Growing up a Bills and Sabres fan, I’ve never had the opportunity to see my team win it all. And seldom do I even get to see my team in the big game. Sure there was that nice little stint in the 90s with the Bills, but for the most part, I find myself watching two teams I could care less about.
Certain life circumstances have caused me to follow baseball and basketball, too. In typical fashion, I’ve chosen loser teams in those sports as well. In baseball, it’s the Washington Nationals. And on the hard court, it’s the New York Knicks. So again, come the end of the season, I’m watching two teams I don’t care about and usually, I decide to root for the team I dislike less.
Almost always, though, I’m rooting for a team instead of against a team. There are exceptions, however, as was the case in this year’s NBA Finals. I have no love for the Dallas Mavericks. But an intense dislike – I’ll stop short of saying hatred – of the Miami Heat.
Truth is, I only started watching basketball – even casually – a couple of years ago. And it was basically against my will. But I watched. And grew to not hate it. I moved over to full-fledged liking last year when I was taken to a Knicks game at Madison Square. Seeing the game up close and in person in one of the world’s greatest arenas gave me an appreciation I previously lacked.
I watched with great interest last summer as “The Decision” played out on live TV. Any basketball fan knows what I’m talking about, but for the majority of you who likely don’t, it was a live television special in which Cleveland Cavaliers all-star LeBron James announced he’d be leaving his hometown team and hightailing it to Miami in order to win a championship.
As a former Clevelander, I felt bad for my friends who still lived there and were fans of the Cavs. Surely, for them, they felt deserted by “King James.” He left his fans in search of a championship ring. Understandable, I suppose, but it was just another blow for Cleveland, who in so many ways is just like Buffalo.
So it was with great intensity that I watched the NBA playoffs this year, hoping to see LeBron James get his comeuppance. Surely, God would not reward a traitor such as him.
With the Knicks knocked out in the first round, my only real pleasure could come from Miami losing. But rounds came and went and Miami was still in it, besting Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago to make it to the Finals. And I got nervous.
In the end teamwork and true character won out over talent and ego.
Watching Miami lose game six to Dallas wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as it would have been to watch the Sabres win a Stanley Cup. But it was pleasurable, nonetheless.
Sometimes life’s grand pleasures escape you and you have to enjoy the little ones all that much more.
For right now, schadenfreude will have to do.