get Dwight Howard in foul trouble and any decent team has a good chance to beat them. But I also predict that other teams aren’t going to learn that. I don’t know why, but they won’t.

6.Toronto

Losing Chris Bosh won’t work. Just kidding. No one is saying that it will - at least not this season. (I just had to put some Raptors thoughts on here)

They won’t be last in the east. They won’t be in the playoffs either. It’s going to be a long season, but I’m excited about the future. Maybe they’ll surprise people this season, but it will mostly be time for development for their young team. The average NBA fan couldn’t name 3 players on the team. Just like I can only name a couple on the Pacers. But Indiana fans are probably excited about the future as well. And when I think about that, I lose hope. So I try to look at it as objectively as possible.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Regent's Rankings of Power


I’ve always wondered what it would be like to get paid to write about the NBA, so I procrastinated writing this post until after my days off and during my shift at work… and I have to admit, it must be pretty awesome to be Bill Simmons. Although my gig, I must argue, is better than Bills. I may not get paid the big bucks… but I do get to wear a m├ętis costume, pretend that I am from the 1880’s and fight the English in a battle royal over treaty rights as well as write about the NBA! Can a summer job get much better than this? I honestly don’t think it can.

So here in my native American gift shop, a rather startling occurrence occurred. A boy, probably 6 years old, and his Grandfather came in to browse through the dream catchers and toy tomahawks I sell here. The boy wanted a tomahawk so he asked his Grandpa: “ Can I have a smashing stick?” The Grandpa replied: “No, do you know what those are used for? …. Those are used by Indians who will smash other Indians in the head, smashing a hole in their skull… then blood oozes out… then the “killer” Indian will take that blood and smear it all over a dream catcher so that he can see the dead Indian’s dreams!”

Although entertaining, this grandpa was not just inaccurate about his assessment of what tomahawks are used for, he was astronomically inaccurate!! and not to mention ridiculously morbid for an adult, let alone 6 year old child. So you might be wondering what on earth this story has to do with the NBA? That’s easy, Most preseason predictions of how the upcoming NBA season will turn out are pretty inaccurate. They are completely subject to opinion on moves, players and how it will all mesh together. I mean, how many times have “experts” predicted that the Spurs will be out of the playoffs because they are too old, only to be surprised that Timmy and Manu still have it in them to be legitimate title contenders by the time the post season rolls around. It’s almost like ESPN experts are trying to smash the NBA’s skull open and smear the oozing blood all over a dream catcher so that they can get an inside scoop on how the upcoming season will turn out, predictions just don’t work out too well… but they are entertaining.

So in the name of entertainment, I present a full NBA 2010/11 season prediction for every team, complete with wins/losses and brief explanations, only I won’t claim to be an expert on the matter. However, I will use this set of predictions as a starting point for what I call Regent’s Rankings of Power… I will try to update it every two weeks or so during the season and if a big move happens during the offseason. Feel free to disagree. Well, here it is:

