A group of NBA owners announced the launch of a 29-team super league on Thursday, prompting strong backlash from eight people in Minnesota and confusion from everyone else as to how anything would be different.
The plan includes splitting the teams into two conferences with three divisions in each, using those groupings to help create an 82-game regular season schedule. The playoffs will included a 1-8 seeding format for each conference with winning percentage determining the regular season standings, and seven-game series will feature in each round. The league’s name will not be changed.
Fans across the country have been perplexed by the move, questioning how it changes much of anything from the NBA they’ve known for decades.
“I don’t understand,” said Kermit Erasmus, a New York Knicks fan and watcher of the NBA since 1989. “The regular season stays the same, the playoffs stay the same, the teams stay the same. I don’t see any difference between this and the NBA I’ve known my whole life.”
Eager to take up my place as a voice for the voiceless, I made it my journalistic mission to get to the bottom of this hoopla. I tracked down Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss to explain to me the difference between the past NBA and new NBA.
“The NBA that fans have loved for generations will remain the same,” Buss said. “There is no cause for alarm. No one will miss the Minnesota Timberwolves.”
Bewildered, I asked Buss why she and rest of the owners felt the need to reject the more than 2,000 wolves that are living in Minnesota, none of whom have opposable thumbs and can’t play anyway, and certainly can’t play basketball at an NBA level.
“Oh boy, Raymond,” she said, putting her hand on my shoulder and taking advantage of a teachable moment. “We’re gonna have to have a talk.”
That’s when I learned – for decades, there has been a ragtag militia of rogue basketball players in Minnesota who have pretended to be an NBA team. They mill around arenas long enough for other NBA teams to humor them with games, then disappear by no later than April every season to never be heard from again until they randomly appear again in October. Some say the team is cursed, others say it’s never truly existed. But Buss said she’s just sick of them taking her money.
“The NBA makes a lot of money, and us owners share it all at the end,” Buss said. “We’ve been giving the Minnesota Timberwolves 1/30th of the money for years and years when they’ve done nothing to deserve it. Me and the other owners, we’re sick of it. Mark Cuban could have had a second island by now.”
My reality was shattered. There’s been a 30th NBA team all this time that I didn’t know about? Dismayed, I tasked myself with tracking down one of the eight really angry people in Minnesota. Through a series of mind-numbing small talks and having to wade through hot dish after hot dish, I finally found a member of the upset group.
“The Minnesota Timberwolves have sucked all the joy from my life,” Minnesota native Olaf Gustafsson said. “Without them, I might find something productive to do with my time and energy. But then what would I do with all this anger?
“Have you ever had something you hate ripped away from you by people you don’t even know, who don’t even know who you are and what you do?” he asked, tears beginning to well up in his eyes and drip softly onto his thick, red and black flannel. “Now there’s nothing left to create a hole in my heart.”
I comforted Gustafsson that the Vikings, Twins, Wild, and Gophers all still play in Minnesota and will always suck.
I returned to New York to deliver the news to Erasmus.
“The who? Never heard of ’em,” Erasmus asked me, giving me a puzzled look before returning back to flipping the rats on his grill. “Hey, you want in on his catch? Fresh from this morning. You only find ’em juicy like this in the Bronx.”
Always open to trying regional cuisines, I accepted my rat sandwich and pondered the whirlwind of reality that had been placed at my doorstep. What other truths are there that I don’t know? What other illusions am I living under? And how can I uncover pure truth? Does such a thing even exist?
Then, as rat carcass and lettuce hung from the edge of my mouth as I gnawed on New York’s finest, I realized something that changed my life forever – ignorance is bliss, and rat doesn’t taste nearly as good as it looks.