| March 18, 2018

Column: Anything but boring

January 17, 2017

I hate football.

Okay, maybe hate is too strong. I intensely dislike football when my favorite team, the Cincinnati Bengals, has a losing season or is always booted out of the playoffs in the Wild Card.

Fans of the Seahawks, the Texans, or the Cowboys may already feel my discomfort, and will probably continue to feel lost without a favorite NFL team over the next few weeks.

I hope fans don’t stay upset with the NFL for long. Instead, they should turn their attention to the NBA, which is at its midseason point. I’ve heard all kinds of arguments about why the NBA is boring — they don’t play defense, they stopped using basic basketball fundamentals, there are too many games, college players try more because they are trying to go pro, everyone already knows who will win the championship, etc.

I could go on forever, but I do not agree.

NBA players most definitely put in effort. Take some time to watch some highlights of Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook and tell me he’s not trying. His passion for the game appears to be fueled by his hate for Kevin Durant and the star-studded Golden State Warriors, a team many think will waltz through this season and come out with a championship.

Westbrook is currently averaging a triple-double this season. That is absolutely insane.

He is leading the team in rebounds as a point guard. The last player to average a triple-double in the NBA was the legendary guard Oscar Robertson, when he played for the Cincinnati Royals in 1961.

Beside Westbrook, the NBA is full of stars and spectacles. Every one of the 30 teams has at least one star player, so there is a good chance a fan will see something crazy in each game.

One major complaint about the NBA is the 82-game schedule, because, like baseball, when there are too many games, it’s hard to pay attention to everybody.

I think of the schedule as more of a blessing than a curse. With the NFL season all but over for me, I’ll take all the professional sports I can get. And if that means streaming my beloved Detroit Pistons three times a week, I’m happy to do it.

Keeping up with the NBA is tricky. Players move, teams change, injuries are frequent and games air every day. In my experience, the best way to keep up with the entire league is to stay informed about a favorite team.

Once a fan has figured out who their favorite team is, it is best to stick with them. Each team plays one another, so there’s always a chance to see the biggest all-stars play against one’s favorite squad. There is also there is a lot to be learned from a team’s commentators. Most games are usually streamed on Reddit and Twitter, just do some searching.

Sure, the Warriors and Cavaliers are the popular choice for a Finals rematch, but as the season nears the halfway mark, it’s beginning to look like Golden State and Cleveland will have more competition than expected. So, picking a favorite team, regardless of past games, isn’t always a lost cause.

In the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers have the best record with 29 wins and 10 losses. But there are some close competitors in their conference, like the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics.

Cleveland is not an unbeatable team, which leads me to the Golden State Warriors. After the Warriors picked up Kevin Durant in the offseason, many expected them to break their NBA record of 73 wins from last season. But they already have six losses, including a blown 24-point lead against the Grizzlies at home, the largest in the league this year. Even with arguably the most unfair lineup in NBA history, the Warriors have proven they are not an unbeatable team.

The league may continue to be wide open and maybe the playoffs will be a bit more interesting. Twelve teams are fighting for playoff contention in the Eastern Conference and there are 11 teams in the Western Conference that have a playoff opportunity.

Too many teams look good this season to call it, and I can only hope that the year continues on the entertaining track it’s been on.

Colton Clark can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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