In NBA circles, the "hater" label gets tossed around pretty liberally these days.
Think the Knicks have legitimate questions to answer about their power forward rotation? You're a hater.
Doubt the Dallas Mavericks can organize a less-than-embarrassing defensive effort with Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon in the backcourt? You, sir, are a hater.
Dare to claim that fans of the Los Angeles Lakers are fooling themselves when they talk about championship aspirations? Yep, you're a hater, too.
This unbending, myopic symptom of fandom is precisely the reason we're heading into the 2013-14 NBA season with what seems like an inordinate number of overrated teams. There's just no room for criticism or realistic nitpicking anymore.
But the truth is that there are a number of teams that are bound to come up short of expectations this season. Some will be exposed as phony championship contenders, while others will fail to meet more modest goals.
The "hater" barbs are sure to follow, but somebody's got to inject a little reality into the NBA picture before the season kicks off.