After more than a year at this blogowebpage, I'm starting to feel like I can assign specific adjectives to some of the writers we most frequently critique. When I think Mariotti, I think "ignorant." When I think Simmons, I think "obnoxious." And when I think Jemele Hill, it gets simpler: I think bad. She's terrible. She's just... fucking awful. I'm not linking the article. It's her most recent as of Sunday night.
More than a week has passed since the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship, and I've been patiently waiting for someone to point out the obvious.
Well, you're the sportswriter with the national audience. Maybe some dude in a bar in North Dakota made whatever point you're looking for, but it's unlikely more than six people heard him. Why don't you go out on a limb and take care of this big announcement yourself?
Fine, let me be the bearer of bad news.
Great. Glad you finally gave in.
The Western Conference is overrated.That's it? That's your big point? Let's count the ways in which that is dumb and/or wrong.
1) Arguments about which conference/league/division is tougher or better than its counterparts are lame and pointless to begin with except in very special circumstances. (I'm honestly not sure I can make it through another college football season with this bullshit as the backdrop/main talking point. I might just have to take a fall off and hope that people find something else to yammer about by 2009. Yes, SEC, you have a lot of good teams. We get it. Go fuck yourselves.) Of course, assuming you buy into that like I do, much of this post immediately becomes very ironic. I already thought about that and I'm OK with it.
2) Six games between two teams, in the context of conference superiority, means nothing.
3) Not that it matters, see point 1, but it was pretty obvious that the Western Conference was a lot better than the Eastern Conference this year. The West was 66 games over .500 in matchups between the two. That's an enormous advantage. Yes, the Celtics were perhaps the best overall team in the league. (I still maintain that the Spurs or Jazz would beat them in the finals more than half the time, but whatever.) That, however, does not make the East better. Was the WAC better than the Big 12 because Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl? Was the NL better than the AL because the Cardinals beat the Tigers in the World Series? No, and no. Unless you're Jemele Hill, in which case: yes, and definitely, because you have a tiny brain.
The basketball certainly is entertaining. The Phoenix-San Antonio opening-round series was better than any of this year's NCAA tournament games.
It went a mere five games, and was never in question after the 1st quarter of game three. So... no. There were probably like ten March Madness games that most people would consider "better" than that series, regardless of how cool games one and two were. You sound like JA Adande.
And if I had been told I could attend only one NBA game this season, I'm positive I would have picked a Western Conference matchup.
But winning and entertaining are two different things.
Very true. And all season long, the West ran the East's collective ass up and down the court, winning 57% of the games they played against each other.
All season long, and especially during the playoffs, we heard nonstop about how much better the Western Conference is than the Eastern Conference.
If this is true, and I don't think the part about hearing it "especially" during the playoffs is, that's probably because every playoff team in the West won at least 50 games while the East sported just three 50 win teams (and one playoff team that as eight games under .500). Seems fair.
But if that's true, why has the East won three of the past five NBA championships?
This is perhaps the stupidest sentence in the whole article. Again, let's use a list to specify why:
1) Small sample size means the finals aren't indicative of much in terms of relative conference strength
2) I must have forgotten something, isn't this article about the 2007-2008 season?
3) Since in Jemele's mind it obviously isn't, I think we might as well point out that the West has won seven of the past ten titles
4) Oh wait- that makes no fucking sense; why does the fact that Detroit beat LA four years ago make the West overrated now?
5) Think about that for a second. Jemele wants you to believe that, contrary to popular belief, the West is not better than the East right now. Why? In part, because Detriot beat LA in the finals in 2004.
(And when you consider the Pistons-Spurs series in 2005 lasted seven games, the East easily could have been winners of four of the past five.)
Nevermind about that last sentence being the dumbest in the article. Hey, if the Lakers don't blow that huge lead in game four of this finals, it goes seven, and you never know what can happen in a game seven. And if the refs hadn't stolen the 2006 series from the Mavs, they might have won it. So it's really the West that could have won four of the past five.
We're so fond of the style of play in the West, we've given the conference a free pass for how its teams have recently failed to show up in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers sort of showed up this year. (Not so much in 2004, but again, that was five finals ago.) On the other hand, the Spurs have obviously shown up in each of their three recent appearances, and the Mavs definitely showed up in 2006. That was a damn good series. What are we talking about again?
The past few Western Conference teams in the Finals have had one very obvious character flaw:
They've been softer than John Daly's midsection.Wow, how do you ruin a John Daly joke? That's difficult to do. The Spurs are the opposite of soft. That Mavs team was also not soft. So let's go ahead and take what happened this year, and extend it several years back without regard for reality or facts. Sounds great.
