By Rich Jensen
Have you seen the NBA standings lately?
If you have, you already know where I’m going with this.
Why is the Eastern Conference so bad?
Well, let’s take a team-by-team and city-by-city look at the Eastern Conference, featuring the tremendous drawbacks of each city along with each team’s attempt to deal with those drawbacks. Because, let’s face it. If you’re a free agent, and you have your choice between Cleveland and Los Angeles. Or San Francisco. Or Portland. Or Denver. Or Dallas… Well, you get the picture…..
Drawbacks: A stiflingly hot city that does not have a beach. Also boring, unless you like food that is incredibly bad for you. Or unless you like entertainment that could land you in court.
Most famous landmark: Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. The most famous landmark in Atlanta is a facility that is used primarily by people who are not from Atlanta and who are going somewhere other than Atlanta.
Team Strategy: Hire a new GM every five years, “free up cap space,” and then spend it on the kind of people who want to play in Atlanta.
Drawbacks: Cold weather (because, apparently, NBA players can’t afford cars or apartments or houses with furnaces). Taxes. Boston fans.
Most famous landmark: It used to be the Old North Church. It is now David Ortiz’s beard.
Team Strategy: Run team like a business. Call players assets. Build team by taking advantage of stupid GMs and old teammates.
Drawbacks: Once home to salt-of-the-earth types, middle class professionals, blue-collar folk, the borough is now infested by hideous imitations of these people: Hipsters. All of whom are working in professions that you are not qualified to work in, doing stuff that you wouldn’t understand, and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon because it’s terrible.
Most famous landmark: The Brooklyn Bridge. Which is mostly in Manhattan.
Team Strategy: Buy a $500,000 Ferrari and give the keys to a fourteen-year-old kid as a birthday present.
Drawbacks: Another very hot city without a beach. Also, a “small market” city, which means that doing things on the “dl” is almost impossible. What would a basketball player want to do on the “dl”? Oh, you know, leaving one’s dogs outside, getting into a fight with a champagne bottle, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most famous landmark: Uh, the football stadium, I guess?
Team Strategy: Whatever Michael Jordan wants.
Drawbacks: Wind (because playing outdoors is really hard on you, 41 games a — oh, wait, they don’t play outdoors in Chicago, do they?). Chicago fans.
Most famous landmark: Something that used to be called the Sears Tower, and which people are still calling the Sears Tower, or some variant thereof.
Team Strategy: Derrick Rose’s connective tissue. Antagonizing the best coach the team has had since Phil Jackson.
Drawbacks: You remember that guy who was really popular in high school, but never really adjusted to life after that? That’s Cleveland. They’re still trying to figure out post-industrial America.
Most famous landmark: The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Which is basically the “Friends of Jann Wenner Club.”
Team Strategy: Next summer, they’re going to send Lebron a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers, and a framed picture of him celebrating Kyrie Irving winning the three point contest.
Most famous landmark: The Motown Studios. “Hitsville USA”. Fitting. Because Motown Records left Detroit decades ago. Just like half the people who used to live there.
Team Strategy: Trying to be better than the Milwaukee Bucks.
Drawbacks: Most residents still watch Green Acres, and can relate to its humor.
Most famous landmark: Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Formerly: Peyton Manning.
Team Strategy: Seen Hoosiers? That.
Drawbacks: You’re in Florida.
Most famous landmark: Sand next to water. Really. This is a major thing for lots of people.
Team Strategy: “WWJBD” What would Jerry Buss Do? This is why they hired Pat Riley. Also the team has several people who are responsible for keeping Beasley away from head shops and Chris Andersen away from the Internet.
Drawbacks: It’s basically Chicago with worse architecture and more beer. Also it is much smaller than Chicago. So, if you want to celebrate the birth of your child a few days early by smashing a champagne bottle over someone’s head in a nightclub and lacerating your hand, you know, people are going to hear about it. And be upset about it.
Most famous landmark: The Allen-Bradley Clock Tower. It’s Shaq’s wristwatch.
Team Strategy: Tread water, baby!
Drawbacks: It’s the last city in the US with more than two newspapers. And two of the newspapers are those ones with the small pages and big letters. And the easiest way to sell those papers is by writing mean stuff about famous people. New York fans have exactly two emotions: Anger and Entitlement. If you lose, they’re mad at you, and if you win, well, that’s what you’re paid to do. If you can survive that for fifteen years (minimum), they’ll let you into the family. Maybe.
Most famous landmark: Manhattan
Team Strategy: Still trying to coast on the legacy of that 1972 title. Also, apparently they suffer from the delusion that Madison Square Garden (which is not a square, not a garden, and nowhere near Madison Ave.) is a selling point for some reason.
Drawbacks: Yet another very hot city without a beach. Also the city is incredibly fun for children ages 4 to 12, which means that it is incredibly boring for everyone else.
Most famous landmark: Harry P. Leu Gardens. Well, either that or Walt Disney World. It’s a tossup.
Team Strategy: Orlando is basically Atlanta. Except people stay slightly longer at Orlando’s landmark. So Orlando’s strategy is basically Atlanta’s strategy. Every five years, you start over. And find players who want to play in Orlando instead of Miami.
Drawbacks: Philadelphia fans.
Most famous landmark: A bell that was broken after the Philadelphia Eagles lost the 1776 NFL Championship Game to the New York Football Giants.
Team Strategy: Whatever everyone else is doing that year. Is it 2012? We’re building a super team with a monster trade. Is it 2013? We’re tanking for the #1 spot in the lottery.
Drawbacks: You’re in Canada, which is pretty much Minnesota, the country. People talk weird and care too much about (or, more correctly, ‘abooot’) hockey.
Most famous landmark: The CN Tower. Which is a concrete olive on a steel toothpick.
Team Strategy: Periodically playing basketball as a way of reminding the city that the team does, in fact, exist.
Drawbacks: JFK described Washington thus: “It’s a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” Basically, any time your city becomes a synonym for something that doesn’t work, you have problems.
Most famous landmark: The Capitol. Notable for having the largest front lawn and porch in the United States. It does not have the largest dome. The Texas Capitol has a larger dome because that’s just how Texans compensate for being in Texas.
Team Strategy: Although Michael Jordan left years ago, it seems like he’s still hanging around, making decisions.
About the author: Rich Jensen is a frequent contributor to TVFury who believes his beloved Celtics would have won 8 titles in the ’80s if they’d had Nate Wolters at point.