The longer the NBA lockout drags on, the more likely it is that fans of NBA will have to find something else to occupy their time this winter and spring. The obvious alternative for NBA fans looking to satisfy their basketball jones is, of course, to watch old NBA Superstars videos on YouTube.
I highly recommend this one on Mark Price, not only because I can appreciate a white guy in short shorts who can shoot, but mainly because of the ironically named song “Black Gold” providing the background music. Other classics are Charles Barkley as “The Warrior”, Larry Bird and his “Small Town” roots, and, of course, Michael Jordan taking our breath away.
But once NBA fans are done reminiscing with these terrific videos, what then? I mean, yeah, Google Image searches for “kurt rambis mustache” and “brian cardinal” are entertaining, but it’s not replacing watching actual basketball games.
That is why NBA fans need to direct their basketball-starved attention one level down to the college game. And for those NBA fans who are not too distraught by the lockout to acquiesce, here is a guide for which college basketball team each should follow based on his or her NBA allegiance.
Before we begin, let it be noted that you will not see Duke listed below for a reason: I cannot in good faith advise anyone to root for Duke. They already have a large “worldwide” fan base that is loud and haughty; they don’t need anyone else. In fact, I’ll advise all NBA fans to actively root against Duke. It’s actually quite fun, and for someone who doesn’t already have a college allegiance, joining the Duke Haters Club just may be more fun than attaching yourself to any particular college team anyway.
Now onto the assignments, based far less on geography than on, well, other relevant matters. (And don’t worry Kentucky fans, the comment section awaits your ire at the end of the post.)
Chicago Bulls: Xavier Musketeers
Bulls fans can appreciate good point guard play, especially guards who can put their teams on their backs to win big games, and there are few point guards in America – if any – that are as good at doing just that as Tu Holloway. In fact, he is probably the closest thing to Derrick Rose that there is in college basketball this year (and he’s not even that close, which just goes to show you how good Rose is/was.)
Miami Heat: Kentucky Wildcats
This one is easy. In fact, it’s probably the most obvious of all.
Image source: SportsBore.com
Not only do you have the LeBron-Worldwide Wes-John Calipari connection already in place, but after last year there is now a sensibility similarity between these two fan bases. Kentucky fans would sell what is left of their souls to win a national championship by any means necessary, and that is a feeling than Miami fans can probably now relate with.
Plus, Kentucky is a lot like the Heat in how they assemble their roster every year: just get the best recruits, throw them together with some decent coaching, and see what coalesces as the season goes on in hopes that it’s a contender come March. That’s exactly what the Heat did last year with their collection of the best free agents, coming up just short of winning it all…just like Calipari always does. (But hey, at least the Heat’s appearance in the Finals won’t be voided a few years from now!)
Boston Celtics: Michigan State Spartans
Obviously you can tell that geography is far from the most important factor here.
If you’re a Celtics fan, you already have a wardrobe full of green clothes that you can wear while watching Tom Izzo and the Spartans. So that’s a positive. Also, I think the Celtics and Spartans are in similar positions:
- Boston was thought to be a title contender going into last year, but now they are seen as an aging team starting to decline. How will Danny Ainge rebuild the roster moving forward? Can he keep Boston in contention as he does it?
- Similarly, after yet another Final 4 run two years ago, the great things were expected of the Spartans last year. They faltered, and as guys like Raymar Morgan, Kalin Lucas, and, after this year, Draymond Green depart, a new cast of characters will have to step up to keep the Spartans in contention. How will Tom Izzo rebuild the roster moving forward? Can he keep the Spartans in contention as he does it?
As Kermit might say, it’s been easy being green over the past handful of years. It could be harder moving forward.
Orlando Magic: Ohio State Buckeyes
There just aren’t as many dominant back-to-the-basket big men in basketball anymore – college or pro. The Magic have one of them in Dwight Howard, and the best college post man is clearly second year Buckeye Jared Sullinger. Granted, Sullinger is much shorter and less athletic than the high-flying Howard, so the two don’t compare in terms of defensive impact and aerial antics, but we’ll take what we can get.
