Right now is an excellent time to be an NBA hoops fan. Playoffs start Saturday and the most high stakes event involving a ping-pong ball this side of East Asia, is about a month out. It really is one of the only moments during the season, other than Opening Night, where all NBA fans have something to look forward to. Whether it be hoping your team goes on a post-season run or hoping your team sucked the perfect amount during the regular season so they were able to put in just the right amount of pong balls in a hamster wheel. Right now, everybody's got hope.
With that said, some teams have weird hope. Take the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, for instance. One team has clinched the worst record in the NBA. The other got the shit beaten out of them in late February/early March, and somehow woke up in the playoffs. The former gets a head-start at winning Bingo. The latter gets to keep a streak of unimpressive playoff appearances alive. So whose certainly empty arena would you rather sit your ass down in going forward? Let’s take a look at the case for each squad.
I like to picture Milwaukee as a city in a perpetual state where it is always cloudy, wet and 26 degrees. Where homeless people greet you outside every ATM, taxis are never there when you need them and every girl looks and acts like Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids, which of course, takes place in Milwaukee, and is indeed a terrible movie. The city’s basketball team hasn’t done the people any favors. But everybody knows that in the NBA, you have to go down to go up. In a month, the Bucks will have a 25% chance at getting the first pick in the draft where they will probably take Andrew Wiggins. There is a good chance that Wiggins (or Parker or Embiid or Randle etc.) will be stars in this league and could take the Bucks to the next level. However, a 25% chance doesn’t let me sleep easy at night. That is basically Dan Uggla’s career batting average. Would you be confident in Danny Forearms getting you a hit in a clutch situation? If you were then you would have more irrational confidence than Sandy Lyle.
So to summarize if you’re a Bucks fan....You won 15 games in one season. Your holding out hope that Dan Uggla gets you a hit in a big situation. And even if Uggla does get a hit, you’re most likely going to draft a man who pooped himself against Stanford in the tournament. And even if Wiggins does succeed, he would be surrounded by a team whose best players are Brandon Knight, a lanky Greek kid and a marijuana advocate. And even if they do play well and win playoff games, once the contracts expire any decent player will look to get out of town because Milwaukee isn’t exactly the Mecca for the NBA lifestyle. And even if it all works out and Milwaukee wins a title, you’re going to go out, drink a shitload of Miller Lites, and still end up going home with a Maya Rudolph. To quote the fat kid in the Denzel movie about debate teams, “I think I will take the latter.”
Although I am taking this latter, nothing about it is impressive. Like Milwaukee’s perpetual depressing weather, the Atlanta Hawks are stuck in a perpetual cycle of outstanding mediocre basketball. The Hawks have made the playoffs seven straight years, but never made it beyond the 2nd round. Nobody is better at being good, but not great. If the NBA were like a diving board, and every team approaches the edge of the board preparing to jump, there are two viable options at their disposal: Either make your immaculate leap and go for the gold, or roll over and flop into the water. The Hawks choose to just stand at the edge rubbing their nipples.
The Hawks are a better choice for fandom because the city of Atlanta is awesome and the players, while arguably peaked, are skilled and likable But the real kicker as to why the Hawks are a better choice is the fact that their “success” gives you some ammo in terms of defending and justifying your team. How often are you in a bar arguing with your buddies about whose teams better? Typically, the conversation goes a little like this:
Hawks guy: “Bro, your root for the Bucks, you can’t talk shit.”
Bucks guy: “Win a title then come talk to me.”
Hawks guy: “1958”
Bucks guy: “Oh yeah, we won in ’71. More recent. Better competition. That’s a real title.”
Hawks guy: “Whatever we weren’t even alive. It’s about what we’ve seen.”
Bucks guy: “ And what exactly have you seen other than waffle houses and gang activity?”
Hawks guy: “7 straight playoff appearances.”
That right there ends the argument. Pick the Hawks and enjoy your 18th pick every year.