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A Jayhawk Fan's Guide to the NBA Playoffs

Like a lot of people, I really only pay attention to the NBA Playoffs. It isn't out of lack of interest; it's just that I dive so deep into college basketbal, watching multiple games a night 6 days of the week (Friday is my day off), including what often amounts to be 100-game weekends. It's an obsession that leaves little time left over for other facets of life, like homework and eating and stuff, much less another hardcore habit. I'll watch parts of games here-and-there, but I watch as much playoff basketball as I can get my hands on. Obviously, college basketball is all gone, regretfully. And while I love my Royals, baseball isn't the same as basketball. So, I'll watch plenty of Playoff basketball over the next 2 months (that's another reason...2 months? I can just watch the Playoffs and still feel as if I'm following an entire season along, it takes so freakin' long).

When I watch, I nearly always root for the underdog. It's just how it works. I have some personal favorites, but I pretty much always follow along with who is "supposed to lose", rooting my heart out for them. But, for selfish reasons and the like, I always root especially hard for Jayhawk players. Whether they are playing for the underdog or the favorite, the team I'm rooting for or against, I still root for Kirk Hinrich and Paul Pierce and Mario Chalmers and whoever to do well. I'm just a homer.

So, I thought it would be fun to break down each series, and figure out who you should root for, as a Kansas fan first and foremost. Obviously, this is not definitive. Just a fun, little exercise.

Breakdowns after the jump (don't want to clutter up the front page too much...)

Eastern Conference

(1) Cleveland - Darnell Jackson vs. (8) Detroit - N/A

Verdict: Cleveland, obviously. Darnell ain't much, impact-wise, as he will likely rarely actually see the floor, if ever. He might sneak in and grab some stolen minutes, though, and would come in pending a potential blowout.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 2/5 -- D-Block is the man, and it's sooo easy to root your heart out for him. So, even to see him waltz in for 48 seconds and pick up a rebound in a frenzied environment is worth 2 points, right?

(2) Boston - Paul Pierce, JR Giddens vs. (7) Chicago - Kirk Hinrich

Verdict: This is a tough one. Both Paul and Kirk were outstanding collegiate players, obviously. But Kirk seems to be more loved, at least to me (of course, I was 7 when Pierce left college, so I probably shouldn't be talking about this subject), was a more recent graduate and is still probably thought of first as a Jayhawk to most fans. Maybe not, but it's probably about 50/50. When you think Paul Pierce, most almost assuredly will think 'Boston Celtics', and then remember how he used to dominate in Lawrence. And, I'm pretty sure JR Giddens adds more negative value than positive value. I'll go Chicago.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 4/5 -- It doesn't get full marks because neither of the players are recent. Still, two Jayhawk greats dueling out, both playing rather large roles for their team: it should be a fun one.

(3) Orlando - N/A vs. (6) Philadelphia - N/A (Kareem Rush?)

Verdict: Nobody wins. No Kansas connection whatsoever. But, Larry Brown used to coach Philly. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? And, Kareem Rush's place on the 76ers: does that make you root for them, in support of Brandon or whatever, or against them because he played in Columbia? Lots of questions. So, really, it's up to you. It doesn't really matter, though. I'll go Orlando, though, because Dwight Howard did that Adidas commercial with the Kansas jersey, singing the Rock Chalk chant and everything. That's the only reason, though.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: .5/5 -- Just watch Dwight Howard play, and imagine he would have looked in a Kansas jersey. Who knows if he actually would have been Lawrence-bound, but it's fun to dream, right?

(4) Miami - Mario Chalmers vs. (5) Atlanta - N/A

Verdict: Miami, Miami, Miami. A million times Miami. More than anybody else, I've followed along Mario, because of his heavy involvement in the Heat's success (being the starting PG, and all). So, I'll definitely be watching this one, cheering my heart out for Mario.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 4/5 -- It's only one Jayhawk, but he hit the biggest shot in school history just twelve-and-a-half months ago. Plus, he plays a major role on his new team. Definitely of interest.

Western Conference

(1) Los Angeles - N/A vs. (8) Utah - N/A

Verdict: Boo.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 0/5 -- Watch if you want, but it has nothing to do with Kansas.

(2) Denver - N/A vs. (7) New Orleans - Julian Wright

Verdict: Go Hornets! Julian, baby. After playing very sparingly last season, Julian is starting to receive a lot more PT this year. He still isn't starting, or even the first guy off of the bench, but he does receive some PT. He has a role!

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 3/5 -- Recent graduate, who was pretty much a fan fave. Plays a pretty decent-sized role. Worth watching.

(3) San Antonio - Jacque Vaughn, Drew Gooden vs. (6) Dallas - N/A

Verdict: Some old-school Jayhawks on the old-school Spurs, man. Gooden plays more, but both should see the floor. Mark Cuban, of course, hates the Jayhawks and their intelligent, defensive basketball. I do like me some Mark Cuban, but whatever.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 3/5 -- Two Jayhawks, both of which have decent roles. I almost gave it a higher score, but no.

(4) Portland - Raef LaFrentz, Kevin Pritchard vs. (5) Houston - N/A

Verdict: Blazers, duh. Raef is there merely to clear out cap space after the year is over, and he never really plays. He does make $13 million, though. And of course, Kevin Pritchard is everyone's favorite GM. He should have taken Durant over Oden, but whatever. I'll forgive him. Just about everything else he's done has turned out pretty well.

Jayhawk Fan-O-Meter: 3/5 -- No Jayhawks on the floor to root for, but you can root for the Blazers knowing that a Jayhawk practically put the entire team together.


So, there you go. If you're watching an NBA playoff game, no need to ever think about who you should be rooting for, or whatever. It's all there.