I am not expecting much from the Denver Nuggets.
That's why I have mixed feelings about the beginning of a long NBA season.
They're going to be good enough to suck me in again, of course. They always are.
The entire George Karl era has been one big hope-fest, brimming with potential, possibilities and ultimately disappointment.
I'm not sure i'm up for another year of it.
The NBA is more top-heavy than any other league. We all know it'll be the Lakers in the West and the Heat in the East. So why bother?
Near the end of last season I asked my friend Andrew Feinstein, the founder of Denver Stiffs, who is as close to the Nuggets as anyone I know, if my fate as a Denver fan is to continue witnessing these playoff near-misses. Andrew, who was reluctant to throw the team completely under the bus, wasn't optimistic. So I asked him if they will ever win a Championship and, if not, why do we watch?
Andrew's take was that Nuggets fans are wise to adopt a different set of expectations - to change their definition of success - root for them to make it to the second round this time.
We don't expect much - and each season the Nuggets meet our expectations.
The George Karl era won't last forever, of course. The window is closing. At some point the Nuggets will need to start from scratch. Perhaps then we will look back fondly at these 50 win seasons. Meanwhile, simply making the playoffs every year has lost its luster.
The Nuggets have been selling us on their Karl-inspired "team concept" ever since the coach got here in 2005. In every season since they've been stuck in the mud. Without elite scorers and quality big men, Denver hasn't had the bullets to beat the NBAs best teams. They're right back there again this season. The more the Nuggets change, the more they stay the same.
This season we're counting on JaVale McGee. The entire year seems to hinge on his development. National pundits find that laughable. McGee, lovable as he is, is raw as sashimi. Karl, of course, is convinced that he can pull the kid along and mold him into a quality player, bringing him off the bench as he matures. Meanwhile, the Lakers know exactly what they have in Dwight Howard. The league's best Center. He joins the league's best point guard and the league's best forward.
It's discouraging to know how the NBA season will end before it even begins. But let's be honest, Nuggets fans, we know what's about to go down. We're going to watch a team handle its business in the regulalar season. We're going to get excited, buy some new gear, attend some games, eat some mmmmini-donuts and watch two other teams play in the Western Conference while we all wonder which projects Karl will take on next.
It's starting to feel pretty pointless, this not expecting much.