Dear Eastern Conference,
I’m writing to you because I feel like maybe you could use a friend right about now.
I know that everybody’s talking smack about you, that they’re slinging insults like “weak,” “inferior” and “comical” while the usual talking heads and so-called “experts” are analyzing you harder than a couple of security guards watching a Black guy walking through a Barney’s Department Store.
As if it weren’t bad enough that some Western Conference teams like the Portland Trailblazers are making fun of you, even the Phoenix Suns took a turn at your expense. The Phoenix Suns, for Christ’s sake!!
I know, I know…some friend, putting all your business out there on Front Street like that, right? But, a true friend’s not going to sugar coat anything – not if it can help you pull yourself together and start acting like the respectable collection of divisions that I know you can be.
Look, I know you’re hurting. First Doc Rivers walks out on you for your sunnier, more attractive cousin, and then you have to watch as one of your most exciting players, Derrick Rose, goes down for the season (again!) even as one of theirs, Russell Westbrook, returns to the court stunningly early from his own knee surgery. And, not only is old man Kobe already back from his Achilles injury, but his crappy team still had a better record without him than your two “Championship-caliber” New York teams.
But, try to think about it like this, okay? If Doc had stuck around, it ultimately wouldn’t have worked out and you probably would have ended up thinking that he was a loser, anyway. And, D-Rose? You’ve seen him for, what, ten games in the last two years? It’s almost like he was never there in the first place. At least the Nets seem like they might have a chance to turn things around once they get to church and pray about finding a witch doctor with magic beans that can help to lift the injury curse that they’re obviously carrying.
And, I hear that you just unloaded Rudy Gay and his meganormously inappropriate contract to the West, so…there’s that, too.
What I’m trying to say is: “you don’t need those guys.” They didn’t make you. You’re so much better than that. You have a ton of other things that make you special.
Hell, you’ve got the only team that’s won the last two NBA Championships, the Miami Heat, with Coach Spo’ and LeBron James and…well, you’ve got Coach Spo’, LeBron and the Championships, anyway.
Then there’s the Indiana Pacers with the best record in the League and the surprisingly competitive Atlanta Hawks, and those new-look Brooklyn Nets with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and Coach Jason Kidd…well, they’re the new-look Nets, anyway.
If you need to hold onto something for inspiration as you make your way back, you can always remember the fact that you’re the conference of legends. You had Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Dr. J. – that’s 21 Championships and two ABA rings; and when the going got tough, you’ve always had enough tough guys to get you through the tough goings. Remember the original Detroit Piston “Bad Boys” and the “Malice in the Palace” a few eras later? There once was even a time when you had Charles Oakley, Alonzo Mourning, Charles Barkley and Anthony Mason making the entire West Coast want to take the long way home to avoid having to pass by your side of the country.
Oh, and one more thing…the West may hold the slightest razor-thin edge in total Championships won with 22 to your 21, but you kick @$$ in All-Star games, taking the all-time matchup 36 to 26.
Now, I don’t want to add any extra weight to the load that you’re already carrying, but I feel as though it’s my duty as a friend to tell you about a rumor that’s been floating around lately. I hear that incoming NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been seriously contemplating having another realignment of divisions once he’s handed the keys to the car by David Stern at the end of the season. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take this group of divisions and go out with a bang before changes happen?
Hey, I know what you’re thinking…it’s easy for me to say all this because it’s not my situation. But, I’m only telling you all this because I really believe in you and I know that you can do it.
Do it for the Charlotte Bobcats, who just keep on trying to win in spite of legendary player and legendarily bad owner Michael Jordan calling the shots. Do it for the Chicago Bulls, whose single best point guard over the past two years has been the combination of Nate Robinson and Kirk Hinrich. Do it for the Boston Celtics, who are too young and inexperienced to know to stop playing with heart and determination, even with nine golden lottery tickets to use over the next five years if only they can find a way to fall behind the “superior” teams struggling to get in front of them. And, speaking of the Celtics, do it for the Atlantic Division – a collection of teams that seems to be taking things far too literally by trying to play out the season submerged at the bottom of the ocean.
Most of all, though, Eastern Conference…do it for the great pride and sheer love of the game that any self-respecting sports hemisphere should have.
And, if that doesn’t work, then at least do it so that the Phoenix Suns have nothing to laugh at but themselves.
Come on, Eastern Conference…you can DO this!