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I tell people I’m not watching the playoffs . . . but I watch anyway

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The inner struggle is coming to terms with the Spurs season ending.

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs, Game 1 Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The lights at the AT&T Center have been turned off. The hardwood has been stacked away. The lockers have been cleared out, and the players are on a well-deserved vacation.

The Spurs are done, and with them, I am done. At least, that’s what I say.

I do it every year. I watch every Spurs game throughout the season. In the years when they have made the playoffs, I watch their playoff games and some of the games between the two teams they could meet in the following round. As long as the Spurs continue to shine, I continue to watch. And when they are done, I turn off the TV for the rest of the season. Over. That’s it.

Except it’s not.

For some reason, my wife’s interest in basketball heightens with the post season, literally rising as mine drops. Compared to me, she is an casual watcher of basketball, and of television in general, for that matter. She can have the TV on in the background while working, cooking, or moving about the house. So she gets insight into the overall spectrum of the postseason. For some reason, this makes me purposely tune it out.

But inevitably at some point, I cannot pass by the TV idly anymore. I cannot ignore the points she making. And then I am watching. Then I am rooting. And then I am hooked.

Admittedly, I tend to be rooting against more than I am rooting for. It comes down to which team I dislike the least. I have often said there is an order to my fandom:

  • The Spurs are number one!
  • The other twenty-nine teams are are tied for my least favorite

That said, there will be a rooting against.

In 2015, I was rooting against the Cavaliers. LeBron had abandoned Miami after getting dismantled (by the Spurs!), he was attempting to put together a super-team, and he was dictating immediate changes. I thought he was a diva. By comparison, I respected Steve Kerr, their players were amazing, and they had built the team from the ground up.

In 2016, I rooted against the Golden State Warriors. They seemed a little too full of themselves, Draymond Green had a bad attitude, Stephan Curry had been lackluster in the previous Finals, so much so that he didn’t land the Finals MVP award. Meanwhile, LeBron’s 2015 Finals performance had single-handedly (no Kyrie Irving, no Kevin Love) kept the series interesting, and I thought he’d taken enough guff for the move back. I could accept a Cleveland win.

After the Warriors lost and pulled Kevin Durant into their fold, I was set on who to root against for the next three seasons.

Last season, I again turned on LeBron with his Hollywood build-a-team. I was rooting against the Lakers, taking solace in knowing a Miami win would validate “the little engine that could” in me.

I started this season rooting against the Brooklyn Nets, even before Fubsy Harden pushed his way out of Houston. There is no way I could ever root for those guys.

Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of holes in my theories and lack of evidence-based support, this is all gut. And, for better or worse, it does come from an “against you” philosophy.

So as for now, I am ignoring the TV. I am pretending not to care who makes the play-ins. I will avert my eyes to scores as the playoffs finally take off, knowing full well my wife will walk in one day very soon, and say, “did you catch the game last night? Oh, my gosh . . .”

And I’ll be glued to the TV until they crown the next champion. Probably rooting against them they whole time.


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