As part of the pregame fluff on TNT tonight, they showed a split screen of Pat Riley and Joe Dumars, then cut to footage of Dumars during the great "Bad Boy" years of the eighties championship Pistons. Boy howdy, were they good. It put me in mind of the years when my oldest sons were playing basketball--they were in grade school--and they'd say, "I'm Dennis Rodman" (this, of course, before the full-on freak show began, and Rodman was just a big-eared monster rebounder), or "I'm Isaiah." I loved them even back then, because they were the anti-Lakers--unpretty, except for Isaiah, hard physical play, etc.
That was when the Laker loathing began for me, even though those were some pretty great Lakers. (I actually met Magic Johnson in an airport, and he was pretty cute, shaking the chubby little hand of my baby daughter.) I think I loathed their fans most of all--all those Hollywood types. Come on. How much character did it take to be a fan of the Lakers, most of the time? Real fans have to go through horrible seasons, non-luxury-tax-inducing-salary-enhanced rosters, listening to national television announcers engage in Laker idolatry . . . the sufferings go on, the sufferings that make true fans. Laker fans, on the other hand, are pampered, spoiled, annoying brats.
Hence, the Bad Boys of Detroit seemed just the antidote. Still true. Though the Indiana incident early this season did seem a throwback to the Badness, in truth, only Rasheed Wallace seems to offer a true homage to it these days. (And may I say that I nurture a great fondness for this player, who once was given technical fouls for glaring?)
Lastly, let me say that I am loving the conference championships, in part because the national announcers have no team before which to engage in idolatry, and thus seem to be commenting on the game as it actually unfolds.