Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The NBA is hopeless... and it doesn't care

The NBA season is one day old, and I am already prepared to confidently tell you:  The Washington Wizards will not win the championship this year.  They will not win the championship next year, either, nor the year after that, and so on.

Miami.  Oklahoma City.  L.A. (Lakers, then Clippers).  Denver.  Chicago with a healthy Derrick Rose.  Those are the championship contenders in the NBA right now.  That is all.

I'll grant an admiring honorable mention to San Antonio, Boston, Minnesota, and Memphis, all of them intriguing, all of them with fire and heart, and I love the passionate West Coast fans of Portland, Sacramento, and Golden State.  These are all bridesmaids, though, not true title threats.

All you want as a fan is hope.

I root for the Washington Redskins; Robert Griffin III gives me hope.  I root for the Washington Capitals; when the NHL returns, the Caps perpetually give me hope.  In baseball, I have assorted interests in the Detroit Tigers, the San Francisco Giants, the Washington Nationals, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Tampa Bay Rays; each of those teams gives me great hope, and then some.

I see no hope with the Washington Wizards.  I see no hope in the NBA.

Here's what we just saw in the completed Major League playoffs:
  • The team with the best record in the MLB, the Washington Nationals, came within one strike of knocking out the defending World Series champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, only to have the Cards conduct a heart-wrenching comeback.
  • One loss away from getting swept out of the playoffs in the first round, the gritty San Francisco Giants stormed back to win three straight games on the Cincinnati Reds' home turf -- and then conducted the feat again, winning three straight elimination games to knock out the Cardinals.
  • 40-year-old Raul Ibanez hit three different dramatic home runs, two to tie games in the ninth, one to win a game in the 12th, to shock the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers.
  • The New York Yankees' historically dominant lineup loaded with Hall of Famers was shut down by a remarkable Tigers pitching staff led by one of the all-time greats in Justin Verlander.
  • The underdog Giants roughed up the mighty Verlander and completed a mesmerizing four-game sweep of the Tigers to win the World Series title.

And all of that without mentioning the stirring Oakland Athletics, the most exciting first-round-and-out team ever.

The NBA wishes it could present such drama.

The 2012 Major League Baseball season delivered three different "Where did they come from?" teams in the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland Athletics, and Washington Nationals; two dangerous up and coming powerhouses in the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves; a team that boasted clearly the top position player and pitcher in the majors in the Detroit Tigers; two fading talent-rich juggernauts in the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers; and the eventual champions of them all, the San Francisco Giants.

For the NBA to experience such a bonanza, we'd need the New Orleans Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats to catch fire, the Miami Heat to show vulnerability, the Houston Rockets to take a major step forward, and we'd need several of the highest profiles favorites to fall on their faces and miss the postseason entirely, a la the Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, and Boston Red Sox.

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Here's why the NBA doesn't care:

1.  The Tigers/Giants World Series received historically low ratings.
2.  A Heat/Lakers NBA Finals would receive massive ratings.

Game, set, match.

As a fan of the doomed-to-fail Washington Wizards, the only power I have is combining with others to convince owner Ted Leonsis (and his fellow owners) that this system doesn't work.  As long as he thinks it does, the league will keep on keepin' on.

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