And hey, with Sullinger trimming down a ton during the offseason, he no longer looks like the complete opposite of Howard in terms of physique.
Also, Orlando is often good, even reaching the Finals a few years back, but they haven’t been able to break through to win a title. Ohio State fans not old enough to remember the days of Fred Taylor and Jerry Lucas can certainly relate with that.
Update: Robert Littal, an alum of the Ohio State University, makes a good point: “We should have been the Celtics since everyone hate THE OSU…Orlando is WEAK, who cares about the Magic.”
Atlanta Hawks: Baylor Bears
The Atlanta Hawks are a talented team that had a memorable postseason moment when it seemed like they were arriving (taking the Celtics to 7 games), but they typically underachieve and can be maddeningly inconsistent from game to game while playing an undisciplined style.
The Baylor Bears are a talented team that had a memorable postseason moment where it seemed like they were arriving (making it to the Elite 8), but they typically underachieve and and can be maddeningly inconsistent from game to game while playing an undisciplined style.
Oh, and both teams have head coaches with the last name Drew.
Yep, good fit.
New York Knicks: St. John’s Red Storm
The last time the Knicks were relevant and good, Pat Riley and his slicked-back hair were roaming the sidelines. Fans of St. John’s are hoping that their new slicked-back coach Steve Lavin can make them relevant again. He started off well last year with an experienced roster, but now we’ll have to see how he does as he builds it on his own. And since Knicks fans have suffered so much lately, I don’t want to pull them too far away from Madison Square Garden.
Philadelphia 76ers: UCLA Bruins
I really struggled with this one, so I’m glad that Chris Callaway came through with a perfect fit:
“The 76ers could be UCLA. Will Smith is now a part-owner of the Sixers, and in West Philadelphia he was born in raised. And after taking a cab – with a license plate that said “Fresh” and that had dice in the mirror – all the way from Philly to California, Will was able to sit on his throne as the Prince of Bel Air for six magical years, and 15 more in syndication.“
And, as Keith Mullett pointed out, the 76ers have former Bruins Jrue Holliday and Jason Kapono. So this one really would work out great.
And, as Chris later pointed out, MSF writer Drew Lange should change his first name to Jrue. (This last point really has nothing to do with anything, but it did make me laugh.)
Indiana Pacers: Indiana/Purdue/Notre Dame/Butler
Positioned right in the middle of one of the best cities for amateur sports in America, most Pacers fans already have strong college basketball allegiances to either Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, or Butler. They should just continue rooting for whatever college team they already like more than the Pacers. [hat tip to Jon Washburn]
Milwaukee Bucks: DePaul Blue Demons
Marquette would be the easy choice here, but let’s go with DePaul. Both were good back in the day, both have had a big tall guy lead them to a title (George Mikan, Lew Alcindor), but both have been largely irrelevant since then. Plus both play in a good sports town where no one really cares about them. [hat tip Chris Callaway]
Charlotte Bobcats: North Carolina State Wolfpack
First off, picture Sidney Lowe and his 25-55 ACC record in your mind and tell me he doesn’t seem like exactly the kind of guy Michael Jordan would hire to coach the Bobcats (in between putts on the 10th green).
Update: Of course, since Sidney Lowe no longer coaches the Wolfpack, which I had forgotten about in my haste to diss Michael Jordan’s GM skills, the joke really is on me here. Thanks to the commenter who pointed this out.
Also, while the Wolfpack was relatively competitive during Herb Sendek’s tenure (he won 9 or more conference games in four of his last five seasons there), this is a program that has reached one Sweet 16 since 1989 despite being situated in the hoops hotbed of North Carolina. Bobcats fans already know all about cheering for a Tobacco Road loser. This would be a seamless transition.
