In February of 2011, I survived a football fan's worst nightmare.
The Green Bay Packers, whom I had been raised all of my Bears-loving life to despise, were headed to the Super Bowl. Worse yet, they were playing the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by Ben Roethlisberger, one of the most unsavory quarterbacks in NFL history. (Innocent until proven guilty is not always the rule in the court of my personal opinion.)
Super Bowl Sunday just might be my favorite day of the year, and I found my love for the big game spoiled by a complete and utter distaste for both teams involved. I didn't want my team's biggest rival to win and get bragging rights, but I certainly didn't want to see Roethlisberger hoisting the Lombardi Trophy mere months after being suspended for his second alleged sexual assault.
I was, as the kids these days say, rooting for the proverbial meteor.
The 2012 NBA Finals must have Seattle hoops fans conjuring up chimerical asteroids as well. While most media outlets and fans are billing the Thunder-Heat matchup as a classic battle between good and evil, fans of the now-defunct Seattle SuperSonics are finding it tough to see any good in these Finals.
For them, watching the Thunder play for the title must feel a bit like watching the receiver you accidentally left on the bench score four touchdowns in your fantasy football playoffs. Or finding out the guy who just broke up with you had front-row seats for tomorrow night's Springsteen concert. Or remembering that the jacket your college roommate took home for the summer had a $100 bill in the pocket.
Those touchdowns, those tickets, that money, THAT TITLE. Those were supposed to be yours!
Oklahoma City is led by one of the most highly touted draft picks in SuperSonics history, Kevin Durant. He was supposed to represent the next generation of Sonics. He was supposed to be the key piece in Seattle's championship puzzle.
Sonics fans enjoyed just one season of Durant in the green and gold before team owner Clay Bennett shipped him and the rest of the squad off to Oklahoma City. Four years later, the puzzle is almost finished, but the pieces are all blue and orange.
It's easy to understand why Seattleites hate the Thunder. I can just picture Sonics fans now, gathering at a bar to openly, brazenly root against OKC. And yet, it's tough to picture them rooting for the Heat. And the thing is, when it's down to just two teams, there's no way around it: If you're rooting against one, that means you're rooting for the other.
But can Seattle's finest really cheer against the eminently likable Kevin Durant rather than the NBA's most polarizing man, LeBron James? Does the skinny young kid who hugs his mom midgame and quietly re-upped for another five years in a flyover state really deserve their wrath more than the flashy, flopping diva who took his talents to a beach with a basketball team nearby?
If Seattle fans cheer against the Thunder, won't it be a case of misdirected anger? It doesn't seem fair for OKC players and fans to be held accountable for the moves Bennett made. Do fans blame Blake Griffin for Donald Sterling's failings? Is Matt Kemp getting any heat for Frank McCourt's running the Dodgers into the ground?
And what about the fans in Oklahoma City, who have certainly proved they deserve a team. While OKC is filling its building with crazed hoops-heads, Heat employees have to put cheat sheets on their seats to remind Floridians to "fan up." (That is, once they get to the stadium midway through the first half.) Can Sonics fans really root for a city that seems far less deserving of an NBA team than Seattle?
I realize my feelings about the Heat aren't universal, but I do believe there are more Heat haters than people who'd like to see them win. If there ever was a team that could make Seattle fans cheer for the Thunder, Miami would be it. It's gotta be more fun than rooting for the meteor.