Yeah, yeah, yeah, the NBA’s Eastern Conference still sucks

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the NBA's Eastern Conference still sucks

Hi, Helen, let me tell you why the Eastern Conference sucks as a basketball league. Let’s say some team goes into the season, and let’s say they’re even remotely capable of winning something. Well, then they get all excited like Jojo the idiot circus boy with a pretty new pet. The pet is a possible title. Oh, my pretty little pet, they love you. So they stroke it, and they pet it, and they massage it. Hehe, they love it; they love their little naughty pet. They’re naughty. Then they take their naughty pet and they go …


Uuuhhhhh. They killed it. They killed their possible dynasty. That’s when they blow it. And that’s when people like us have to forge ahead, stop quoting Tommy Boy, and explain our takes.

Even since LeBron James vacated the Eastern Conference throne, there have been many would-be kings, but none of them have shown staying power.

In the five seasons since James went to Los Angeles, the East has two titles, which is pretty good considering the optics. Kawhi Leonard spent a season as a Ronin in Toronto and then tempted death with a move to the Clippers, thus killing anything the Raptors might’ve built in the process.

A couple of seasons later, the Milwaukee Bucks reached the mountaintop, yet the next two playoffs went so poorly — a second-round loss to Boston, followed by a first-round loss to Miami as the 1 seed — that the front office fired Mike Budenholzer. Giannis Antetokounmpo made enough noise that the team traded for Damian Lillard and now there’s another perennial contender in the East to overhype.

Since 2018, there’s been the Process 76ers, the Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving Nets, the next great tandem in Boston (half of which Brad Stevens keeps shopping), a Hawks’ trip to the Eastern Conference finals, the Bucks’ blip, and, of course, how could I forget Jimmy Butler’s Miami team.

Heat Culture is exhibit A through Z as to why this conference is derelict. Erik Spoelstra spends the bulk of the regular season actively convincing fans and experts that his team sucks, only to bushwhack all these latent dynasties. Even when the Celtics made the Finals, they needed a Butler missed three to get there.

Apparently, the only necessities to compete in the East are a fringe top 15 player, coaching, P90X, an olio of undrafted free agents, and a can-do attitude. Pat Riley isn’t a genius; he’s just a guy with slicked-back hair and a house in Biscayne Bay. People thought Heat Culture would transform Tyler Herro into the next White American All-Star when in reality, he’s just Duncan Robinson with a pedigree.

Miami is 3-8 in its past two Finals appearances, got swept in the opening round the season after the 2020 Finals run, and if they get back there again in June — with Jrue Holiday in Boston, and Dame a Deer — the entire league should be relegated.

Seriously, swap them out for whatever league Real Madrid plays in and make Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid play in Belgrade as recompense for gaslighting The Ringer staff since the site’s inception.

Hey, remember when James Harden went to Brooklyn and then Philly, and both squads had top-tier odds to win the NBA title? That was fun. In 25 years we’re going to find out that Haralabos Voulgaris discovered a way to Big Short NBA teams and both he and Adam Silver spent the past quarter century dining out on Harden and Boston “contender” hedges alone.

The Celtics and 76ers get flustered as easily as your most sensitive friend, while opponents didn’t even need to push the Nets to self-destruct. (Same with Atlanta, but no one has really ever taken them seriously, which explains a lot.) We’ll see how long Bucks fans can play the injury/bad coaching card because that excuse eventually falls on deaf ears — or makes Steve Ballmer’s head explode.

LeBron haters harped on the East during the King’s reign, and the past five years have only reinforced those beliefs. The pendulum of mediocrity swings east, if not permanently resides there.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.