You HAVE to watch this season’s Western Conference playoffs. HAVE to. Even if you haven’t watched a second of an NBA game since Jordan hit his shot against the Jazz–you still need to watch this season’s NBA Western Conference playoffs.

There are more good teams this year than there have ever been in the league. You could also make the case that there are more superstars this season than any other in league history. It is really unbelievable.

I think the Lakers have what it takes to win the whole thing, and a first-round series between them and the Nuggets would be as exciting as any first-round series.

Even the Mavericks, who clinched the 7-seed yesterday, are looking strong. Luckily my blog that I wrote last week worked. That was really just a reverse jinx, no way do I really want the Mavs to lose…. And if they play the Hornets in the first-round, the Mavericks could win. Even a series against the Spurs looks almost winnable.

I suggest drawing up a bracket, march madness style, and bet money on it. That will make it even more exciting.

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Before I tell you why I am a terrible Mavs fan, let me explain something. I have followed this team my entire life. I went to games back when Jason Kidd played for the Mavs. Wait, I mean back when Jason Kidd originally played for the Mavs. However, with the Mavericks dangling on the edge of not making the playoffs, I find myself doing something I never thought I would ever do: I am cheering for them to lose.

I know, who am I? I am cheering for a team that currently is in the middle of a playoff race to lose enough games that it misses the dance. While this may sound crazy to a lot of people, especially fans of teams that aren’t close to making the playoffs, I do have my reasons for this insane turn of events.

First, there is no way that the Mavericks could win a first-round playoff series against any of the teams they would likely meet. If they face the Hornets, done. Lakers, see ya. Spurs, don’t kid yourself. Even the Rockets would beat the Mavericks in the first round and T-Mac has never won a first-round series in his life. I don’t know if I could handle another early exit by the Mavs, considering last year’s debacle.

The main reason, though, is the future is brighter for this team if it misses the playoffs. One, the only way that the Mavericks would have a first-round pick in the NBA draft is if it is in the lottery because of the Kidd trade. So, if the Mavericks lose in the playoffs, they don’t get a draft pick either. If they don’t make the playoffs, they at least get the 14th pick in the draft. Hello Ty Lawson! Lawson would make a perfect understudy to Jason Kidd and would allow Mavs fans forget about Devin Harris for a while. Furthermore, Mark Cuban would not let his team miss the playoffs and then not make drastic offseason moves. A good shakeup is exactly what the Mavericks need. Whether that is firing Avery Johnson and bringing in a coach who can utilize Kidd and Dirk more effectively in a half-court set, or if it is making another big trade to bring in another scorer, anything now could be an improvement.

Don’t crucify me yet and don’t question my fanhood. I am only saying that the Mavs and their fans may actually be better off missing the playoffs this year. Considering the disappointments that the playoffs have meant for Dallas fans of all sports, maybe taking one off wouldn’t be that bad of an idea. I foresee fewer broken remote controls and healthier marriages in Dallas could also be a byproduct of this situation.

Let me just say thank you to the Celtics, Cavaliers and Pistons. Without you actually playing basketball, the Eastern Conference would be completely devoid of any real teams. The Hawks might make the playoffs this year, and having gone to several Atlanta home games, I know they don’t deserve it.

The Harlem Globetrotters could make the playoffs in the East. I mean if they played NBA teams. With their current record they would be the one seed, but they play the same team every game. If they played NBA teams, and didn’t put confetti in a water bucket and fake out the crowd in the second half, they might win enough games to see post-season action. It really is a basketball wasteland out East.

The Heat, Bobcats and Knicks should be treated like English soccer teams. Whoever finishes last this year has to play next season in the D-league. Relegation works across the pond, so why can’t it work here. Baseball should do the same thing, but that is another blog.

David Stern should do something. He needs to step up and tell the Knicks that if they finish in the lottery, they will be disbanded and have to start over. Or, at least, he will force Isiah Thomas to be fired. Either way, it is a win-win for Knicks fans. Thomas will coach harder and the players will play harder (read: play), or they get all new players, except David Lee and Nate Robinson, who Knick fans love.

