A Guide to Picking Your Second Favorite Team

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I’ve spent the entire first month and a half of the season gauging potential reactions to this horrible start by the New York Knicks. I thought about writing another super vindictive piece about Carmelo Anthony in the vein of “Nobody’s Favorite Knick,” but I don’t really have anything new to say, except that I’m ready to start an official countdown towards the return of fat Raymond Felton (over/under February 15).

I could’ve done something directed at James Dolan, but what sportswriter hasn’t done that? It’s just low hanging fruit. I suppose I could’ve ignored it, but I’ve built a career off of being a really annoyed and downright bitter Jets/Mets/Knicks fan and I’m not quite ready to change that.

But after just 21 games, this season is already so far down the toilet that the only slight solace I can find in it is that Brooklyn has been just as bad, but 100 times more entertaining in getting there. We’ve fallen with some element of grace; they might as well have tripped onto a Whoopee Cushion.

This season is over, and now I’m suddenly staring at seven more months of basketball without someone to root for. Every fan base in the East probably feels the same way along with the Kings and Jazz out West and, as much as I hate to say it, Seattle up north.

I need a new team to root for, so I’ve decided to use this space to come up with a universal method of selecting a second favorite team. Ideally, this method will work in all sports, but will obviously need slight amendments out of common sense. The path we’re going to take is about me picking my second favorite team. It may work for you as well, but if it doesn’t, just follow these rules on your own.

Oh, and one last thing. Second favorite teams don’t have to be permanent. It makes no sense to have a backup team in the lottery. The whole purpose is to give you something real to root for. As long as the team you’ve chosen remains relevant and fits the conditions we’re about to describe, they are your second favorite team. Once they don’t, feel free to pick again. Alright, let’s dive in.

Step One: Eliminate Any Team in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami

Eliminates for me: Nets, Celtics, Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, Heat

All five of those cities are insufferable. I’m from New York and hold Miami in incredibly high regard after spending my formative years there, but both of them are insufferable when it comes to sports. Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago are just as bad. Rooting for one of them to win for any reason beyond “it’s on my birth certificate” is essentially rooting for Globo Gym in Dodgeball. Of course they’re going to win, they have more money, more resources, more talent and that East German chick. It’s just a cop out. Any team from those cities gets immediately knocked out.

Step Two: Eliminate Any Team in Your Own Conference

George Hill BullsEliminates for me: Pacers, Hawks, Bobcats, Wizards, Pistons, Bulls, Cavaliers, Raptors, Magic, 76ers, Bucks

Let me put it this way: if you were cheating on your wife, you probably wouldn’t do it with your next door neighbor, right? You’d probably get on a plane to Cleveland, throw on an overcoat and fake moustache, and tell your mistress to meet you at “the rendezvous point,” which is really just a booth at Chili’s.

Way too many complications might arise if you choose a team in your conference. You play them four times every year, and if you’re both remotely decent, there’s always going to be the possibility of a playoff series. Even if you don’t, you’re always going to be jockeying for position.

But the odds of meeting a team in the other conference in the playoffs? 1 in 225. I like those odds. It might happen, but don’t bet on it. The whole point of picking a second favorite team is that your team sucks and this one doesn’t, so your allegiance is probably going to be tested at some point. If you’re going to leave your wife, at least have the dignity to move to Cleveland afterwards.

Step Three: Eliminate Any Team that has Beaten Your Team in the Finals in Your Lifetime

Eliminates for me: Spurs, Rockets

Fans are supposed to be bitter. You watched (or, more accurately, cried and spit up on someone who watched) these guys beat your favorite team with everything on the line. It’s alright to drop your flags every now and then, but doing it for a team that’s taken a ring from you just comes off as bandwagon-y. Having your friends call you a front runner really takes all of the fun out of an activity that’s entirely designed to be fun.

