The three things we really want in NBA, NHL conference finals

Ray Ratto
NBC Sports BayArea
<p>When it comes to the playoffs, envy and hatred fuels sports fandom far more than joy and celebration.</p>

The three things we really want in NBA, NHL conference finals

When it comes to the playoffs, envy and hatred fuels sports fandom far more than joy and celebration.

The conference finals have been set in both the NBA and NHL, and your level of satisfaction will be defined by how quickly your team eliminates the other person's team. Fandom is schadenfreude, after all, and being happy for yourself necessarily involves making someone you know unhappy. It is, in fact, the thing that separates us from the animals.
 
Well, that and the general sense of purpose and dignity animals have that we don't, but that's a story for the next installment of Species Degradation Magazine.
 
With that in mind, and with Rockets-Warriors specifically, here's what we want – what we really want:
 
       1. For all four series – Rockets-Warriors, Celtics-Cavaliers, Jets-Golden Knights and Lightning-Capitals – to go seven games. Seven games is one of the three moments of absolute crystalline perfection in sports history, along with the bracket and the moment Arnold Rothstein thought to himself,            "Hey, let's get the gang together and fix a World Series." More games are better by definition, and this is not disputable.
 
       2. For all 28 games to go into overtime, again because longer games are better than shorter games. This is probably unrealistic, but we have millions of playing the lottery, daily fantasy sports and mock drafts, so reality isn't really something we're that interested in.
 
       3. And finally, for every road team to win every game.
 
This last one has actually never happened (the closest any series ever went to going full overtime was Coyotes-Blackhawks in 2012, when the first five games went bonus), but it will have an important feature that should happen.
 
The haunting scenes of a building emptying in 40 seconds, morose fans filing out with their hopes mauled and their dreams crushed, with only the thought that a league executive handing the trophy to the other guys will be booed as comfort.
 
And why is this important? Because crowd shots of delirious fans are tiresome and repetitive and even phony because fans, like players, mug to the camera way too quickly now, and nobody needs that.
 
Of course, nobody needs shots of children crying hysterically (and on cue, in most cases) at the sight of their favorite team losing, but at least the kid is learning a useful lesson about life – namely, that it is a series of modified employment disappointments, followed by a hip replacement and then the debilitation of old age, and that your favorite team will help you with none of it.
 
We can't say that there would be upsets to warm one's heart because in the case of the two NBA series, the favorite either by Vegas or pundit definition is the lower seed. And in the NHL, while it would mean that Vegas would win the Stanley Cup, there would be plenty of people who would grouse that the fan base there didn't earn it by learning about suffering – in the same way that Colorado Avalanche fans caught hell for getting a Stanley Cup champion in 1995, their first year after lifting the team from Quebec.
 
And that's the underlying story here – for every happy fan base, there are 29 or 30 grinding their teeth in envy and hatred, and only a few can have the visceral satisfaction of their coach being fired. And envy and hatred fuels sports fandom far more than joy and celebration.
 
So let's go deep, and give everyone what they want until they don't want it any more. The maximum number of games, the most minutes beyond regulation it is legal to have without players collapsing in cramping heaps, and fans grousing between games about what is wrong with their otherwise wildly successful favorite team.
 
It's nirvana, I tell you. You just have never thought of it that way before.

























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