Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I know cheering for the Nuggets against the Lakers is like cheering for the Timberwolves in 2004's conference finals, an act that will inevitably lead to disappointment. But, I'm going to anyway.
I'm going to finally set aside the wounds from one of the worst moments in my life as a basketball fan(aside from the Sonics actually leaving) and root for the Nuggets. Why? George Karl. My favorite coach for the Sonics taking a middling team to heights unseen just like he did with the Sonics and Bucks. He's smug, he's a bit of an ass, but I like him.
Why is it as a sports fan that you remember the worst moments so vividly. I remember everything about Mothers Day 1994 when the Nuggets, at 42-40 beat the 63-19 Sonics in Game 5 to win the series. I remember opening up the Seattle Times and a sign with "NOT IN OUR HOUSE" written in big block letters fell out. I remember not being able to watch most of the game because we were going to the Woodland Park zoo with my grandparents. I remember watching the first five minutes where the Sonics blazed out of the gate trying to end the series once and for all. I remember bringing a walkman so I could listen to the game as we walked throughout the zoo and various people asking what the score was. I remember at the end of the fourth quarter thinking the Sonics were finished before Kevin Calabro started screaming because Kendal Gill made an improbable shot. And I remember my nine year old self fighting back tears as Lafonso Ellis made a three point play and then Mutumbo grabbing the last rebound. This utterly scarred me.
Yet once again, the following year I was back on the bandwagon, the Sonics roared through the regular season again but this time it was Nick Van Exel, Eldin Campbell and the Lakers summarily dispatching the Sonics in four games. I've never fully recovered, the 1996 season helped and I found myself a couple years ago watching the game again on ESPN Classic, noticing things my nine year old self never could have. The Sonics playing tighter than a drum, missing free throws, open jumpshots, getting caught in their achilles heel, the halfcourt game. God that was awful.
The Nuggets are back now, instead of Robert Pack, Mutumbo, Lafonso Ellis and Reggie Williams, its Carmelo, Kenyon, Chauncey and Nene. They'll probably lose, but I'm hoping they'll break a few Laker legs in the process.

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