(the first and last time in history this man will be considered “hip” in any context whatsoever)
While the prospect of a (once unthinkable) Grizzlies/Hawks NBA Finals would surely have David Stern looking for razor blades, it’s the kind of pairing that’s right up the alley of elitists, snobs, bandwagon jumpers and….Pitchfork readers? That’s (sort of) the hypothesis of Hipster Runoff’s Carles, who uses the auspices of GQ.com to suggest, “If you can’t have a romantic relationship with your hometown franchise that has ascended into the championship-contender echelon of NBA franchises, building a relationship with a buzz team can justify your hyper-aware consumption of the NBA.” For those of us who liked basketball back when CBS showed the Finals on tape delay, well, we’ve got first dibs on those razor blades, Mr. Commissioner.
While OKC might have been a buzz team in Kevin Durant’s first two years, having “expectations” quickly makes your team mainstream. Much like an indie music fan builds an early attachment to a buzzband that has released only two MP3s, an innovative NBA fan is seeking a similarly romantic connection with a first round team that won two playoff games (but ultimately lost the series). We all want to be there to say that we put our time in watching an “underground” early-round game that was relegated to NBA TV. We want to be able to say “I Was There [via LCD Soundsystem]. Where the groundwork for amazing happened.” NBA Buzz Teams keep us from losing our edge, hedging against another Lakers-Celtics finals.
The buzz team allows post-knowledgeable NBA fans to project visions of greatness for a team of unlikely players who we want to see succeed in the playoffs, not because of a direct emotional commitment to the team, but because buzzing the right team means that you “get” the NBA. You even get to buzz certain players: the ones who are new to the playoffs (Tyler Hansbrough, Marc Gasol, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner) or the “grizzled veterans who are respected but are ultimately failures who have been rebranded as having ‘adapted to new roles” (Shane Battier, Zach Randolph, Andre Iguodala). You can even talk yourself into Aaron Gray and Spencer Hawes for “having size.” Even though the Knicks flopped and are a mainstream mega-NBA brand, they also represent “the social buzz” element of buzz teams, which is a desire to “send good vibes” to a fallen franchise, or a market that has never experienced success. I can’t tell if I would want people from Oklahoma City to feel like champions, but maybe if Durant played in Portland, that would feel “pretty cool to root for.”