As the NBA Playoffs have forged into the Conference Semifinals, as an avid fan of the game I have found myself torn with potential Conference Finals matchups. Furthermore, many people have accused me of not being a true fan for the fact that I often like to root for different players or teams every season.
Well, this is only somewhat true. I have lived in Boston since I was just two years old, and naturally I am a fan of everything Boston/New England. You name it, I love it. Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, B.C. Eagles. I even root for those teams that few Americans probably even know exist. I'm talking about the Revolution (MLS) and the Cannons (MLL).
But back to the NBA Playoffs. As for the Celtics, I have lived in agony the past few years watching the Celtics go nowhere in the playoffs, get poor draft selections, and eventually post one of the most memorably awful seasons in recent memory in the 2006-2007 campaign.
All the while, I remained faithful to the Celtics and the lucky leprechaun that is rumored to reside beneath the parquet in the Boston Garden. This season, however, my patience has been rewarded after the Celtics' revamped star-studded lineup making the best turnaround in NBA history.
Needless to say, I love watching Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen collaborate and receive team success. I love watching the growth of PG Rajon Rondo, who by the way posted a terrific 20-point, 13-assist, 1-turnover game in a crucial Game Five against Cleveland. Clearly, the Celtics are a favorite to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and my personal favorite (I'm hoping) to win the whole shebang.
Besides the Celtics, I also enjoy watching Deron Williams and Chris Paul emerge as the elite point guards in the NBA right before our eyes. I grimaced as I saw Chauncey Billups injure himself in the Orlando series, because he, too, is a personal favorite player of mine.
Finally, Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker round out my list of players who I find constantly delivering jaw-dropping plays that make me question the natural laws of physics. When watching regular season games, I cheer for all those players to have great games, and ultimately record a win when all is said and done.
However, as all of these players, and the Celtics, remain in the playoffs, I find it increasingly hard to decide who to root for. I have been accused of being an indecisive, bandwagon fan because I like players who are at the moment having great success.
I disagree. While it is true that the players who grace my list of personal favorites are all having extraordinary seasons, there are additional reasons I enjoy them. I like to look at athletes as people. Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul are one and one-A on my list of favorites because of their extraordinary play AND because of how they carry themselves. Demeanor and presence can go a long way in deciding which players or teams to follow.
So as the Conference Finals roll around, I once again find myself being an "indecisive fan," not knowing who to root for. Should the West come down to the Hornets and Lakers, I will be extremely torn, because I would love to see Paul get a title, but I would also love to see Bryant get a title without Shaq.
At the same time, I want the Celtics to win a championship and return to prominence atop the NBA's elite.