Word on the Street

Playoff Apocalypse (pla’-of uh-pah’-kuh-lips’) noun. Term describing the empty “end of the world” feeling a basketball fan experiences when his team is officially eliminated from the playoffs.

Usage example:With the Spurs playing the Mavs in the first round, my playoff apocalypse could be coming very soon.”

Word trivia: This term was inspired by the 10 Traits That Will Come In Handy During The Apocalypse at Cracked.com. The playoff apocalypse experience can be broken down into the following basic stages from apocalypse literature and movies:

1. The Shock and Awe Stage: This describes the sense of stunned disbelief a fan feels when he or she realizes with complete certainty that his or her favorite team is about to be or has been eliminated. Some people will claim that this feeling can begin at any time during the elimination game. For instance, when your team is down by 30 on the road at halftime. But those people are fooling themselves, because true fans are looking at that deficit and thinking, “Well, if they make a strong push in the third quarter, they could cut the lead to 15 points – no, maybe 12 points – by the start of the fourth quarter. Then if they come out hot to start the fourth and cut it to single digits, anything could happen!”

Denial is a powerful tool. Just ask Tiger Woods.

By the way, in the above example, I’m talking about the “fan heart” rather than the “fan mind.” The fan mind knows what’s up. Heck, the fan mind probably knew this series was a hopeless cause from the very beginning. But the fan heart comes from the same part of the mind that still believes in true love, soul mates and unicorns. Of course, having been burned many times over, the fan heart will cause the fan to say things like, “Oh, I knew this shit was going to happen” or “We’re finished.” But deep inside, that fan heart cannot stop itself from holding on to some pitiful scrap of hope…at least until that hope has been mercilessly crushed beneath the boot of reality, probably while reality goes “Muwahahahaha!”

In a major blowout, SaA won’t truly kick in until about the five minute mark of the fourth quarter. That’s the tipping point at which even the most irrational basketball fan will be forced to admit their team isn’t capable of a 25-0 run. Probably. In the case of a non-blowout, SaA might not start until the final minute, or maybe not even until the final buzzer. At that point, all you will be capable of is sit in quiet dissatisfaction while mumbling things like, “I can’t believe it’s over,” or “I can’t believe [insert role player’s name here] hit that clutch three. I didn’t see that coming.”

Despite a truly bummed out feeling, true depression hasn’t set in. The human brain has to fully process the events before you start doing shots.

2. The Day After Stage: The term “day after” might be somewhat of a misnomer, because this stage can begin as early as the first hour immediately following your team’s elimination. This is when you start breaking things down in ridiculous detail, maybe even going back to the first month of the season. “Oh man,” you might say, “if we hadn’t lost those early games to the Kings and Timberwolves, and if [insert star player’s name here] hadn’t gotten injured, we might have earned homecourt advantage, and then things would have gone totally differently.”

This is what’s known as denial, folks. Sure, your arguments will seem reasonable. Maybe unleashing Sonny Weems earlier in the season really would have won your team a couple more games. Maybe if Kirk Hinrich hadn’t missed those games with a sprained thumb, your team could have avoided LeBron James in the first round. But creating all these hypotheticals is a futile and meaningless effort. Much like trying to comb hair over a bald spot or peacocking when you’re 5’5″ and weigh 350 pounds. You’re only shining a spotlight on the fact that you can’t come to grips with reality, only you no longer have the excuse that the sad event just happened. You’ve had time to deal with and accept what happened, but you’re refusing to do so. You’re still fighting. Which is brave in a way that is both sad and stupid.

3. The Last Man Fan on Earth Stage: For the moment, your basketball life has been stripped of meaning. It’s every man for himself now. Abstract concepts like loyalty have been cruelly dismissed. You are no longer rooting for teams so much as rooting against them. Sure, you may say, “Oh, well, I always kind of liked Dirk Nowitzki, so I hope the Mavericks will win this series.” But what you really mean is, “Goddamn, I hate the fucking Lakers. If [your team] can’t win, I just don’t want to see them get another championship.” The hopes and dreams of other fan bases mean nothing to you. Only your hatred matters, because that hatred will keep your soul alive until you can start theorizing about your team’s draft strategy and subsequent offseason free agent signings.

It’s the end of the world as you know it.

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Labels: Sonny Weems / Kirk Hinrich / LeBron James / Dirk Nowitzki / San Antonio Spurs / Dallas Mavericks Sacramento Kings / Minnesota Timberwolves / Los Angeles Lakers / NBA Playoffs / NBA / Word on the Street

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