A Reluctant Sports Fan’s Guide to the 2017 NBA Finals

Photo: Emmanuel Hapsis

Allow me to tell you the story of me and sports. Don't worry, it won't take very long. From an early age, my mother decided to shape her only son into a “man” through gifts of over-sized Redskins winter apparel. I could live with that because it was infinitely better than the bow ties forced upon me in earlier years. Something that was harder to accept was being enlisted in an actual sport.

This isn't recorded in any record books, but it's true: I was the most apathetic defense soccer player in the history of the game. As halfheartedly as Daria plays volleyball, I did my best to be as unhelpful as possible. But that didn't stop a hurtling ball from finding the side of my head. Stars! Just like in the cartoons!

If I was a fictional being in a Hollywood movie, this would have been the part of the story where I became impassioned and fueled by the pain and made some memorable winning play or something. What actually happened is I cried a lot and the coach took me to the sidelines and then did that thing jocks do in movies where they rally an unwilling person into doing something they don't actually want to do. "YOU GOT THIS! YOU'RE FINE! YOU READY TO GO BACK IN THERE???" I'm not exactly sure what I said, considering the head injury, but it was something in the neighborhood of: Hell no. That was the last day of my illustrious sporting career.

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Since then, sports don't come up that often. Well, until recently, that is, with the Warriors making the NBA Finals in three consecutive years, and the SF Giants winning three World Series over the span of five years. On each of those occasions, I took the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and sacrificed myself to the sporty gods. And you know what, it wasn’t terrible. With the NBA Finals upon us, what’s a non-sports fan to do?

Here are a few tips on how to successfully pretend you care about sports (and maybe even have some fun while you’re at it):

1. Do respect the high holiday and mind your manners.

I’m not sure if Emily Post ever touched on the topic of talking loudly over an important televised event, but I bet she would have been against it. So don’t be a chatterbox during pivotal plays. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean that others don’t. This is called manners. You wouldn’t want someone to go on and on about how they just can’t figure out why so-and-so never called them back while you’re watching reruns of Full House, now would you?

2. Do wear the right colors.

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Dressing up is fun (see: Halloween and Quinceañeras, Rocky Horror shows and raves). So get in the mood by putting together an ensemble that is appropriate for the occasion. You don’t have to go so far as to wear a jersey or hat, but at least get the colors right if you plan on rooting for a specific team. Don some midnight blue, gold, and/or international orange for the Warriors. If for some weird reason you're rooting for the Cavaliers, go for wine, gold and/or navy blue.

3. Do find your people.

Life is too short to surround yourself with people that don't get you so find out where your kindred spirits hang out. If you like to be in the middle of the action, Mission dive bars are the place for you. If you enjoy reliving your college years, head to the Marina. If you don’t like strangers, invite yourself over to a friend’s house. And if you’re gay and aren’t opposed to a celebratory kiss, check out Hi Tops in the Castro. If you don't live in San Francisco, I'm sure you know which local spot you'd feel most comfortable in.

4. Do your homework.

No one likes a dunce so do some light studying. Okay, let's be real; you're not going to study. Here's a cheat sheet from me to you:

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Got all that? Good!

If all the above fails to up your interest level, here's a secret weapon: If you’re a girl, gay boy or open-minded straight guy, go through both teams’ rosters and pick your next boyfriend. As anyone who has crushed on their high school math teacher knows, love can make any subject interesting.

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So put your shiver-inducing sports memories behind you and let these tips guide you to surviving and maybe even enjoying America’s biggest and baddest sporting event. In the words of my former coach: “YOU GOT THIS!”

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