For years now, I've been a huge Boston Celtics fan.
It started when I moved to Pittsburgh and met a guy we'll call Frank. Frank was a huge Boston fan, and we became pretty good friends (I've since lost touch with the man). Having been a casual fan of the Celtics for years (I was screaming at my TV in 2002, when they came back from a 21-point deficit in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals), I decided to jump on the bandwagon.
Yeah, I've pretty much admitted in print that I'm a bandwagon fan. I've always appreciated Dennis Johnson (who should have been in the hall of fame years ago), and Lord knows I've always hated the Lakers. But c'mon, when I hopped on the bandwagon, it was the 2006-07 season. They were the victims of an 18-game losing streak. Nobody willingly jumps on the bandwagon of a losing team.
But I did, and at the time, I had no idea that the next few seasons would be much better than that 06-07 campaign. The Celtics went on to two Finals appearances, defeating the Lakers in 2008 and losing to them in 2010. I thought I could be an NBA fan for life. Sure, the 2010-11 season started off subpar, but the Celtics had Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo for the long haul: how could this team not improve?
But things slowly started getting ugly.
The seed of ugliness began to take root when the NBA failed to protect Seattle from losing the beloved Supersonics (a wonderful documentary about the Sonics can be found here) to Oklahoma City. It angers me to no end that a city could lose it's sports team because they won't give a millionaire owner tax dollars to build a new arena.
If you think that can't happen in your city, think again. The Supersonics were one of the most beloved teams of all time, and this move sets a horrible precedent: give sports teams your tax dollars or they're gone.
Only two owners voted against the move: Paul Allen (Portland Trailblazers) and Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks). The owner of my favorite team, the Celtics, voted for the move, showing a very gutless side. I've never been a big Seattle fan (although I do believe that Detlef Schrempf is the most underrated NBA player of all time), but you don't have to be a fan to see that millions of fans are being wronged.
So you can see, there's been a small part of me that has harbored anger and resentment toward the NBA for years now. I refuse to cheer for the Oklahoma City's basketball team, no matter who they're playing, even the hated Los Angeles Lakers.
That got put to the test this year. Boston, in all of it's "genius" decided to trade Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City. Kendrick Perkins! The source of the team's defensive toughness! The guy with a perpetual scowl! The guy who made the sign of the cross when I went to a Memphis-Boston game a few years ago. I loved Kendrick Perkins. A classy and extremely talented man.
Of all the guys to trade, they traded Perkins. Of all the teams to trade him too, they chose Oklahoma City.
I threw in the towel at that point. I could care less what happened the rest of the season. 'Maybe next year I'll feel better about it,' I told myself. They still had Rondo and Pierce, and maybe the new guys will step up. The 2011-12 NBA season would be fantastic! 82 games of fun!
Oh, that's right. There weren't 82 games this season. That's because the NBA owners and players couldn't agree on how to split billions of dollars. And instead of trying to get a collective bargaining agreement in place to save the season, they piddled around and games were lost. The NBA lockout cost the NBA it's preseason, all of November's games and probably 3/4 of December's games (The league and players announced an agreement that would give fans a 66-game season).
So those stadium workers, some working minimum wage, just lost two and a half month's of work because billionaires and millionaires couldn't agree on how to split huge profits. And I'm supposed to give them my hard-earned cash?
I'm now at a crossroads in my life. I'll be completely honest when I say that I haven't missed basketball. My schedule hasn't had any holes in it. I haven't sat down once and thought, "Wow I wish basketball was on." It's certainly not something I'd be willing to spend money on even if there wasn't a lockout.
I am angry. Starting with Seattle, then trading Perk, and now an NBA lockout. I just do not have it in me to still cheer for the Celtics, or anyone in the NBA right now. While everyone on my Twitter feed was rejoicing over the return of the NBA on Saturday, I couldn't be moved to any kind of joy.
I can safely say that I'm done with the NBA for good, after many months of thinking it over. I'll find other interests, I'll find other things to fill my time. Colin Cowherd on his ESPN radio show said it best: "Love your kids, like sports."
Being devoted to football, soccer and the WWE is a plenty-full sports schedule for any dad-to-be. When Lucy is born in a few months, I'll have even less time to devote to entertainment. It'll be a miracle if I find enough time for football and wrestling in the same week.
With that said, I thank the NBA for the many good memories they gave me, but will take this opportunity to bow out and say goodbye to it. I'll never say never when it comes to coming back, but the things that have transpired over the years would make any interest I have in the product a hollow one.
Now, if the Seattle Supersonics comes back...