So, the Raptors are out of the playoffs and I’m slowly getting over my bitterness and frustration with another season without home town playoff basketball. I’ve been settling in to watch the Celtics-Heat series and have been flipping through the rest of the series’ on The Score when I can.
As a Raptor fan my allegiance is, and always will be, to the Raptors. Therefore it is hard to decide who to cheer for this playoff season. Who is a Raptor fan to cheer for?
Now don’t get me wrong, I love basketball. I will watch two teams I absolutely despise play in a playoff series. The NBA playoffs, much like the NHL playoffs, are a completely different game. Every possession becomes important. Every timeout is thought through. Players begin rivalries that last for two weeks. The intensity in the area from the fans and players is an unreal thing to bear witness to.
But who to cheer for?
What team is going to give me some satisfaction by winning it all?
What team do I want to see walk away with a championship?
I thought about this dilemma long and hard and started at the top, with the most likely finalists: The Cavs and Lakers. There are elements of both of these teams that I love. Kobe and Lebron are, obviously, a good place to start looking. They are the two best players in the NBA bar none and can change a game on a dime. However, I am one of those fans that cheers for the underdog. Neither of these teams fit that description. As much as I’d love to see the Laker dynasty take another one or watch Lebron, Jamario and Anthony Parker win their first. I just don’t think I like their team enough. Will I watch them? Absolutely. With pleasure. But I don’t want them to win that much.
What about Orlando? A great young team with some fantastic pieces. Dwight Howard deserves a ring. He is a monster and every bit a star player. A championship calibre player. The problem I have with Orlando is Vince. Part of me wants to see him win a ring and the other part wants to see him fail. I’m like the characters from the old Mini-Wheats commercial. The Magic have a real shot, that cannot be denied, but I would both love and hate every possession. Too torn on Orlando.
There are the Celtics? Nope. No way. I hate the Celtics more than any team in the NBA. In fact, whoever they play will become my new favourite team. Garnett has become a prima donna and I can’t take any team seriously that has “Big Baby” getting into the faces of other teams. No to the Celtics. 110%
The Bulls beat my Raptors and I’m still not over it.
Milwaukee has a great young player in Brandon Jennings, but they just don’t do it for me. Without Bogut they are dead in the water anyway.
The Bobcats helped the Bulls get into the playoffs. I hold grudges.
Miami has Wade and O’neal who I love as well as Canadian Joel Anthony and they are playing the Celtics who, as we know, I despise. They will also likely try to steal Bosh in the off-season and for that reason alone are not a team I can cheer for. They’ve already won recently and don’t need the win as badly as other teams. Close, but not the team I will cheer for.
The Eastern team I’d like to see in the Finals is the Atlanta Hawks. They have one of the best young lineups in the NBA. All of their players play hard and there isn’t a player on that team I can dislike. They’re a team that could surprise a lot of people. Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson are two of the best leaders in the NBA. Josh Smith and Marvin Williams are two of the most exciting young players in the game and Al Horford is going to be a dominant player in the league. They’re likeable, exciting to watch and are well coached.
In the Western Conference, we’ve already discussed the Lakers. They will, most likely, take the championship spot in the West, but I want to cheer for someone different. Someone that hasn’t won.
What about the Thunder? In a couple of years we are all going to be talking about how 2010 was the year the Thunder came of age. They are not ready yet and, more than likely, won’t get past the first round. This young team is gaining some playoff experience. This is the first year of many this team will be battling for the prize. Soon, this will be the team to beat in the NBA. Mark my words.
The Jazz are not an exciting team. Deron Williams is, but after that not much in the way of excitement. Unless you count Andrea Kirilenko as exciting. Plus I still can’t forgive Carlos Boozer for the way he left Cleveland. I hold grudges remember?
The Nuggets would be the scariest looking champions of all-time. For that reason alone they are enticing. I just can’t get behind them yet. Maybe a few Billups daggers will get me going.
The Mavs are fantastic on paper and their owner is a whole lot more entertaining that the Teachers’ Pension Plan but Big D just isn’t for me either.
Neither is Portland. A great looking young team, much like the Hawks, but no Roy equals no chance.
San Antonio is still plugging away, but they’re looking old and tired and not cheer worthy.
The Western team of choice is the Phoenix Suns. Steve Nash is a Canadian. check. He is a very unselfish basketball player that makes others around him better. Check. He can control a game like no other. Check. He makes Jason Richardson, Channing Frye and Grant Hill look like All-Stars. Check Mate.
Phoenix deserves a shot. They ‘re a likeable team and definitely one that you can cheer for. Plus they are underdogs.
If it’s not going to be the Raptors, Go Suns and Go Hawks!
Let the second season begin!***
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald