"It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. And never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant". - Bishop Desmond Tutu. I was at the ACC last night, ready to enjoy what the Raptors and Jazz had to offer. I heard the heights of ultimate cheering and praise for our men in red and white. I also heard the boos and verbal jeers toward a few calls (the referees were a different breed last night). But this isn't what struck me. What struck me was a "this team sucks" piercing through the air during the fourth quarter. This team doesn't suck. Whatever system they are using or decisions made to generate wins clearly did not work for them this season. That is the difference. I think it is hypocritical to cheer and show praise one minute and verbally abuse your 'so-called team' the next. Sure, be upset your team blew a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter. As a fan you have every right to be upset. But unless you are able to school the likes of Demar DeRozan, Leandro Barbosa or even Reggie Evans all on your own, you are not in a position to proclaim the level of talent a team has, especially in such an ignorant way. I read tweets from self proclaimed Raptors fans announcing they are jumping ship and supporting another team from now on based on what they have seen so far this season. This is a real shame. Despite the Raptors not finishing the game in their favour, I had a really good time. Besides the game, there were many ways I was entertained - especially the Raptors Dance Pak. They were so positive and energetic it made me want to scoop their workout regimen so I may raise my own level of athleticism. Aside from the company of one of my best friends Dave, the highlight of the night for me was when I saw an adult fan go ape crazy for a free t-shirt, pause to look at it and promptly shuffle it forward a few rows to an unsuspecting 5 year-old. Now if only the jaded fans in attendance Thursday night could have shown the same kind of compassion for the Toronto Raptors. Please be clear I am not saying Raptors fans have no right to be frustrated their team did not make the playoffs for one reason or another. I am asking you to direct said frustration to the right place and see the bigger picture.
Speaking of Playoffs...
NBA All-Star Weekend? Done. NBA Trade Deadline? Done and Done. The only thing left to look forward to now on your professional basketball calendar are the playoffs. Last year, the DNB staff made their picks and gave their individual reasons for their choices. As you may remember, I chose the Los Angeles Lakers to go all the way and I do so again this year. I realize Boston, Chicago and San Antonio are the only teams to clinch a playoff spot so far but I never go with the top teams unless I am confident they have shown they know how to win AND lose. San Antonio has bulldozed through most of the league at this point with a 52-12 record but ask yourself have they lost major games they should have won? How did they bounce back? This is the most important skill to have going into the playoffs since we all know this is the time for surprises and upsets. When the Lakers fell to the Cavs 104-99 on February 16th, even Magic Johnson was trash talking his former club for losing to the worst team in the league. I remained confident they would pull through and so did Lakers management since no changes were made to L.A.'s roster close to the deadline - not even the rumoured Ron Artest trade.
Fast forward to today. The Lakers are now showing their championship contending qualities and posting an 8 game win streak since the All-Star break. Tonight they play the Heat and are poised to stretch their win streak to nine. The Miami Heat have not shown - at least recently - they are able to handle the pressure and bounce back from adversity. The Lakers have. Having said this, if we were to toss the remainder of the season and start the 2011 'Battle Royale' for NBA supremacy right now, here are my match -ups:
(1, 8) Boston Celtics - Indiana Pacers - BOSTON
(4, 5) Orlando Magic - Atlanta Hawks - ORLANDO
(3, 6) Miami Heat - New York Knicks - NEW YORK
(2, 7) Chicago Bulls - Philadelphia 76ers - CHICAGO
(1, 8) San Antonio Spurs - Memphis Grizzlies - SAN ANTONIO
(4, 5) Oklahoma City Thunder - Denver Nuggets - OKLAHOMA CITY
(3, 6) Los Angeles Lakers - Portland Trail Blazers - LOS ANGELES
(2, 7) Dallas Mavericks - New Orleans Hornets - DALLAS
Think about this over the weekend. When you join me on Tuesday for more "NBAz in 7 Dayz", I will give you my reasons and fill in the rest. Thank-you for joining me today. As always I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please keep them coming by following me on Twitter (ddegraauw) and Facebook (Danielle de Graauw). Have a great weekend.