Picking an NBA team to follow

My friend Paul Suellentrop is an NBA guy. A few years back, he dedicated himself to picking a team (the Phoenix Suns) and steadfastly following that team. He’s still a Suns fan, he says, and presumably can’t wait for the NBA season to start next week.

Good for Paul, who buys the NBA package and watches a bunch of games on television, even though he’s supremely busy during the late fall and winter months covering Wichita State basketball.

My point here is that, honestly, I don’t have an NBA team. I’m one of those people who almost ignores the regular season, except for a peek now and then, satisfied that the two months of playoffs is enough of an NBA season for me.

Last season, I was for the Miami Heat to win a championship. Let me rephrase that: I wasn’t so much pulling for the Heat as I was pulling for LeBron James to finally win a title and get some people off of his back. Now, still not five months after the fact, the mood concerning LeBron in this country has changed drastically. We (mostly) love him again, especially after he helped lead the U.S.A. to an Olympic gold medal in London.

But I’m not really a devout Heat fan. If made the pick a team, that’s probably the one I would go with. But it seems too easy to me and I feel like I should pick an NBA team, like Paul, that perhaps isn’t the favorite to win a championship.

So which team?

You would think I would just jump on board with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That team is just down the road, after all. The Thunder has some likeable stars and a good coach in Scott Brooks. But for some reason, I’m not a Thunder fan. Remember, I pulled for the Heat in the NBA Finals last season.

Let’s start by eliminating some teams I’m not going to jump on board with. It’s got to be a team that has a reasonable chance of advancing in the playoffs. I’m not going to invest a bunch of energy in the Sacramento Kings, for instance, even though the Kings have former Kansas standout Thomas Robinson and a bunch of other good, young talent. But what the Kings don’t have is leadership or the ability to win many games. So they’re out.

The Lakers are out, too. I could never, ever like the Lakers because I was such a Celtics guy during the 1980s.

Utah. Out.

Memphis. No, sorry.

Portland doesn’t do it for me. Neither does Golden State or Phoenix (sorry, Paul). I used to like Houston back in the Elvin Hayes days, but that was a long time ago.

I can’t be an Atlanta Hawks fan, although I’m not really sure why. I do not care for the New York Knicks and I’m not going to waste my time with Toronto, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Washington, Orlando or Charlotte.

By my count, I have eliminated 18 teams. That leaves 12 still on the board, including the Heat. But that’s just too easy, so I’m reluctantly going to eliminate Miami. I might catch you guys in the playoffs again, though.

I’ve been there, done that with Boston, so the Celtics are eliminated. I can’t go with the Chicago Bulls because of Joakim Noah and even though I like Doug Collins as a coach and think Philadelphia is a team to watch, I can’t do the 76ers, either.

Sorry, Indiana, you’re eliminated, too.

So are the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, although it’s not easy to discard the Spurs. I’m knocking the Dallas Mavericks off my list, too. And despite heralded rookie Anthony Davis, I can’t get on board with the New Orleans Hornets.

That leaves three teams: the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Brooklyn Nets.

Wow. This isn’t going exactly like I thought it would.

But this process of elimination has been painstaking and this is what I have.

Denver? I do like the Nuggets’ coach, George Karl. And I like Denver’s style, in which a lot of players contribute. The acquisition of Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia should help a good team become better. But I’m not just feeling it for Denver the way I should feel it for a team I’m going to follow for an entire NBA season. So I have to dismiss the Nuggets, with apology.

Minnesota and Brooklyn? Seriously, those are my choices?

First, Minnesota. In Kevin Love (injured, out for a significant amount of time) and Ricky Rubio, the ‘Wolves have two young and exciting players. I’m thinking Derrick Williams, wildly inconsistent as a rookie after being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, might be a third. He’ll certainly have to step up big in Love’s absence. I could like this team. But with Love out, I’m going to take a pass for now.

So, ladies and gentlemen, my team for the 2012-13 NBA season is the Brooklyn Nets.

This, my friends, is a pretty decent starting five: PG – Deron Williams; SG – Joe Johnson; SF – Gerald Wallace; PF – Kris Humphries; C – Brook Lopez. Johnson really brings this team to life, having come over from the Atlanta Hawks. He’s a big-time scorer and the Nets have some offensive weapons.

A bench? OK, maybe not so much. In fact, I wasn’t even sure who Brooklyn’s coach was before I looked it up. It’s Avery Johnson, a guy I like.

Believe it or not, I’m feeling excited about my newest team and vow to stay with them for at least a week or two. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. This is the perfect fit between fan and team. If I had been born in one of the buroughs of NYC, I would have wanted it to be Brooklyn. I think it’s cool that a team has re-located there.

OK, that’s it. I’m a Brooklyn Nets fan. And we’re going to have just an outstanding season together.