Yesterday, Dave Zirin — the Nation sports columnist who, as the years go by, sounds less and less like a politically slanted leftist rabble-rouser and more like the only sumbitch who understands what the hell's going on — made a convincing case as to why sports fans should cheer for the Miami Heat rather than the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. The centerpiece of his argument was the nefarious, backhanded way the Thunder owners stole their team from Seattle, a city that loved its basketball and still openly pines for a team. Zirin is right in a logical sense — though Micky Arison is no saint — and in a business sense and in a good-for-humanity sense. Fortunately, sports isn't logical or good for humanity in the first place. (If it were, it wouldn't make everyone so much money.) So we're gonna go ahead and keep booing LeBron.
Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals kicks off tonight in Oklahoma City at 9 p.m., and for our money, we're plenty pleased it's beginning in OKC rather than Miami. The atmosphere at Chesapeake Energy Arena is the best in the NBA, sort of amazing considering the franchise itself is only a few years old. (We still remember back in the old NOOCH! days.) The Thunder have the home-court advantage, which means not only will we (probably) have more games in OKC than in Miami, but the series will almost certainly not end in Miami, too depressing an atmosphere for an NBA season to finish for a second consecutive year.
Oklahoma City is the young team that might be here a year early, but they're so ridiculously talented and deep that it's very possible this might just be a two-year window rather than a dynasty. (They're not going to be able to keep all of their young talent under the salary cap. This is a result of general manager Sam Presti actually doing his job too well.) The Heat are the team that has Been Here Before, but ultimately, these Heat have been through so much in the last two seasons that NBA Finals Experience would seem less relevant than Having All of Humanity Hate Your Stupid Face and Your Stupid Glasses Experience. What the Heat have in experience since The Decision transcends basketball, or even celebrity.
Which we figure is the best reason to keep cheering against them. The story of the Heat loses much of its fun and fervor if the Heat win a championship; the pathos, the gravitas, the tragedy — it's all gone then. They're just another title winner. But the longer the Heat go without a title, the more it builds, the more all-encompassing it becomes. Cheering against them is no longer about hatred of LeBron, or The Decision: It's just simply enjoying Sisyphus, watching LeBron push that boulder up the hill forever. That's more fun as an ongoing story, than a past one.
Plus, the Flaming Lips are Thunder fans.
That's enough for us. Go Thunder! Thunder up!