When it comes to the NBA Playoffs, there are five different emotions that a fan can feel, depending on how far their team goes. Fans of the team that wins it all and passes around the Larry O’Brien Trophy as they are covered in confetti usually face immense pride. You are the fans of a champion! You picked well! Before that, fans of the two teams that made it to the Finals in the first place face happiness. They [your team] did it! They won a few playoff series! It wasn’t just a fluke that they got into the playoffs!
The fans of the teams that made the playoffs but didn’t do much with it usually face relief. Your team was better than less than 50% of the rest of the conference. Your team could have had a losing record and still made the playoffs. Eight out of 15 teams went to the playoffs, and you were able to avoid hockey for a few more days. The fans of that over 50% group of teams that didn’t make the playoffs face disappointment. You probably didn’t really expect your team to make it to the playoffs. Though after seeing the Brooklyn Nets sneak in, you probably thought there was a chance.
But there is another emotion that only fans of teams that seem to have the worst-laid plans can ever imagine facing. Sometimes losing isn’t the worst thing. It is losing, and seeing a player leave all that losing behind to do some winning with another team: That causes the worst level of emotion in sports: misery.
These players have recently caused such pain.
New York Knicks to Golden State Warriors, 2010-11 Season
It seems like everyone that used to be a Knick went to the playoffs on another team this season: J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are in the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers; Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler were in the playoffs with the Dallas Mavericks; Metta World Peace, aka Ron Artest, went to the Italian League playoffs with CV Cantu. But one player takes the prize of causing Knicks fans the most misery: David Lee.
Remember David Lee, Knicks fans? Remember when the Knicks looked like they were in the process of really building something in Madison Square Garden instead of trying to pick up a superstar and hope that he works with the rest of the team? I know it was a while ago, but do you remember that?
As many Knicks fans saw it, David Lee was supposed to be the beginning of that plan. After being drafted at the tail end of round 1 of the 2005 NBA Draft, Lee worked his way off the bench to become a prolific center. He went to the 2010 All-Star Game in place of Allen Iverson, becoming the first Knick to be considered that good since 2001.
Then came the age of Carmelo Anthony. To make room on the squad and under the cap, Lee was signed and then traded away to the Golden State Warriors for some cap-opening players and a draft pick. Now Lee is in the NBA Finals with the Warriors while the Knicks… well, to put it nicely, are not.
Minnesota Timberwolves to Cleveland Cavaliers, 2014-15 Season
The Minnesota Timberwolves really seem to love trading away good players just when the team is starting to do well. Christian Laettner was jettisoned to semi-greener pastures, and Kevin Garnett was sent to the Boston Celtics, who promptly won the NBA championship.
Most recently, the Timberwolves sent away another player to a Finals-bound team: Kevin Love. With the end of his contract extension looming, the team opted to send Kevin Love out to help LeBron James fulfill his legacy in Cleveland rather than be shunned by the three-time all-star power forward when he hit free agency.
Fortunately, the Timberwolves came away with the first pick in this year’s draft, which means that they will have another great player that will train in Minnesota for a few seasons before transferring to a more legitimate team.
Orlando Magic to Milwaukee Bucks to Los Angeles Clippers, 2013-15 Seasons
At one point, the Orlando Magic had so much depth that shooting guard J.J. Redick was relegated to the bench. What do you expect when you forget what defense is at Duke? Then the talent left, and the wins went with them. The Magic were left with J.J. Redick, and fought to keep him by matching an offer by the Chicago Bulls in 2010.
In 2013, the Orlando Magic promptly gave up and traded Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks, a seemingly safe team to trade a player to without any regrets. Unfortunately for fans in Orlando, the Bucks turned around and traded Redick to the Los Angeles Clippers a few months later. Now he’s working with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to make the Clippers an annual playoff team. So far, so good.
Boston Celtics to Dallas Mavericks, 2014-15 Season
Rajon Rondo may not keep fans in Boston awake at night, but it had to make them wince a bit this past season. The abrasive point guard was with the Boston Celtics during their recent, successful years. Then the team got old, and the rebuilding began. All that was left was a beat-up Rajon Rondo playing for a 25-57 team during the 2013-14 season. If healthy he probably would have been traded as well.
Rondo was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for 2014-15, and made the playoffs despite having an attitude problem with coach Rick Carlisle. The Celtics made the playoffs as well, which may soothe feelings about Rondo a little. Hey, the fans at TD Garden gave him a standing ovation when he visited with the Mavericks.
New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets to Boston Celtics to Washington Wizards, 2013-15 Seasons
It’s doubtful that many fans actually miss Kris Humphries. Maybe the basketball fans who are also Kardashian fans miss having Humphries in their city. But I really can’t believe that any true basketball fan watches anything connected to the Kardashians.
Then again, Kris Humphries did play for the Nets, at the exact point that the team was moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn, which happened to be the same time that he was marrying and divorcing Kim Kardashian. Besides that pile of drama, Humphries is a decent basketball player, and the Washington Wizards now have much bigger playoff expectations in the years to come than the Brooklyn Nets, who just want to find a decent mascot before they figure out this whole basketball roster puzzle.
Patrick Emmel is a sports humorist who once punted a soccer ball fifty yards to his teammate, who then scored the only goal for his college intramural soccer team’s season. Seriously, that kick was placed PERFECTLY. He is also still a believer that Colt McCoy is going to break out as an NFL quarterback. You can read more of his obnoxious commentary at This Jeer In Sports and heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.