Step Four: Eliminate Any Team Whose Best Player Already has a Ring

Eliminates for me: Mavericks

Who really needs to see Dirk win ring No. 2? Who does that serve? Yeah, it’d be nice and I really like the guy as someone who comes from a family of Mavericks fans, but rooting for ring No. 2 isn’t nearly as fun as rooting for ring No. 1. You want to give yourself the possibility of an actual emotional payoff with this pick, and going with someone who already has a ring really minimizes that.

Step Five: Eliminate Dwight Howard

Eliminates for me: Rockets (again)

Any objections? No? Cool, let’s put this one on the list. Screw Dwight Howard.

Step Six: Eliminate Any Team that Doesn’t Have At Least Some Prospect of Contending

Eliminates for me: Kings, Jazz, Pelicans, Grizzlies

Again, what’s the point? By now, your list should be pretty narrow, so we’ll start the actual selection process.

Step Seven: Compile Your Remaining Options

My remaining options: Blazers, Thunder, Nuggets, Suns, Warriors, Timberwolves

From now on, we’re going to go question by question to either select or eliminate the final handful of teams. Feel free to stop once you've found your team.

Step Eight: Consider Any Team With Connections to Your Family

Teams I’d consider: Nuggets

My dad’s entire side of the family lives in Denver and he’s a huge Nuggets fan. The problem? When I was seven years old my dad went to a Broncos-Jets game without me and ever since we’ve been incredibly hostile about each other’s teams. Sorry, Nuggets are out.

Step Nine: Consider Any Teams You’ve Publicly Displayed Strong Opinions About

Teams I’d consider: Suns

The second most satisfying feeling a sports fan can have (after winning a championship) is being right. Is there a team that you’ve publicly displayed any sort of strong opinion about? If so, was that opinion positive or negative?

In the case of the Suns, that opinion is negative. I’m in an admittedly awkward position here because I’m a sportswriter, and therefore my opinions on every team are public. But the Suns are the only team I’ve vehemently ranted against left on this list, and as such, I’ve got to knock them off. And honestly? Good riddance. Nobody wants to see Robert Sarver get a ring.

Step 10: Consider Any Team That Plays Similarly to Your Team

Steph CurryTeams I’d consider: Warriors

Again, consider the cheating on your wife analogy. If you’re married to a blonde, your mistress is either going to be a blonde, because that’s what you’re in to, or it’s going to be Kimbo Slice, because you need a change of pace. When applying this to basketball, you can take it in either direction. Some people want a team that plays exactly like their team does because it proves that their system can work. Others are so sick of their team that they need one that diametrically opposes what they do.

In my case, I’m so sick of the Knicks that I just don’t want to deal with a similar team. So I’m sorry Golden State, you’re out.

Step 11: Consider Any Player You Share Personal Connections With

Teams I’d consider: Timberwolves, Thunder, Trailblazers

This puts me in an awkward spot. Minnesota’s out unless Ricky Rubio responds to all of my fan mail.

That leaves Oklahoma City and Portland. My mom went to the University of Texas, so until I went to the University of Miami, I was a Longhorns fan and still am in a limited capacity today.

I’ve rooted for every significant former Longhorn in the NBA today. Oklahoma City’s best player is Kevin Durant. He went to the University of Texas. Portland’s best player in LaMarcus Aldridge. He went to the University of Texas. There’s no other significant Longhorns on either roster to break the tie. Royal Ivey played for OKC a few years ago, but that’s hardly a fair tiebreaker.

Step 12: Consider the Fan Base of Each Remaining Team

Here’s what breaks the tie for me. Oklahoma City is going to be good for the next decade. They’re also fairly new to the NBA as a whole. But, Portland fans have suffered. They know my pain as a Knicks fan, and watching them finally win a post-Walton title would actually mean something.

I don’t care if Oklahoma City gets to celebrate, but it’d be fun to root for the Blazers as they finally overcome the ghosts of Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant. Even if they come up short, I’d rather go along for that ride than cram myself into an already overflowing Oklahoma City bandwagon.

My second favorite team for the 2013-14 NBA season is the Portland Trail Blazers.

Trail Blazers

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