I used to love the NBA. In grade school, growing up in Illinois I was obviously a huge Chicago Bulls fan. In high school I would watch late West Coast games while I fell asleep at night in my midwest town. I loved watching the Supersonics play in the years of Payton and Kemp. In college I didn’t really have that much time to waste on watching sports and in the past 10 years I’ve almost completely lost interest in the NBA. I usually start to tune in around the NBA Finals. After I moved to Portland I tried to rekindle an interest in the NBA and root for the local Blazers. But that was short lived. It’s a problem of motivation.
What frustrates me about the NBA and that is unique compared to any other professional sport is that you can easily name 2 or 3 teams at the beginning of the season that have the best shot at winning the title and one of those teams will always win. There’s such a steep drop off between teams that are contenders and everyone else. What’s the point? Has the NBA always been this way? Probably. But it took me some time to wake up and realize it.
In MLB you never really know who is going to win. Of course there are favorites. But this year the favorites were the Yankees, Nationals, and Rangers. Did anyone actually pick the Cardinals to win last year? How about the Giants the year before that? (or even this year!) Of course not! It’s unpredictable. It depends on what team puts it together at the right time. That’s what makes baseball so much fun. It’s the same with NFL. Did anyone seriously go into the preseason last year thinking the Giants would win? Of course not. Any team could win on any given day. Again, it’s the relative unpredictability that makes it exciting.
But that level of unpredictability simply doesn’t exist in the NBA. Look at the predictions by sports analysts and talking head on ESPN. Doesn’t take a genius to realize either the Lakers or Heat are going to win this year. And so what’s my motivation for taking this league seriously? Why would I waste my time to see one of two teams almost certainly win it?
Take a look at the results in the last 14 years:
1999 – San Antonio Spurs
2000 – LA Lakers
2001 – LA Lakers
2002 – LA Lakers
2003 – San Antonio Spurs
2004 – LA Lakers
2005 – San Antonio Spurs
2006 – Miami Heat
2007 – San Antonio Spurs
2008 – Boston Celtics
2009 – LA Lakers
2010 – LA Lakers
2011 – Dallas Mavericks
2012 – Miami Heat
Any real surprises on there in those respective years if you were paying attention? Of course not.
*I know some of you are thinking, then how can you root for the Cubs? And to be honest, other than the first two weeks of the season, I don’t watch them stink it up either! Life is too precious to waste that much time in watching a bad team. But the MLB playoffs are fantastic and exciting!