Detroit Pistons: Michigan Wolverines
Michigan State is already taken, but that’s okay. Struggling Pistons fans shouldn’t align themselves with the unranked Spartans – a program possibly on the decline – anyway; they should go with the Wolverines, a program that John Beilein seems to have on the upswing. Plus, the Pistons and Wolverines both won the title together back in 1989, so maybe they can get the Michigan Magic working together again.
New Jersey Nets: Northwestern Wildcats
Jay-Z is obviously the most famous of the Nets’ management team (with apologies to the Russian dude), so I would think that Nets fans can appreciate some good rap music. Thus, the only possible choice for Nets fans would be Northwestern, because then they’d be able to rockout with their lockout to a guy who is clearly on the way to being at Jay’s level. That’s right, Chet Haze.
Washington Wizards: Central Florida Knights
When this franchise was called the Bullets, it won a championship and four conference titles. Since it became the Wizards in 1997, it hasn’t won a damn thing, except a few fleeting moments of notoriety when Michael Jordan joined the team to play at about 25% of his former greatness. But maybe there is a way for a Jordan to make it up to Wizards fans.
Despite not being heavily recruited coming out of high school, Michael Jordan’s son Marcus has turned into a pretty good player at Central Florida. As a sophomore he averaged 15 points and led the Knights to 19 victories. Heading into his junior year, Jordan has the Knights on Andy Bottoms’ preseason watch list for mid-major teams.
One MJ never gave the Wizards the title they hoped he might, but perhaps another MJ can deliver one to Wiz fans who adopt the Knights. And with the Wizards located in the nation’s capitol, what better conference to win than Conference USA?
Toronto Raptors: Carleton University Rams
I was really at a loss for the Raptors, so I’m glad that Josh Tinley stepped up with the following suggestion: “I think Raptors fans should cheer on the Carleton University Ravens, who have won 7 of the last 9 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) National Championships. And they’re right there in Ontario.”
I honestly don’t know much about the Raptors other than that Vince Carter had some misadventures there and Chris Bosh recently left there. So Josh’s suggestion is as good as anything I can think of.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Root Against Kentucky
Last year, I’m not sure what got Cavs fans more excited: a Cavs win or a Heat loss. Maybe early in the season Cavs fans were pumped up by Cleveland victories, but once it became clear that the Cavs would end up being one of the worst NBA teams in recent memory, surely more satisfaction was taken by rooting against LeBron and the Heat. So why not apply that same thinking during the lockout?
Since LeBron and Coach Cal have their little Worldwide Wes-orchestrated love affair, and being that they are just so damn hatable anyway, Kentucky would make a perfect target for the sad, plaintive ire of Cavs fans.
Photo credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images via Esquire.com
Full disclosure: I don’t like Kentucky. In case you hadn’t noticed.
San Antonio Spurs: Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas is similar to the Spurs in that we take their consistent excellence under Bill Self for granted – they are almost always in the top 5 and have won the Big 12 nine out of the last ten years. They also, like San Antonio, have had some disappointing postseasons lately, but enough championships in their recent and past history to where their fans can’t get too upset.
The Spurs are so consistently good that we take them for granted. Did you even remember that they were the #1 seed in the Western Conference last year? Even with an aging nucleus they still found a way to be great in the regular season, but they just don’t seem to have the juice to make deep playoff runs anymore. This experience of playoff disappointment would allow Spurs folks to easily assimilate into the Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk crowd.
On a possibly related note, I’d love to see Greg Popovich wear Bill Self’s magic pimp shirt.
Los Angeles Lakers: North Carolina Tar Heels
After stumbling around a bit after Dean Smith left, North Carolina is back to being the nation’s glamor team under Roy Williams. Sure, they had that little blip two years ago, and Williams’ first season in Chapel Hill was one to forget, but otherwise Williams has never won fewer than 29 games and has delivered two national titles and another Final 4 appearance in less than a decade. And when Carolina is good, few other college colors start popping up nationwide like Carolina blue, as the frontrunners flock to support MJ’s alma mater.
