West is Best (Again)
December 19, 2003
by William K. Wolfrum
Normally the first paragraph or two of this award-winning column is dedicated to making a few folksy jokes, being whimsical and leading into what we columnists like to refer to as “the subject.”
In the case of this column, however, all whimsy has been destroyed by “the subject,” which is too painful to act jocular about. That subject? That the Eastern Conference of the NBA is so bad it’s painful.
Ever since Jerry Krause and crew in Chicago decided that winning championships had lost its glamour, the Eastern Conference has been sort of like MTV’s “Real World.” Sure you’ll watch it sometimes, but you’ll never admit it to anyone and you end up feeling less of yourself.
Over in the Western Conference we have the Lakers, Spurs, Kings, Mavericks, Timberwolves, Rockets, and even the surprise, Midwest-leading Nuggets. It’s like an endless basketball carnival.
In the East, well, Indiana is still doing decently, even though they may be the worst 19-7 team in NBA history. Aside from the Pacers, it’s hard to keep up with the mediocrity. There’s a team in New York that stinks. One in Cleveland that’s worse. Boston is mediocre. I’m not sure but I think there’s now a team in Vermont or New Hampshire, and they suck, too.
The way things stand right now, the Atlantic Division in the East has one team over .500, and not by very much. Philadelphia’s at 13-12, and with Iverson gone for a month, things will get much more grim. By comparison, in the Midwest Division in the West, EVERY team is over .500. Utah, at 13-12 is in last place.
Overall the picture gets worse. The combined record of Eastern teams this season is 165-216. The West is 194-143.
But it’s not even the records that tell the true story. The true story is that there is no way that the East will win the NBA championship this year. None. Zip. Other word for zip. The Pacers are mediocre at best. New Orleans is likely the most exciting team in the East, but they are a paltry 5-5 against the West, including a blowout loss to Portland on Thursday.
Which brings us to the final statistic. Eastern basketball is just plain boring. The Milwaukee Bucks, at a whopping 95.8, are averaging the most points per game in the East. In the West, the Kings average 104, and the Lakers and Mavericks are at 102.
With the Nets looking like they are imploding, perhaps it will be the Hornets’ year to get butchered against the Lakers/Kings/Spurs in the NBA Finals. If anyone says differently, it’s a big lie. Just like the first paragraph line about this being an award-winning column.