The Witness Protection Program.

To think of all the hours I spent pouring over mock drafts, glaring at the salaries of Tariq Abdul-Wahad to see if he would ever be tradeable, finding a friend with regional cable so that I could see if DeVon Hardin lived up to his Native American nickname “hands of stone, heart of lion” (which I completely made up), I can now officially say that it is all for naught. Five years down the drain. I should’ve just gotten my GED.

I am officially a bad basketball fan.

Tonight, I will be watching the Sopranos finale instead of the NBA Finals. The decision came without the slightest tinge of hesitation. I’m a horrible disgrace to this wonderful pasttime. Somebody go back in time and rip that Li’l Penny poster off my wall. It was all a waste.

I chalk this decision up to something much deeper about my personality.

Exhibit A: I have a bitter distaste for the way Bruce Bowen plays defense. I absolutely loathe the idea of Manu Ginobili flopping his way around the NBA Finals. That said, the NBA Finals are enjoyable in that respect: I would like to see the genuinely likable LeBron pull off an upset over the odds, Bowen, Manu, his own coach’s deficiencies and general American indifference and win the NBA Championship. This, in some pathetic sort of way, is minorly compelling to me.
Exhibit B: Tony Soprano and I have become pals. We’re tight, really. We hang out, watch prophetic Westerns, barbecue, occasionally shoot a guy. We are the chummiest of chums.

From there it becomes an issue less of allegiance and more of character. Do I like to hate someone more than I like to like someone? If yes, am I then a bad human being or too loyal? Why do I feel like the answer to this is going to reveal some horrible, scarring memory from my childhood? We should stop this immediately.
Anyways, I’m watching the Sopranos tonight. So is, according to the AP (in all of its infinite wisdom and thousands of puns), most of America. So is David Aldridge. So is some Norwegian guy (VIL TONY KNUSE NBA!?). So is LeBron, too. It’s gonna be a slow first quarter for the Cavs, apparently.

For the record, I can feel the ending right now. Tony stumbles back home from his successful gunfight with Phil Leotardo, bruised and exhausted, but otherwise unscathed. Phil is dead, all is well and things are finally starting to settle. He heads back out poolside, sees his geese flying overhead, and out of the corner of his eye there’s AJ walking out from the house. Tony gives a half-smile and waits for it to be reciprocated, but AJ just stands there sullen, hands behind his back. Tony’s eyebrows furrow and, BOOM, side of the head, Tony is dead. Peace out, fatty. Your only weakness–your love for your kids–was the only thing that could kill you in the end and it did. You should’ve kept him on a tighter leash or went the Witness Protection route, but you didn’t and now you’re dead. Sucker.
And somewhere in here, I’m sure, there’s another David Stern parable, but you can figure it out for yourself. Because I have to go prep for the night where everyone loses in the end.