Los Angeles Lakers fans (minus our own KVB, of course) know all about being front-runners…but very, very, very successful front-runners who have come to expect greatness, which is why any Lakers fan who turns his or her attention to college basketball will surely flock to Chapel Hill. I mean, it’s not like they can root for Kobe or Pau’s college team. Lakers fans are only satisfied by titles, and Carolina is loaded up again for another title run.
Also, it will be a nice change of pace for Lakers fans to be able to root for a coach who can actually bend his knees.
Image source: Here
Dallas Mavericks: Indiana Hoosiers
I know that I already listed Indiana among the group of Hoosier State school that Pacers fans should cheer for, but hear me out and I think you’ll agree that Mavs fans should turn their attention to their owner’s alma mater if the lockout drags on.
Not only is there the Mark Cuban connection (he got rich in part because of a desire to listen to Indiana basketball games), but if Mavs fans squint real hard (and maybe take a little LSD…) they just might be able to pretend that Cody Zeller is Dirk Nowitzki. Hell, Indiana fans already are and Zeller hasn’t even played a game yet.
And if it’s strong LSD, Mavs fans can really let their imaginations run wild and pretend that watching Jordan Hulls and Zeller together is a reunion of Nash and Nowitzki.
Besides, Mavs fans owe it to Cuban to send the positive vibes emanating throughout Dallas because of the Mavs and Rangers up to Bloomington. He delivered the city an NBA title, now Big D can do its part of get the Hoosier basketball program back on track. And since Mavs fans know a little something about cheering for a really, really crappy team and then seeing slow growth through to a title, they can give Hoosier fans some much needed perspective after the last three years.
Oklahoma City Thunder: UCONN Huskies
Thunder fans have grown accustomed to seeing a long, lanky guy drain jumpers, especially clutch ones, from all over the court. After his performance in the NCAA Tournament last year, Jeremy Lamb looks like he might be able to do the same.
Denver Nuggets: Utah Utes
First off, fans of the Nuggets would surely want to stay out in the West Coast, so if nothing else rooting for Utah gives them that. However, there is an even better reason for this one, and I guarantee you won’t see coming. (And you may just wish it hadn’t…)
Who is the most famous coach in Utah history? Rick Majerus. And what do Majerus and the word “nuggets” have in common? Well, depending on just how immature you are, and what you consider “nuggets” to be a potential euphemism for, both of the following excerpts could apply:
During a game in 1999 Majerus gathered his team around him during a timeout and zeroed in on struggling center Nate Althoff. “You’ve got none of these,” Majerus growled, and then reached over and lightly backhanded Althoff’s groin. “You’ve got no nuts!”
What happened next still haunts me to this day. Majerus took the towel, pulled his pants down, and quickly took a dump into the towel, which he was holding under his ass. After he was done he used part of the towel to wipe, wrapped it up, and HANDED IT BACK TO THE MANAGER, and told him to throw it away. The kid looked like a deer in giant Rick Majerus headlights. The whole room was silent. Rick just pulled his pants up and went back to the scout, never once mentioning it or acting like anything out of the ordinary had occurred.”
If you’d like the full context for these excerpts, click here.
Also, I just want it noted that this is the third to last one of these I’m doing. So I’m running out of ideas. And considering how crappy the NBA lockout is for fans, an excerpt that included the phrase “took a dump” and that included a description of a skidmarked towel seemed extremely appropriate.
Portland Trailblazers: New Mexico Lobos
Trailblazers fans are known for being among the most passionate in the NBA, which makes Rose Garden Arena one of the toughest places to play. That is why Trailblazers fans would fit right in if they took a trip to The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, known for being one of the toughest and loudest places to play in America.
