The Joys of Deflated Expectations in the NBA

It may sound strange to be envious of the Milwaukee Bucks and their fans, but in a weird way, I sort of am. It's fun to be a team with absolutely no expectations. Like, if Milwaukee won 40 games this year, that'd be considered quite a coup, and everyone would feel good about themselves, fans included.

If they lose 60 games, on the other hand, I doubt anyone would be surprised, or even that disappointed. Basically, fans going to the games don't have to worry about wins, and maybe this stems from the way I was reared (as a diehard Wizards fan, veteran of many losing campaigns), but sometimes that can be more fun.

Teams like the Pistons and Bulls have slightly above-average rotations and nary a dream of winning a title, yet because of past success and pressure on the respective front offices, each squad is expected to make the playoffs. Hence, there's pressure with each game, and tension that extends to the fans. With a bad team like the Bucks, fans don't have to worry about any of that, and can instead focus their energy on soaking in all the aesthetic pleasures of a pro basketball game--highlight dunks, no-look passes, or the goofy 10th man that blatantly watches the jumbotron during each timeout.

Seriously. When you're caught up in the heat of the moment, you miss those things. Like watching the interplay between a couple of old college teammates, or trash talk that slowly escalates from "fun," to "kinda serious," to "uh-oh, that guy just got kneed in the groin." It's all fun. The peripheral aspects of the game provide every bit the theater that a good game does.

None of which is to say that NBA basketball isn't good enough to sell itself--there's nothing that beats the tense atmosphere of a fourth quarter game between two great teams. But absent that--and believe me, those games aren't particularly in the NBA regular season--it's sometimes kind of liberating to just go to a game and hang out, detached from the suspense of the outcome, and relaxed. So enjoy it, Bucks fans, because before long you're going to be battling it out for the sixth playoff spot in the East--too stressed to notice something like Andrew Bogut ogling groupies during the timeout, or worse, too invested to find it hilarious.

(P.S. Um, does Milwaukee have groupies?)

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