Regent’s Rankings of Power

1. Miami Heat 69-13 If Lebron could lead his last two teams to 60+ wins, he can lead this group to atleast 65+
2. Orlando Magic 59-23 Orlando is pretty much the same team as last year, not much with their record will change either
3. Los Angeles Lakers 58-24 The lakers got slightly better this offseason, their record will get slightly better too.
4. Dallas Mavericks 54-28 Dallas may have gotten better with Tyson Chandler, but they keep getting older… they will probably end up about the same as last year.
5. Utah Jazz 54-28 The Jazz arguably got better with Al Jefferson, he is slightly bigger and probably a better offensive weapon than Boozer.
6. San Antonio Spurs 53-29 I don’t think the spurs are done yet, plus another year for Jefferson to gel with the team can’t be a bad thing.
7. Boston Celtics 53-29 The O’neals should be good enough to help the Celtics win three extra games this year.
8.OKC 52-30 The thunder will be better, but I think about 5th in the west is as far up as they will jump.
9. Chicago Bulls 50-32 If the Jazz could get 53 wins last year, the Jazz 2.0 should be able to get close to that win total.
10. Denver Nuggets 50-32 Assuming Melo stays, they should be around 6th in the west.
11. Portland Trail Blazers 49-33 The west is so crowded it is hard to tell where 4-8th will end up, hopefully Oden can prove to be a valuable 1st overall pick this year.
12. Milwaukee Bucks 49-33 Brandon Jennings will be close to an allstar this year and Andrew Bogut should be an allstar too.. they can lead their team to near 50 wins.
13. Phoenix Suns 48-34 You should never count out Steve Nash.
14. Atlanta Hawks 47-35 With all of these teams getting better in the east, some team has to lose a few extra.
15. New Orleans Hornets 45-37 Just out of the playoffs… Chris Paul can only do so much by himself.
16. Houston Rockets 44-38 It’s hard to judge the rockets, it all depends on how well Yao Ming can come back from injury.
17. Indiana Pacers 43-39 The pacers have a good group lacking a really good point guard… Then they got collison, a young really good point guard, they should make the playoffs.
18. New York Knicks 41-41 the knicks have the tools to barely make the playoffs in the east.
19. Los Angeles Clippers 41-41 the clips should be able to tread water at .500 with Griffin being a beast down low.
20. Memphis Grizzlies 40-42 was last years randolph breakthru a new trend for him or a freak accident?
21. Washington Wizards 40-42 Wall and Arenas can work… maybe, they will atleast be in the hunt for the playoffs.
22. Toronto Raptors 37-45 Derozan and Davis will surprise a lot of people this year.
23. Charlotte Bobcats 35-47 They lost their best center and point guard.. chances are their playoff debut was shortlived
24. Detroit Pistons 33-49 T-mac will not make them better
25. Sacramento Kings 33-49 It’s tough to tell how much better cousins will make this team.
26. Golden state Warriors 31-51 They need to sort out their curry/ellis situation.
27. Philadelphia 76ers 30-52 As long as they are locked down by Brand’s contract, they will be a 30 win team.
28. New Jersey Nets 27-55 Troy Murphey seems good for about +15 wins don’t you think?
29. Cleveland Cavaliers 22-60 Biggest Turnaround in NBA history? For the worst…
30. Minnesota Timberwolves 10-72 David Kahn…… need I say more?

I’m not sure if all of the win/loss totals add up as far as all of the games in the entire NBA are concerned, but it’s probably close. Miller out.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

C’s and V’s of the Offseason

Since this summer was one of, if not the most anticipated and exciting offseason in NBA history, it only seems right to start out my contributions with a ranking of the best and worst team moves of the summer. I've picked what I think are the best 4 teams and the worst 4 teams and analyzed their offseason moves with a slight tilt to how I feel they will do over the next season. Like most things with the NBA, I expect to have some comments that agree and disagree with my choices. I did, however, try to provide reasons for my choices, whether they needed them or not.

The C's

1) Miami Heat

The Heat are the obvious choice for best summer moves for obvious reasons. They ended up not only with the top free agent of the summer, but also added an All-Star forward/center and resigned their franchise player. The combination of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh form a frightening trio which has brought on record breaking predictions from analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who argued that they could break the Chicago Bull's 72 regular season wins and the Los Angeles Laker's 33 game winning streak. Although this seems like a bit of a stretch, the Heat will be better this year for a very simple reason: in 2009 the Heat, with only one good player (Wade) were fifth in the East, so it only makes sense that they will improve in the standings with just three good players.

Although a lot of focus is on the new big three, Miami has done a good job at signing some quality role players to surround James, Wade and Bosh. Mike Miller and Eddie House will provide good opportunities to stretch the floor, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Udonis Haslem and Juwan Howard can provide good veteran leadership while anchoring the play down low. It's not the best up and down line up in the league, but Pat Riley did an excellent job in filling out the roster with limited resources. I still feel like it's too early to make Miami the favorite to win the title this year, but there is no doubt that they won the summer sweepstakes with their offseason moves.

2) Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers once again were able to improve their team, even after they proved the past two seasons that they were the best in the league. The addition of Steve Blake will help ease the load on aging point guard Derek Fisher, and Matt Barnes will be a good energy guy off the bench. Even the signing of Theo Ratliff makes sense as a back up to the injury prone Andrew Bynum. Add on top of that the re-signing of Fisher, who often acts as the vocal leader on and off the court, with the retention of their main championship players (Bryant, Gasol, Artest and Odom) and 11-time champion coach Phil Jackson, and the Lakers look like the favorites to three-peat for the second time in less than ten years.

The biggest offseason move for the Lakers, however, was not made by them. Despite being the defending two-time champions, all the pressure and focus of the league has shifted from the onto the Miami Heat. This should allow the Lakers to quietly go about their business and make the Finals for the fourth straight season. Although I can't stand the Lakers, I have to say that they come in right behind the Heat for their offseason moves.

3) Chicago Bulls

Although the Bulls struck out on their main free agent targets this summer, they were still able to add about half the Jazz roster, which seems like quite an upgrade from last season. Gaining Carlos Boozer in place of Brad Miller should be a huge boost to their strength down low, whicle role players Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson, and Ronnie Brewer should be able to stretch the floor and benefit from the continued development of Derrick Rose. Add on returning guys Luol Deng and Joakim Noah (arguably the ugliest player in the NBA right now) and the Bull's summer moves should finally make them relevant again, although perhaps not to the degree that other writers are predicting.

4) Dallas Mavericks

Ok, so perhaps they made the cut because they're my favorite team, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban did have a productive summer. The biggest move by far was the re-signing of former MVP Dirk Nowitzki. Although he may not be at his former level of production, he still is the most important player on that roster and can stil put up great numbers. Dallas also locked up the center position by re-signing Brendan Haywood and trading away pretty much nothing for Tyson Chandler, who will soon be slamming down alley-oops from Jason Kidd. Although they continue to get older, these summer moves guarantee that Dallas will remain a challenger in the competitive West.

Honorable Mention - Boston Celtics

The 2010 runners-up were able to re-sign two of their big three (Paul Pierce and Ray Allen), two key bench players (Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels), and their coach, Doc Rivers, while only loosing Tony Allen to free agency. I'm not so sure how the two O'Neal's (Jermaine and Shaq) will do, but if they can play better than Rasheed Wallace did this past year, which shouldn't be too hard, then the signings will look brilliant.

The V's

1) Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers, like the Heat, are also an ovbious pick for their offseason moves, but for a completely different reason. Anytime the two-time defending MVP, hometown hero and supposed savior of your franchise calls a one hour TV special to announce that he is going to leave your team, you loose that offseason. As seen by all the reports of jersey burnings and violent threats, the departure of Lebron James was a huge deal both physically and emotionally to this franchise.

To make matters worse, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert sent off a tirade of a letter in which he claimed that the Cavs would win the championship before Lebron. How on earth is that going to happen when you loose your best player and fail to replace him with anyone even remotely as good? To be fair, Cleveland is not the worst team in the league and they do have some good players in Mo Williams, Antawan Jamison and Anthony Parker, but there is no way this team is making the playoffs after such a devastating offseason.

2) Toronto Raptors

The Raptors had a similar offseason as the Cavs, except that they lost both their best and second best players this summer (arguably Hedo Turkoglu was their second best player, even if he never played like he was). Although it wasn't a huge surprise that Chris Bosh decided to move on, it still severely damaged the franchise this summer, which has already lost other franchise players in past seasons. Now the Raptors are left with no team leader, overpaid role players like Amir Johnson, Linas Kleize and Leandro Barbosa, and young guys Sonny Weems, DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis. This summer has been so bad that even trade opportunities, like getting Tyson Chandler and Boris Diaw, fell through. Nothing seems to be going right for Toronto this offseason, which looks like it will bring on a long regular season.