The Heat should be ashamed of themselves. Why did they build around a core of aging players and guys that nobody wanted (Ricky Davis, J Williams). You have D-Wade! Give him a three point shooter, a young big man and a decent small forward and you have the East’s version of the Lakers. Marion will help. If they get Michael Beasely, that will help too. If Pat Riley remembers that basketball is a sport that is meant to be played while running, that will help too. Bring Showtime to Miami, Pat.

I’m giving the Bobcats a pass for one more year because they are new. Please draft a player that can play next year. Morrison and Okafor were both average to below average draft picks. If the ‘Cats could swing Rose from MemphisU that would help. 

If you have any more suggestions for the worst conference in the history of American team sports (excluding WAC football), make a comment.

News Flash: Kobe Is MVP

March 5, 2008

I don’t want to hear any more talk about any other player winning the MVP award. After watching Kobe’s 52 against the Mavs, I’m a believer. He is either the best human basketball player in the league, or some kind of space creature teaching us how to play a new type of basketball.

Lebron is the only other player in the conversation, and he is not even in the same building as Bryant. I love Lebron, so don’t call me Skip Bayless or anything. it is just that Lebron is not the defensive player that Kobe is, and Bron Bron makes his living in the Eastern Conference, which means he plays the Bobcats and Knicks a bunch of times.

I know what you might be thinking: Kobe’s team is WAY better than Lebron’s. That might be, but Bryant is the glue that keeps it together. He is the reason the Lakers are so good. That team was good before Gasol. Don’t say Bynum and Luke Walton are the keys to Bryant’s success because that’s ridiculous. The man has a different gear than most players. Lebron is starting to get it too. They just come alive in the fourth quarter or when the game is on the line. Kobe still has the edge because he gets crazy stops on defense and can nail cold-blooded threes all day.

The only player I remember that was as ruthless and cold-blooded as Kobe was Jordan. Whether or not Kobe is better is tough to say because it is a different league now. What is eerily similar about the two is the way they get their teammates excited about the game, or maybe they get them scared to not screw it up. Either way, both are master motivators and nobody enjoys making another team lose more. It isn’t that Kobe wants to win, it’s that he wants everyone else to lose. That’s what makes him different, it’s what made Jordan different too. It’s why Kobe is the Most Valuable Player in the league today.

Who is this team? Some games they look like a force with D.Howard being the next Moses Malone. Other games they look like they are just a mediocre Eastern Conference team. Today they beat the Celtics on an improbable last-second three, hit by Hedo Turkoglu — who played like an awesome Tony Kukoc — and looked unstoppable. I wonder how long this will last.

This is one of the streakiest teams in the league, so I will wait and see before I call them a contender, but if they can play like they did today in the playoffs, this team will be scary. Currently, I don’t see them beating the C’s in a seven game series. They could, however, beat any other Eastern conference team other than possibly Detroit.

If Howard continues to play like a man possessed, the Magic will be just that. Look for at least a second-round playoff series with them in it. If they catch the Pistons sleeping, look for them to face the Celtics in the Eastern conference finals. That is, however, if the Magic don’t fall apart in front of us, which I think is also a possibility, given their youth.

Wow! When I miss, I miss big. If you read my NBA preview, you will notice that I did not have many good things to say about the Lakers. Now I would like to take back all the things that I previously said, or thought about the Fighting Kobes.

Andrew Bynum has come on to be a force. He is now one of the top centers in the West. If he continues to play like a young Hakeem, the Lakers will be the team to beat in a few years. This year, I would not be surprised if they make it super far in the playoffs. If they were to make the finals, it would not startle me.

Luke Walton is becoming a vital role player for them and is learning to be more of a passer. His ability to find open cutters makes him useful when playing good defensive teams like the Spurs. Jordan Farmar and Derrick Fisher give Kobe players he can trust at the Point.

There is no chance that we will hear Kobe ask for a trade again any time soon. This young, talented team is exactly what he wanted. They are impressionable enough that he will still be the leader, but he trusts them enough to not have to take every shot. This is the team that could challenge the Spurs for Western dominance.