Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 NBA Finals Preview: Fight The Real Enemy!!!

They might turn this year’s NBA Finals into a battle of David vs. Goliath, of superstars vs. team chemistry, of the glamour and artifice of South Beach vs. the homespun, aw-shucks, apple-pie-and-Chevrolet integrity of “the real America.”  (I have no idea if they are trying to rally the whole country against LeBron James.  And in fact, I have no idea if there is a “they” anywhere.  But people continually whip the boogeyman called the media, so let’s say that the media is behind this possibly untrue fan relations campaign.)

However many people rally behind the Oklahoma City Thunder just so they can see the tentative narcissist James once again be denied the championship he skipped Cleveland for, don’t be one of those jumpers on the bandwagon.  First of all, The Decision will be two years old next month.  And second, yes, he is clueless and sometimes petulant, and prone to disappearing when his team could use his immeasurable talents to take over games and take out incredible players.  But he could be worse.

I mean, he could have stolen a team from a city.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Franchise relocation is the most underreported subject in the modern history of sports reporting.  Do you understand how taking a team can rip apart communities and plant seeds of mistrust and cynicism that will take decades to heal, if they heal at all?  And because of the bitter protestations of a brave few, the move of the Seattle SuperSonics rivals that of the Cleveland Browns as the rawest deal a sports community has ever endured.

Instead of rehashing the details, I will point you to this Deadspin article by Jeremy Repanich, a low-level Sonics employee who was there when the franchise reached the tipping point and became a squad that had to leave the home it had known for four decades.  He details the levels to which owner (and Starbucks founder and CEO) Howard Schultz tried to operate the organization on the cheap.  He confirms that Schultz was pissed off about not getting a new arena, so he took the first good offer for the team on the table.  And Repanich also illustrated the neglect new owner Clay Bennett showed the staff as he was secretly angling to move the team to his home base in Oklahoma, even as he was telling Seattleites that he wanted to keep the team there.

Unfortunately, Repanich chooses not to napalm all the guilty parties in this horrific move.  He rightfully excoriates Schultz for blindly taking the easy money as a way of getting the organization out of his personal books.  (So many locals see Schultz as the ultimate bad guy that I’m shocked the city hasn’t told him to move Starbucks world headquarters to Oklahoma City, too.)  Sadly, however, he ultimately kisses Clay Bennett’s ass for taking the SuperSonics away from Seattle because, unlike Schultz, he “cares about his product,” and besides, the truth is something “silly to expect from a sports owner, caveat emptor.”  Apparently, “Judas” Repanich thinks winning justifies tearing a basketball team from the city, state and region that loved it so much.  From the way he lets Bennett off the hook, I’m surprised he hasn’t followed him to OKC.

Add in the most important NBA Draft decision in recent history, when the Portland Trail Blazers had the first pick in the 2007 and chose to take the permanently injured Greg Oden so the Bastard Seattle SuperSonics could select Kevin Durant and the fact that the energy commissioner David Stern committed to keeping the team in Seattle wouldn’t power an Easy-Bake Oven, and basketball fans there are rightfully bitter knowing that the team that was stolen from them has a great chance of winning the NBA title that should be celebrated throughout the Emerald City.

One special raspberry goes to the uncouth jerks that are Thunder fans.  Maybe it’s the locality or red-state politics, but it doesn’t help the situation when they keep rubbing the move in SuperSonics fans’ faces, sneering at them and then telling them to get over it.  BS bullying like that is the reason why Bastard SuperSonics fans are just as culpable as Bennett in the theft of the team.  There’d be no reason to steal the team from the good folks in Seattle if people weren’t willing to shell out their oil money for replica Russell Westbrook jerseys.

So that’s why you should be rooting for the Heat: They’re not the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sure, you’ve got a superstar that seems to be all humble in Durant.  But really, all LeBron James did was find the best situation for him to get a championship, and he even took less money in order to put himself on a good roster.  That sacrifice is what we want in our superstars, don’t we?  Yet I know that Thunder fans will try and call LBJ cowardly and a chump, not even aware that a) they got a team partly because the league’s head honcho was doing a favor for a friend and b) they got so goddamn lucky “their” team hit the ground running with a guy who has all the makings of a Hall of Famer.  If this were an average situation, OKC would be struggling as any other small-market team.

As for the game … Bob Valvano of ESPN Radio said it best over the weekend: The Miami Heat is just like an Italian race car.  They may have to go into the shop frequently, but when it’s at its best, my God, it can just go.  The same holds true for the Heat, whose best is better than the Thunder’s best.

But when will that best come out?  The Thunder has two key advantages right now, depth and health.  They also have big-time playoff experience because Westbrook’s backup at the point is Derek Fisher, who’s so loved by Bastard Minneapolis Lakers fans that they’ve practically adopted the Thunder as their second home team.  (Fans of one stolen team being friends with fans of another?  Seems apt.)

Best-case scenario for the Heat: Bosh is 100% and gives Miami the inside presence to get physical with the Bastard SuperSonics; James completely suffocates Durant the whole series; Westbrook and James Harden will see the Durant lockdown and immediately start jacking up bad shots to try and win without his usual contribution; and role players like Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller contribute role player stats at home.  Oh, and the referees still recognize the NBA hierarchy when it comes to calling games (that is, Durant doesn’t get a ring until James does).

Worst-case scenario for the Heat: Bosh is not 100%, thus allowing Serge Ibaka to go all beast mode on Miami down low; Thunder players shoot the lights out; Durant finally asserts his role on the team – “I’m the man, give me the damn ball!”; the injury bug even hits Dwyane Wade, who has to sit out potential close-out games due to an undisclosed injury; and James is humbled by another NBA Finals defeat.

I had the Thunder and the Heat playing in the NBA Finals when the season began, and so I won’t deviate from my pick to win this series, unfortunately.  Miami has demonstrated they have the power to overwhelm other teams, but it seems as if conditions have to be just right for the Heat to flourish.  And playing four of the possible seven games in Oklahoma City seems far from ideal.

The Bastard Seattle SuperSonics will win the NBA title because they have the most unselfish starting five and they have a deep bench.  But the real reason they will win is because bad things happen in real life, and people sometimes don’t get what they deserve – be it LeBron James or every single person who associates with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

NBA Finals Prediction: Oklahoma City in 6.

Posted by WilliamSou at 2:38 AM


WilliamSou said: SportsBLOG comment spacer

Whatever Anonymous. So glad I was wrong and that you're bastard team got spanked by LeBron!

Anonymous said: SportsBLOG comment spacer

William, go watch the fucking Mariners and quit whining. We adopted the bastards because Mr. Starbucks didn't want them. OKC ya later Seattle. lol

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