The thought I keep coming back to is this: The NBA is just terrible.
I grew up in NJ in the '80s and '90s so I remember the Knicks being terrible in the '80s but at least sort of likable, then ascending to be a 60-win team in the Pat Riley era, albeit one that could never get past Jordan. I remember being in high school when the Knicks found a way to lose to the Bulls in 1993 even with home court advantage when Charles Smith was "blocked" four times, without a foul ever being committed! Yay, Jordan Rules! (Yes, I'm rambling now, but it's not like you have anything better to do.)
I was also a real fan of the Knicks (yes, I can admit this) when in 1994 -- yes, with Michael on hiatus -- the Knicks made the Finals and actually had a 3-2 lead, but then went to Houston thanks to the NBA's idiotic 2-3-2 format and lost Games 6 and 7, helped by John Starks shooting like Boilerdowd at the Co-Rec in the same era.
I was still a fan in 1997, when the Miami Heat's PJ Brown started a near riot as the Knicks were taking a 3-1 series lead, resulting in suspensions galore (this was the beginning of the rule where leaving the bench resulted in a suspension and guys weren't used to it yet, thus peacemakers were suspended). So many Knicks were suspended that they had to stagger the suspensions or else the Knicks wouldn't have enough players. They wound up losing in 7.
I was a happy fan who felt like I was getting a bonus in 1999, when the Knicks as the 8-seed knocked out the 1-seed Heat and went all the way to the Finals, losing to San Antonio. So yeah, I was an NBA fan, I suppose, but I never lived and died with the Knicks the way I do with Purdue, for example.
What am I getting at? Well, I just think the league is completely unlikable anymore and there's also almost zero excitement in the playoffs, at least in these early rounds. Did anyone really think the Knicks had a shot against the Heat? I loved listening to NY sports radio and hearing people talk themselves into the idea that the Knicks had a chance. Come on. I mean, obviously, they should have a chance, given the likes of Stoudamire and Anthony, but this team is dysfunctional and not interested in actually acting like, you know, a team.
Sure, the Sixers are looking to pull a major upset over the Bulls, but once Rose went down, I think the Bulls folded the tent. I'm not even going to bag on them about that, either, because that was just crushing.
In the end, you know the teams that are going to be in the hunt. And sadly, those teams are made up of unlikable d-bags. LeBron James? Dwayne Wade? Kobe Bryant? Egotistical, arrogant, disingenuous d-bags.
Kobe Bryant screws anything that will move while he's married and then lies about it -- this is a guy you want to root for? Carmelo Anthony is a career underachiever (8 first round exits in 9 playoffs) who pouted his way out of Denver and then undermined his coach in New York, ultimately getting D'Antoni to resign. LeBron? Well, the list of reasons to hate him is endless.
The league is unlikable and predictable. Look at these series! There literally isn't a competitive one among them. Brutal. Compare this to my NHL, where nearly every series has been competitive and compelling and where literally every team in the playoffs can have legitimate hope to advance deep. Oh, and where the players give genuine interviews and seem earnest in their team-first attitudes.
I wish the NBA was more compelling. I wish the guys were easier to root for. I wish the series were exciting in the first couple of rounds and worth watching. But they aren't. The NBA is a terrible product right now, in my opinion. And that really grinds my gears.