3) Minnesota Timberwolves

Oh Minnesota. Nothing in the post-KG era seems to be going right for this franchise. Their biggest blunder this summer was loosing Al Jefferson for basically nothing, and trying to replace him with Darko Milicic and Michael Beasley. Not only is that going to backfire, but it will most likely continue to aggravate their already tenuous relationship with Kevin Love. On top of that they brought in guard Luke Ridnour despite already having guards Corey Brewer, Wayne Ellington, Johnny Flynn and Ricky Rubio (who will probably never join the team from Europe). Although they have been making lots of moves, it seems that it will be another woeful season for the Wolves.

4) New Jersey Nets

Despite having a new Billionaire Russian owner promising huge changes, this summer seems to be a huge bust. Not only did the Nets miss out on the Lebron sweepstakes, but they ended up missing out on every other big name free agent of the summer. The biggest name they were able to get was Troy Murphy in a trade with Indiana. Add that to the disappointing free agent signings of Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar and Sean May and the Nets may not be competing for many years to come.

Honorable Mention - Phoenix Suns

I'm still not competely sure on this one. On the one hand, the Suns smartly re-signed Channing Frye and got Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress, all of whom seem to fit perfectly into their style of play. On the other hand, they lost All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire, re-signed aging veteran Grant Hill and traded for disgruntled forward Hedo Turkoglu. Why would you trade for a guy who wanted the ball in his hands, when you still have one of the best point guards in Steve Nash? That seems like another bad experiment to me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Grey Nathan talks about favorite teams

I thought I would get things going by writing an actual article. I wrote it quickly, but I hope you enjoy and comment.

When I was really young and I first fell in love with the NBA, I didn’t really have a favorite team. I had favorite players. The first player I ever heard about was either Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’neal. One of the first games I remember watching was a Bulls game, on a Sunday afternoon on NBC. Michael Jordan was dismantling some other team and making it look so easy. I don’t know if the concept of favorites occurred to me back then, but if it did then Jordan was probably the choice. But as I became aware of his popularity, my interest in him decreased. For some reason or another, I was born with the ability to hate things solely because other people liked them. So as I began to realize how much Jordan was adored, my hatred for him grew to equal the public’s level of adoration. So I moved on. But I didn’t move far. Scottie Pippen became my man. Later I grew out of him and started replacing him with the new and exciting young players. The younger they were, the more I liked them. I bought a Kobe jersey when he was still 18. I practiced rolling off of invisible screens to catch backdoor alley-oops like Kevin Garnett. I looked up the rosters of every team because it listed the ages of the players; Tracy Mcrady was my favorite Raptor when he was averaging 5 minutes a game. Basically if a player was young I assumed he could dunk. And if he could dunk, he was exciting. That was all that mattered.

But my love of players eventually developed into a love of teams. Growing up in western Canada, I didn’t ever feel a sense of loyalty based on geography. We weren’t really close to any of the teams. So I stuck with the players. When I realized Kobe was a jerk, or when he became popular, I moved on.

As I grew up and came to understand the game a little better, I began to appreciate more than just huge dunks. I began to admire the way John Stockton and Karl Malone played the game. It wasn’t flashy, but it was beautiful. The Jazz became the perfect candidate for my favorite team. They were the good guys against Michael Jordan, the super villain of my childhood. But that didn’t last long. I didn’t really feel any sense of loyalty to them. I started liking them when they were already at the top, and probably would have liked any team that filled that role against Jordan’s Bulls. So what seems like a perfect match turned out to be only superficial.

It turns out the roots of my dedication to a specific team started long before I ever really realized it. And the reasons for my dedication seem much more shallow than my reasons for liking the Jazz. But despite seeming shallow, my reasons for true dedication are much more real than just supporting the current competition to Michael Jordan. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Sometime not long after seeing my first Bulls game, I remember watching a game, not on NBC, being announced by someone with a heavy accent who kept referring to his partner as “Cooz”. The team they were announcing for wore the most wonderful green jerseys. They weren’t fancy like Orlando’s or Houston’s. They didn’t have a cool logo. The only thing written on them was something I read as “keltics” (which, turns out, is how it’s probably supposed to be pronounced). I was in love. My whole life, my favorite color has been green. Not light green. Not dark green. Not forest green. Just green. And those jerseys were pure green – the definition of green.

