I suppose I am exposing myself to pity in that I didn’t properly ‘appreciate greatness’, but I don’t think I watched more than the equivalent of two Golden State Warriors games this year. Now, some of that was due to late games, and The Bulls being such a chore it made me want to watch anything besides basketball otherwise, but the regular season kind of just came and went. I half-watched Game 1 of The Finals and saw highlights of the rest (including the excruciating final several minutes of Game 3), figuring that if the series got competitive again I’d jump back in, but otherwise following along would be a time-waster.
Sports works as entertainment in part because of unpredictability and competition, and both aspects were taken away from this season the moment last summer when Kevin Durant joined a 73-win team that was a goofy suspension away from winning two straight titles. And yes, it was a degree of ‘super’ more than any other instance of super-teaming. Is there a hypocrisy coming from someone who grew up on The Bulls Dynasty? I don’t know, how about you write a blog about it.
Now am I getting mad online over it? Maybe a little! I know better than to ‘be upset’ at Durant for switching jobs else incur the wrath of ‘liberated fandom’. I’d argue that it’s not the same as other job-switching because of the competition aspect of sports, and instead hoped Durant broke his foot again for a gain in my own personal interest in the league and maybe fun of the irony seen in cherry-picking a title team only to not be able to follow through. But it happened, it’s over. And, holy crap, maybe the only thing more boring than this year’s playoffs would be arguing over Kevin Durant’s legacy, a truly great player before and after this season, to where the lack of a difference shows how hollow this title run actually was.
And should we instead be ‘mad’ at the NBA or its other teams for facilitating such a series of transactions to construct this Warriors team? That’d arguably be more appropriate, but also harder to change. I’ll instead just pick on Durant. It’s irrational, but so is fandom. The un-liberated kind.
Speaking of irrational fandom, how about those Bulls? It’s stunning, really, to even consider them in the same league as Golden State. I recognize the transitive property of the NBA doesn’t hold (else the #TNTBulls would be popping champagne last night), but this Bulls team was so much worse than the Celtics (ok, a bit more like even with contract-Rondo), who were so much worse than the Cavaliers, who were so much worse than the Warriors, I mean: we know whatever the Bulls plans are this season they’re ultimately pointless due to the bind that their continued incompetence has placed them, but it looks even more daunting when trying to step back and look at the big picture.
The Bulls may think this way too, especially a professed self-professed loser like John Paxson, who’ll insist “it’s too difficult” and just punt a few seasons because there’s no real path to a title while Durant+Curry and the rest of a versatile historically-great-shooting team remains together.
But they shouldn’t have this mindset, and I’ll try not to as well. Just don’t think of the big picture! Try and improve the team because that’s what should be done, try and be better than most of the crappy Eastern Conference that they’re blessed into previously deluding themselves into contention before. Try. (But, like, with smart and sustainable moves and not signing guys like Rondo and Wade, lol.) On the one hand, anything can happen like LeBron jumping conferences or some other injury. On the other, nothing can happen as Golden State has a firm grip on title contention and the Bulls are so far away from relevance.
But if The Bulls at least try to counteract the depression and boredom that Durant’s decision unleashed with actual interesting moves and an interesting team, I’ll try in turn by emotionally investing in their success, meager as it may be. The alternative, just figuring nothing matters because they can’t compete for a title anytime soon (a rings-or-bust mindset that in part drove this Durant-Warriors thing), seems about as appealing as this year’s playoffs.