An Open Letter to Delusional NBA Fans: Your Team Lost, Deal with It
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On Sunday, the Miami Heat won a hard fought game against the Indiana Pacers.
It was a crucial win for the Heat, who had lost two in a row and were playing without one-third of their "big three," in power forward Chris Bosh.
The game, which Indiana entered looking to put the Heat in a deep 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven playoff series, turned into a showcase for the two remaining members of the "big three."
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were absolutely spectacular on Sunday. You really shouldn't have to be a Heat fan to appreciate what was witnessed on the court. Even if you weren't rooting for Miami, the performances of Wade and James were memorable for their overall dominance.
Unfortunately, many NBA fans seem to have given up on actually enjoying the game which when played well is a thing of beauty. Instead these fans just express anger.
Here's the thing that is both fantastic and also difficult about rooting for teams and following sports passionately.
Every single contest between two teams, regardless of whether those two teams are playing each other in a youth league, NCAA contest or NBA Finals has both a winner and a loser.
When it comes to winning a Championship, it's really a zero sum game. There are 30 NBA teams, 29 end their seasons with a loss. That's how it goes. It is, in fact, the remote chance of winning a Championship that makes the win so very special if, and when it does happen. It's great.
As a fan I can personally attest to how fantastic it is. As a player or employee of a team I can't but it seems fairly clear that winning titles is one of the preeminent goals of nearly every professional athlete.
When your team losses it's disappointing, frustrating and at times, heartbreaking. It's also in nearly every case your team's fault.
That doesn't mean you should be angry at your team. It just means that as a fan you should probably realize that the team you are emotionally invested in is not perfect. They will make mistakes, the other team will make some plays, and the results are that your team will come up short.
Here's who is almost never at fault.
The officials. Placing the lions share of blame on the refs is one of the most irrational things that fans do.
I've live blogged a fair amount of games for Bleacher Report. I've also attended a ton of sporting events, sat next to numerous fans, read lots of comment threads and of course also listened to some sports radio.
Every team has fans who think every loss is the officials fault. Sorry, it's not the case. The Miami-Indiana matchup was a well officiated contest. There were some missed calls. Some went against the Heat, some went against the Pacers.
If you're looking for a real, actual tangible reason that the Pacers lost try this on for size. The Pacers got out-rebounded by a team that was missing it's starting power forward.
The Pacers forced turnovers, got good looks at the basket, and then failed to convert those looks into points, during a first quarter run in which their lead never grew bigger than nine points.
David West, Paul George, Leandro Barbosa, and George Hill shot a combined 12 of 38 from the floor. That's 31.5 percent. That's not going to win you too many games.
That added to the fact that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were absolutely amazing is why the Pacers lost. The refs? Please. This was hardly a poorly officiated game.
Don't get mad Pacers fans. When the Heat were losing the previous two games it wasn't because the refs were allowing the Pacers to get away with thuggery. The Pacers won those games fair and square and then lost on Sunday. There's no grand conspiracy between David Stern and the NBA. Want proof?
Watch a Spurs game. The San Antonio Spurs play in one of the NBA's not-so-attractive media markets. It's not tiny but it's certainly not Los Angeles, New York, Chicago or Houston. Those are the four largest media markets in the country.
The Bulls, Rockets and Knicks have won a combined zero NBA titles since 1998. They've also played in zero NBA Finals. Not one game.
If there's a grand conspiracy to insure the NBA's most successful teams are in the nation's biggest markets then it's being very poorly executed.
Every year there are thousands of NBA games played. In every game there are some good calls, and some bad calls. On occasion a bad call will really stand out, and actually alter the course or outcome of a game. A "bad call" is not a call you don't like. It's a call that is made in error.
Last Monday night, the Celtics and 76ers met in game two of their best-of-seven series. With under twenty seconds left, Kevin Garnett was called for an offensive foul, a moving screen. Tough call, bad time for that call to happen, and it was still the right call.
You can watch it on replay. Garnett sets the screen, then as Andre Iguodala tries to fight around it Garnett doesn't just move, he extends his arm to block Iguodala's path.
That's a moving screen Celtics fans.
Refs don't catch every moving screen made, just like in the NFL every hold isn't always seen by the refs. Garnett committed that foul right in front of the official. I'd have been shocked if it had not been called and I'm a Celtics fan.
I didn't like the call, I certainly wasn't happy with the results of the game but the amazing thing about that game was that the Celtics, like the Pacers shot the ball terribly.
Funny how when a team shoots terribly the refs cost them the game.
Then there's the superstar conspiracy theory that basically says the NBA somehow insures it's stars get special treatment.
With the exception of this rookie season, LeBron James has averaged between 27 and 31 points per game every season. When did this special treatment start? When is this agreed to? Is there a secret meeting of refs, coaches and executives who all get together and discuss which stars get special treatment and under what circumstances that treatment is doled out?
If this sounds absurd it's because it is. Basketball is a fantastic sport. The NBA is a pretty entertaining sports league. Enjoy the games and then, when your team losses, try and emulate the qualities you respect in the players you root for so passionately. The majority of players when asked about losses will give the opposition plenty of credit, they'll own up to a mistake or two and discuss the need to work hard and try to win again next season.
They don't blast the refs or call the other team punks or far worse. Sports should be fun, they should be an escape from the more mundane aspects of life. Teams win and teams lose. The refs? Let the players worry about them, in the end the good and bad calls all even out anyway.
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