From that point on, whenever I happened upon that higher cable station (which I guess was a Boston network), I found myself hoping the guys in green would win. Turns out I became a Celtics fan at the worst time possible. They were awful in the 90s. And they were a terrible team for someone like me who loved individual players. They didn’t have anyone. Come on Dana Baros and Dino Radja! But I loved them all the same. And while it seems strange to base a love for a team on the love of its color, it can work. It has worked for me through all these years.

Then in 1995 Canada got its first NBA teams. For some reason I loved Toronto and hated Vancouver. I guess my love for Jurassic Park outweighed my love for forest wildlife. It was the right choice. The Raptors have stuck around and gradually replaced the Celtics as my top favorite. This was for one reason: my patriotism. My love for Canada outweighs my love for green. But just barely. (A green maple leaf would make me lose my mind)

So why am I telling you all this? I wanted to make up a list of rules of being a true fan. I remember reading a Bill Simmons article about this a few years ago. I hope I don’t steal too much from him. But this is something I’ve thought about a lot, and I wanted to get my rules out there. And I hope this sparks some sort of discussion.

Rule 1: You can pick a favorite team for any reason at all

For me it was because Boston wore my favorite color. It could just as easily have been the Charlotte Hornets because the first basketball I ever had was one of those outdoor rubber ones, and it had the Charlotte hornet all over it. Or it could have been Phoenix because I loved using the password and playing as the Gorilla on NBA Jam. Any reason will do. And that brings me to the next rule

Rule 2: You must stick with that team no matter what

That means sticking with them when they’re terrible and when they’re awesome. Sometimes that’s hard for me. When they Celtics became good in 2008, and all the bandwagon jumpers jumped on board, it made it more difficult. But I was still excited. Also, Rule 1 and Rule 2 depend on each other. You can’t pick a favorite team for any reason if you’ve already become attached to one. But again, you must stick with that team through good times and bad.

Rule 3: You can only have one

I know. It seems like I’ve broken that rule. But this one is crucial for obeying rule 2. Having a few favorite teams seems like the best way to feel like a true fan of the current best team. But that’s cheating. That would involve breaking rule 2. You’d be leaving one team and jumping to another. You can’t do that. So how do I justify being a Celtics fan AND a Raptors fan? Easy. I use Exception 1: Geography. This could be controversial, but I feel like the only reason you can justify having 2 favorite teams is if you don’t live close to any of the teams. But the 2 favorite teams will never be on the same level. They have to play each other sometime and you have to root for one. For me, it was hard to choose between Boston and Toronto. Then they played each other and I couldn’t help but cheer for Toronto. But I think that also has something to do with how they’re not good, and Boston currently is.

Another exception is Exception 2: Steve Nash. This one means that anyone in Canada can claim to be a Suns fan while Steve Nash is there. Normally this would be bandwagon fanship (not a word, but you know what it means). But Canada has never had anyone that awesome, so it’s only fair. And even when he retires, no one in Canada has to pretend they still like the Suns. No one will admit it, but we all feel the same.

Well I thought I had more rules, but I can’t think of them now. And I want to get this posted. So let’s get some discussion going, and then in a little while maybe I’ll post an updated version.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Post...do I really need a different title?

Welcome to Patrick Ewing's Knee Pads, a place where multiple buddies discuss the NBA from their perspective. Right now, we have two authors: me/T-Wah (or The Luckiest David) and The Grey Nathan (TGN). I imagine we will probably have more in the future.

This blog has been a long time coming. As avid NBA fans, we spend most of our time together discussing the past, present, and future of the league. We decided that it was finally time to get these thoughts in writing (and not in the comments section of Facebook....I think we reached a good 87 comments, or so, at one time). We find ourselves making plenty of NBA predictions which tend to be more accurate than the "experts" of ESPN, or NBA.com. That's not to say that we don't spend every extra minute we have reading their articles and soaking up the latest league news. The title of this blog is a tribute to one of the many great historical icons of the NBA...plus it's funny. I've never written a blog, and I actually think they're usually stupid. If this ends up being stupid, then I guess we failed. Bye.