Switching sides at the drop of a ball

I often envy the crowds at places like the Oracle and Quicken Loans Arenas. They are so sure of which team to support, and they have most probably backed the same team all their lives.

Wonder what they would make of a basketball fan like me, who keeps switching sides all the time?

With Game 7 unexpectedly on, I’m as usual, torn between who to support. I’ve been backing the Warriors all through their 73–9 season, and hoping they win the Finals to cement their place in history.

Then the Western Conference Finals began, and the Thunder happened. KD and Westbrook were playing spectacular ball games, and I wanted to see a competitive series, so I switched sides to back OKC. Unexpectedly, the Thunder kept winning, and suddenly the Warriors were down 1–3.

At which point, the Warriors began to show some fight as epitomised by Curry’s war cry of “We’re not going home.” Time for me to switch sides to back the underdogs. The Splash brothers got going, the Thunder lost the plot in the last minutes of Game 7, and the Warriors were in the Finals.

The Finals have been a bit of a puzzle, as none of the games have been close. After the Warriors won the first two games with big margins, it looked like they had the thing wrapped. Then the Cavaliers came alive, and gave them a 30 point whipping in Game 3. This however seemed a blip, as the Warriors won the next game by 11, to go 3–1 up.

No other team has won the Finals after going 1–3 down. So naturally, I switched sides and started backing the Cavaliers. Maybe the never-say-die games of LeBron and Irving had something to do with it. As did the repeated flopping of Varejao, and the hack-a-Tristan game of the Warriors.

Then came Game 5 where the two Cavaliers got 41 each, and Game 6 where James got another 41, and Curry got himself ejected.

While the games go on, it’s interesting how random comments have come back to bite the sayer. Like Westbrook’s grin when asked to comment on Curry’s defense made him go out to prove a point in the next game. Or Curry’s own comment about still smelling last year’s champagne in the Quicken Loans locker room offended LeBron enough to make him indulge in some trash talk after an emphatic block of a Curry layup. And Draymond’s b***h crack definitely helped push LeBron into super LeBron Mode.

As Game 7 looms up, the roles have been reversed from the 2015 Finals, with it now being the turn of the Warriors to be playing without their key players, with Iguodala’s back gone, and Bogut out with an injured knee.

I want the Warriors to win, as a victory would give meaning to their 73–9 season. But they play a reckless game that relies too much on 3-point shooting. With Barnes going for 0–8 points in Game 6, and the Splash Brothers missing quite a few, they must be mentally down for Game 7.

I want the Cavaliers to win because of how LeBron has played in the Finals. Not that he’s really taking that high road. He most probably deliberately psyched Green into losing his hand, and Curry into losing his mouthpiece. But mental games are part of the deal. In Game 5, the whole of Oracle Arena was booing LeBron every time he touched the ball, and yet the Cavaliers won that game.

With Game 7 almost on us, I’m still undecided. There are two great teams out there. They both deserve to win. But one will go home without a ring.

So who will I support? I think I will back whichever team plays the best mix of inspirational and fair basketball on the day.

That’s what matters, not winning or losing.

it’s an odd world

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