Why I Love the Bottom Feeders

“Do you remember that one guy that played for State?” “Yeah, whatever happened to him, he was pretty good?” Well I’ll tell you what happened to him, he just made the roster of the bottom feeder near you. If you are still unaware of what a bottom feeder is, it is a team that perpetually uses terminology such as rebuilding, long-term plan, development and potential when describing its team’s future.
The future of a bottom feeder tends to lie in its past. How this team has been doing for the past 5-10 years is precisely how it will continue to do as the present season develops. However, the very reasons that this team remains at the bottom is exactly why many of the fans continue to come and support and admire many of its prominent players. These teams are often laden with very talented athletes and exciting players, they score in entertaining fashion and do breathtaking theatrical feat through the air that remain at the tail end of many ESPN highlight countdowns. They often play hard in big games just before bowing out at the end leaving the fans believing in a brighter future and jerseys selling at a steady rate.
You’ve seen them play before and will probably recognize your team if you read this article carefully. The star player is often a gifted athlete who has explosive scoring outbursts and numbers that keep suggesting he was “robbed!” as the all-star rosters are chosen. The fact is that he may be that exciting and immensely talented but his team can’t win and won’t, but that’s ok. I love seeing him partake in scoring exhibitions back and forth with the great players on opposing teams and even overtaking them for the occasional moral victory. The star players are generally traded at some point when the cost of keeping them overtakes their value in produced wins and team revenue, only to see them leave and play a valuable role on a playoff bound team’s run for a title.
Few of these teams will take extreme measures to leave the bottom cellar of the league, ridding themselves of the inconsistent, unproductive excitement for the consistently mundane but productive all for the chance to shed its past and give its loyal fans the reward they dream of, becoming a middle-of-the-pack team that I have deemed the “Mercurial Middle-man” team (see upcoming article).
Until then, if this is your team, enjoy the excitement and fun that your team brings each night. Sure they’ll frustrate you at times, leave you wanting as playoffs come around and disappear when it’s time for all-star balloting (besides that’s what the slam dunk and three-point shoot out events were for) but rest assure you will be entertained, isn’t that what games are for?


Don’t Let the Smooth Taste Fool You


Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here is some unsolicited insight to temper expectations about the upcoming NBA season. During each off-season each team attempts to do something noteworthy to convince it’s fans, the consumer, of why they should continue to buy the product or support their team through buying tickets, jerseys, watching televised games and maintaining interest in this upcoming season.

Unfortunately, most of this tends to be a lot of false hype, blue smoke, the proverbial banana in the tailpipe (see Eddie Murphy “Beverly Hills Cop”)  and that’s ok, as long you don’t take the bait.  Just nibble on it as most fish do my bait when my dad and I go fishing. 

Teams will sell you many lines such as the “rookie sensation”, the “big trade acquisition”, the maturing young players that are about to “take their games (and subsequently their teams) to the next level” and so on.  When the players hit the court what you tend to witness is little variation from the original script sold the year before. 

To keep a proper perspective, LeBron James and Kevin Durant who both led their respective teams to the NBA Finals last season both missed the playoffs the first two seasons of their careers, with gradual improvements in success the following years.  Considering twenty-eight of the other teams in the league who do not have one of the two arguably best players in the league we might assume that marginal improvement to be the average expected goal of each team.

So when you’re putting together your NBA Fantasy League and regurgitating new proclamations of your team’s future success (which is half the fun of being a fan) remember that the hype is just that, something to chew on, nibble, take a big whiff and a long look at, but don’t buy.  As the season begins enjoy the excitement of renewed possibilities of higher success, cheer as your team gives their all and don’t stop bragging about, making excuses for and hoping from within, but temper your expectations so you enjoy the game for the game’s sake and not some business strategy to sell for the sake of increasing revenue and apparel sails.