The Mavericks mentally shrunk against the Heat in 2006.
Few could blame them, given the way that series unfolded. (They also lost games 5 and 6 by one and three points respectively, FWIW.)
The Lakers were completely undressed by the Pistons in '04. And this year, reigning MVP Kobe Bryant and his sidekick, Pau Gau-soft, were punked by the Celtics.
This is the big, bad West?Yeah, it is. The same West that has flat out torched the East in head to head play each of the last several years. (60 games over .500 in 2006-07, 55 games in 2005-06, 62 games in 2004-05)
It's often been argued that if you entered Western Team A into the Eastern Conference, it'd either win the conference outright or at least be among the the East's top teams. But after watching how the Celtics annihilated the Lakers, how can that possibly be true?
Insanity. Absolute insanity. No explanation needed. (Except for the part about people saying Team A would outright win the East, which would obviously be untrue. And I don't remember hearing it this past season from any analyst.)
In fact, a lot of the Western teams have major issues lurking behind those pretty 50-win records.
Just as a lot of Eastern mid-tier teams have major issues "lurking" behind their 35-45 win records.
Houston can't win a playoff series.
Apparently, if you use some kind of advanced math, their inability to succeed in the Western playoffs proves that they wouldn't be one of the better teams in the East. You know, I don't see anyone out East besides Boston, Detroit, or Cleveland winning a whole lot of playoff series either.
Utah can't win on the road.
They won 17 regular season games there this year. Besides Boston, Detroit, and Orlando, no Eastern team won more than 18. In 2006-07, their 20 road wins were more than every Eastern team except Detroit and Cleveland.
Denver doesn't play defense.
Just like Washington and Cleveland don't play offense.
Golden State can't get focused (and doesn't play defense).
The Indiana Pacers, the East's #9 team this year (as the Warriors were in the West): a pillar of focusedness. Thanks, Jamal Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal!
Phoenix can't get past San Antonio (and doesn't always play defense).
Just as with the Houston situation, apparently the fact that they can't get past a Western team that's won three titles in the last six years means they wouldn't cut it out East.
New Orleans doesn't have enough pieces and is too inexperienced.
Hilarious and inaccurate anecdotal bullshit.
Dallas has yet to regain its confidence after losing to Miami in the Finals.
They have managed, however, to continue to win lots of games.
And San Antonio, the West's savior, is starting to get old.
OK, you got me there. Clearly they suck. And Boston and Detroit are a couple of spring chickens. No key players of 30 on either of those teams.
At least in the East, there's no pretending. When Eastern Conference teams stink, they make it obvious (see: the 76ers', Nets' and Cavaliers' Finals appearances).
This is a direct contradiction to pretty much everything you've written so far.
A team with 37 wins (Atlanta) and a team with 45 wins (Cleveland) pushed the Celtics to seven games -- something the mighty West's Lakers had no shot at doing.
Something they had no shot whatsoever at doing, unless of course they managed to not pull an epic collapse in game four and lose in the final minute. Yeah, they were really miles away from making it go seven.
Both Boston and Detroit had a better winning percentage against Western Conference teams this season than against teams in their own conference. But outside of Boston, very few people thought the Celtics had a chance against the Lakers.
Understand, this isn't an argument about which conference is deeper. Clearly the West wins that argument. Every Western playoff team won more than 50 games, while just three teams in the East accomplished that. Only four Western teams had a losing record against the East -- the SuperSonics, Clippers, Timberwolves and Grizzlies. Just four Eastern teams managed a winning record against the West.
(Larry B slaps holds head in hands, slowly shaking it back and forth)
That ship sailed the second you started writing this, Jemele. You weren't on it.
But despite those gaudy, imbalanced numbers, the East's recent dominance in the NBA Finals
Probably the loosest usage of "dominance" I've ever seen.
has earned its teams the right to tell everyone to be quiet about how great the West is.
I sure hope the Celtics' and Pistons' shoulders don't get too sore from carrying those other thirteen teams around in the context of that argument.
At the very least, there should be a moratorium on that crazy talk that the NBA playoff format should be changed so that teams with the top 16 records make the playoffs, regardless of conference.
So Jemele can even admit (like five sentences ago) that the West is deeper than the East. But she still calls for a moratorium on this idea, which has been proposed precisely to award the conference with more depth. Let's hear it for consistency.
Golden State last season against the five, count 'em, five Eastern playoff teams that finished with worse records than the Warriors: 8-2. Yeah, it would have been totally unfair to let them into the playoffs in front of the 37 win Hawks or 40 win Sixers.