The Breakdown: Feeling lucky?
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Summit County, Colorado
There are very few times as sports fans where we ever get to feel truly lucky, feel that – for no feasible reason whatsoever – our team was handed a gift from the sporting gods, allowing them to achieve something remarkable.
Sure, you can get a few good bounces here or there, but, in all honesty, it seems that bad luck hits us all a little bit harder.
This may just be my inner Cub fan coming through. After all, being a Cubs’ fan right now is about as uplifting as being Shaquille O’Neal’s dietitian. I mean, it just feels like no matter how much you try or care nothing good is going to come; things are how they are.
(Related tangent: The only fanbase I feel worse for has to be the Cleveland Cavaliers. After years of misery, they think they’re finally getting to the promised land led by their own native son, only to have their title hopes derailed and the only thing that made their city relevant (LeBron James) about to skip town to join any one of a handful of teams that are actually much worse than the Cavs. That’s about as bad as it gets. Probably shouldn’t have brought it up.)
Anyway, being a fan of a bad team – or even just a mediocre one – can be one of the most excruciating things you could actively choose to go through.
And with the 24/7 sports media and countless “experts” telling you every second of every day just how bad your team is, there doesn’t seem to be anything worse than watching your squad go through a rough spell – especially one that is now 101 years long.
That is, except what the NBA did Tuesday night.
I’m not talking about the Celtics-Magic game, but rather what took place before it. You see, if you’re a fan of one of the 14 worst NBA teams (i.e. the ones that didn’t make the playoffs), you sat anxiously during the rapid-fire 6-minute stretch, where your team’s future was decided by a doof in a suit opening envelopes. And, of course, this all came without you or anyone on the team being able to do a darn thing about it.
I’m talking about the lottery – the event that tells fans of teams like the New Jersey Nets that not only are your boys terrible at hoops but they also stink at bingo.
What more could the NBA do to rub failure into the face of each of these 14 teams?
So, you sit through a 12-70 season as a Nets’ fan, and the only thing that truly gives you hope for the future is that you have a 25 percent chance of landing the top pick in the upcoming draft.
Then, you don’t get it. You don’t even get the second pick. Those went to Washington and Philadelphia.
Not only are you – by far – the worst team in the association, but you’ve now got little or no chance of turning it around quickly.
Let’s be realistic here, many drafts don’t have more than, say, two or three true franchise players in them. This year, maybe there’s one (John Wall), and that’s being generous. The Nets will probably be relegated to selecting Wall’s chubby running mate in Lexington, DeMarcus Cousins.
Sure, I’ve said before that I’m not a proponent of rewarding bad teams with high draft picks. After all, unless you’re a fan of one of those teams, all it does is strand good players with no help around them, setting them up for likely failure. Think of the NFL. Who knows the next time we’ll here the name Matthew Stafford in a sentence that isn’t: Wow, I feel bad for Matthew Stafford.
At the same time, though, the only thing worse that handing out the picks to bad teams is having it go completely to chance.
If you’re a Nets’ fan, you sit and watch all of this on TV, wondering if, for once, the sporting gods will grant you a gift. Instead, you get a punch to the crotch. Should they feel lucky it wasn’t to the face?
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