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You Have To Play the Best To Be The Best

Andy Lyons

I hate LeBron and I hate the Kings. LeBron is insulting to a Buffalo fan, we already have Marcellus Wiley on TV talking about how boring Buffalo is everyday, poisoning our free agent chances, sometimes it seems like the only way to get a star, is to have one raised in your own backyard, or to draft one. Cleveland was able to draft someone from his own backyard, yet he still left. Anyone would have come to Cleveland to play with LeBron (minus Carlos Boozer) yet he choose to go to someone else's team.

I liked the Kings at one point, I really liked Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds, but then the Kings opened an exchange program with the Philadelphia Flyers. And got guys like Jeff Carter:

I'll never forgive Justin Williams for going HAM that one time, Mike Richards is a scumbag, so is their captain and Drew Doughty, well he's awesome, but his face is just so smug and punchable.

While I love that LA has a passionate fanbase now, I don't like every LA fan telling me they've always been die hard fans. I quite fondly remember buying $10 100 level tickets at Staples, and having requests to watch hockey rejected at the bar as every TV was needed for the World Champion Lakers.

Anyway, with such deep seated emotions involving two series, I wanted to look for a logical conclusion as to why the winning teams won, and the losing teams lost.

Heading into their respective finals, the Spurs played 63 games against .500 or better competition. The Kings played 62 games against playoff competition, the Rangers played 60 and the Heat played 57 games against teams .500 or better.

When trying to draw a championship conclusion, you could look at each teams winning percentage against top competition:

Top Competition Win %:

Heat 39-18 68% wins

Spurs 41-22 65% wins

Rangers 30-26-4 53.3% of possible points

Kings 30-27-5 52.5% of possible points

That didn't work, each winning team performed worse than their opponent against .500/playoff teams.

What if you look at the win percentage against elite teams?

Elite Win %

Heat 14-8 63.6%

Kings 23-20-3 53.3%

Spurs 18-16 52.9%

Rangers 10-15-2 40.7%

Elite win percentage does a little better, showing the Rangers downfall, but still cannot explain the Heat.

But while looking at elite wins, I do see something promising:

Elite Games Played:

Kings 46

Spurs 34

Rangers 27

Heat 22

When it came down to the final, the Kings and Spurs played many more big games than their opponents. Sometimes playing against elite teams in emotional battles leaves too much scar tissue for a team to win it all, but this year was the year of conquering and gaining strength. You could even include the Super Bowl where the Seahawks had to climb past the 10th hardest schedule and rivals San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl, while Denver skated on the easiest schedule in the NFL. Each of the three teams dominated, leaving no doubt who the champions of 2014 are, and you can do nothing but give them your respect.

Circling back to UB, despite great play in 2013, the schedule did not prepare the Bulls for championship football, glaring facts after the "Crash at the Ralph" and the Potato Bowl. The 2014 schedule is no better, in fact it's much worse. The Spurs and the Kings were battle tested, but the Bulls will go into their meaningful games unsure of their true ability. This will be the test of our coach. There are six obvious wins on our schedule, but will those games prepare UB to compete in the other six more important games? Will this schedule get UB their first bowl win? If the champions of 2014 show you anything, I'd say it's not looking good for the Bulls.

Kings again, Spurs forever. Thanks for an entertaining year of sport.