New Orleans Hornets: Louisville Cardinals
Hornets fans can cheer for Louisville because Peyton Siva is an exciting point guard. Sure, he’s nowhere near as good as CP3, but he’s one of the best in college basketball nonetheless. [hat tip to Jon Washburn]
For the uninitiated:
Also, people in New Orleans already are predisposed to like people named Peyton, so there’s that.
Plus, I’d add that Larry Johnson isn’t walking through that door. And Alonzo Mourning isn’t walking through that door. Nor is anyone else from the Hornets’ glory days in Charlotte. And surely Rick Pitino would be able to remind Hornets fans of this.
Memphis Grizzlies: VCU Rams
The Grizzlies were the surprise story of the 2011 NBA playoffs, an 8th seed that stunned a #1 seed and then made it all the way to a Game 7 against Oklahoma City. Similarly, VCU shocked the world by going from First Four to Final Four, knocking off #1 seeded Kansas along the way. With their underdog cheering powers combined, maybe, just maybe, Shaka Smart and the Rams can make another deep run.
Houston Rockets: Georgetown Hoyas
Georgetown would be a good fit for Rockets fans because the Hoyas just got into that massive fight with the Chinese. Here is the video if you’ve never seen it:
Houston fans might be so frustrated at Yao Ming’s injuries and unfulfilled potential that they might appreciate the audacity with which the Hoyas fought the Chinese. [hat tip to Jon Washburn]
Phoenix Suns: Wisconsin Badgers
Suns fans know all about watching a team dominated by the point guard, so watching the Jordan Taylor-led Badgers wouldn’t be so much different than watching Steve Nash lead their Suns. Except that it would. Because Wisconsin and Taylor play a much slower tempo than Nash and the Suns. I don’t think that would be such a bad thing though. It would expose Suns fans to a less frenetic style of basketball that they aren’t really used to watching.
Also, anytime they see a picture of Bo Ryan, they can pretend he’s making his scary faces in the general direction of Robert Sarver and feel a little bit better inside. And with this picture in particular, they can pretend he’s casting an evil spell on Sarver and the rest of the NBA owners.
Utah Jazz: BYU Cougars
Or they could just pay more attention to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
And we’ll just move right along.
Golden State Warriors: Belmont Bruins
Golden State, like the Suns, is another NBA franchise known for having a run-and-gun style that makes watching them fun. Warriors fans also seem to have a chip on their shoulder and enjoying being the underdog the slays the dragon, a la a few years when they knocked off the #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks. Who better, then, for Warriors fans to root for than Belmont and its high-scoring, guard-led, underdog attack?
Read Andy Bottoms’ preview of the 2011-12 Bruins. The way he describes their leading scorer Ian Clark, it makes him sound like a cross between Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Sounds like a guy Warriors fans can get behind, and with Belmont expected to be one of this year’s top mid-majors, perhaps Warriors fans can channel their upset energy from a few years ago and help propel the Bruins to March greatness.
Los Angeles Clippers: Texas Longhorns
As MSF’s Keith Mullett said, “Clippers fans could root for Texas since both always have loaded rosters and coaches who don’t know how to manage them.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Sacramento Kings: Sacred Heart Pioneers
Let’s be honest here: for the last several years, about the most excitement Kings fans have been able to have is the inevitable sophomoric chuckling that ensues from seeing “SAC” scroll across score tickers. With no lockout, that means no more SAC…but not if Kings fans adopt Sacred Heart as their college basketball team of choice. Plus, Sacred Heart sucks (11-18 last year), so Kings fans can just keep on expecting loss after loss, just like if the NBA season had started on time.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Butler Bulldogs
We’ll let the Timberwolves’ fans cheer for Butler. They deserve to watch a team make the most out of their talent because of good coaching and management…as opposed to…well…KAAAAAAAAAAAAA
And now it’s your turn. Surely your perspective on this will be different mine.
What are your ideas for which college teams certain NBA fan bases should adopt during the lockout?
The comment section awaits.