The most commented-upon posts in our blog’s brief history are the 2009 and 2010 NBA Playoffs Readers Forums. (Last year’s post had 170 comments, on topics as diverse as Scott Hastings’ Shoe Cam, Yoda’s age, T-shirts you regret buying and whether or not Mike Breen’s eyes are actually located in his colon. Plus there were some diarrhea jokes. Good times all around.) This is in part because the playoffs stretch on for two months (or what feels to Erin like two bazillion years). This is also because Scott Guldin and Denys “Yellow Thunder” Lai are devoted readers and diehard NBA fans, while Matthew Leathers cannot stop rambling on about the Vancouver Canucks.
What’s different about the 2011 NBA Playoffs is that my (Ben’s) beloved Utah Jazz are not in them. It’s been five years since Utah missed the postseason. It did so in stunningly self-immolating fashion. First Jerry Sloan left, then Deron Williams was traded, then — in a perfect summation of the way things went this year — Andrei Kirilenko and his expiring contract missed a layup.
What do Utah Jazz fans do with all this free time in April, you ask? Answer: Photoshop. (To appreciate the humor here, you should know that the theme is “Gone Fishing.”)
What else do we do? Find a new horse. Because I can’t not obsessively follow the NBA, watching a postseason without Utah is usually an exercise in rooting against teams (i.e., the Lakers, Spurs, Heat, etc.). This year, though, I’m pulling for two teams: the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ve previously written about my change of heart with regard to Chicago. The Thunder are just a likable bunch. They’ll run the Spurs out of town in the second round and maybe, just maybe, take down the Lakers in the Conference Finals.
My preseason prediction was the Lakers over the Celtics in the Finals. My head says I should stick with that. My heart says it’ll be a Bulls/Thunder championship, with MVP Derrick Rose delivering Chicago its first post-MJ title. If it doesn’t happen, Scott Guldin will say I jinxed it. Believe me, Scott — this is not a latent desire to avenge Utah’s Finals losses, or the time you made me wear a Bulls shirt into Peirce. I hate everyone else in the East. Everyone. Plus your Bulls are practically Utah East, what with Boozer, Brewer and Korver. (I’m here for you anytime you need to talk about Boozer’s maddeningly inconsistent postseason play. I’ve been there. It’s not easy.)
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Go Bulls! And Thunder!