It's the end of the world as you know it.

playoff apocalypse (pla'-of uh-pah'-kuh-lips') noun. Term describing the empty "end of the world" feeling a basketball fan experiences when his team is officially eliminated from the playoffs.

Usage example: With the Bulls playing the Cavaliers in the first round, my playoff apocalypse could be coming very soon.

Word trivia: This term was inspired by the 10 Traits That Will Come In Handy During The Apocalypse at Cracked.com. The playoff apocalypse experience can be broken down into the following basic stages from apocalypse literature and movies:

1. The Shock and Awe Stage: This describes the sense of stunned disbelief a fan feels when he or she realizes with complete certainty that his or her favorite team is about to be or has been eliminated. Some people will claim that this feeling can begin at any time during the elimination game. For instance, when your team is down by 30 on the road at halftime. But those people are fooling themselves, because true fans are looking at that deficit and thinking, "Well, if they make a strong push in the third quarter, they could cut the lead to 15 points -- no, maybe 12 points -- by the start of the fourth quarter. Then if they come out hot to start the fourth and cut it to single digits, anything could happen!"

Denial is a powerful tool. Just ask Tiger Woods.

By the way, in the above example, I'm talking about the "fan heart" rather than the "fan mind." The fan mind knows what's up. Heck, the fan mind probably knew this series was a hopeless cause from the very beginning. But the fan heart comes from the same part of the mind that still believes in true love, soul mates and unicorns. Of course, having been burned many times over, the fan heart will cause the fan to say things like, "Oh, I knew this shit was going to happen" or "We're finished." But deep inside, that fan heart cannot stop itself from holding on to some pitiful scrap of hope...at least until that hope has been mercilessly crushed beneath the boot of reality, probably while reality goes "Muwahahahaha!"

In a major blowout, SaA won't truly kick in until about the five minute mark of the fourth quarter. That's the tipping point at which even the most irrational basketball fan will be forced to admit their team isn't capable of a 25-0 run. Probably. In the case of a non-blowout, SaA might not start until the final minute, or maybe not even until the final buzzer. At that point, all you will be capable of is sit in quiet dissatisfaction while mumbling things like, "I can't believe it's over," or "I can't believe [insert role player's name here] hit that clutch three. I didn't see that coming."

Despite a truly bummed out feeling, true depression hasn't set in. The human brain has to fully process the events before you start doing shots.

2. The Day After Stage: The term "day after" might be somewhat of a misnomer, because this stage can begin as early as the first hour immediately following your team's elimination. This is when you start breaking things down in ridiculous detail, maybe even going back to the first month of the season. "Oh man," you might say, "if we hadn't lost those early games to the Kings and Timberwolves, and if [insert star player's name here] hadn't gotten injured, we might have earned homecourt advantage, and then things would have gone totally differently."

This is what's known as denial, folks. Sure, your arguments will seem reasonable. Maybe unleashing Sonny Weems earlier in the season really would have won your team a couple more games. Maybe if Kirk Hinrich hadn't missed those games with a sprained thumb, your team could have avoided LeBron James in the first round. But creating all these hypotheticals is a futile and meaningless effort. Much like trying to comb hair over a bald spot or peacocking when you're 5'5" and weigh 350 pounds. You're only shining a spotlight on the fact that you can't come to grips with reality, only you no longer have the excuse that the sad event just happened. You've had time to deal with and accept what happened, but you're refusing to do so. You're still fighting. Which is brave in a way that is both sad and stupid.

3. The Last Man Fan on Earth Stage: For the moment, your basketball life has been stripped of meaning. It's every man for himself now. Abstract concepts like loyalty have been cruelly dismissed. You are no longer rooting for teams so much as rooting against them. Sure, you may say, "Oh, well, I always kind of liked Dirk Nowitzki, so I hope the Mavericks will win this series." But what you really mean is, "Goddamn, I hate the fucking Lakers. If [your team] can't win, I just don't want to see them get another championship." The hopes and dreams of other fan bases mean nothing to you. Only your hatred matters, because that hatred will keep your soul alive until you can start theorizing about your team's draft strategy and subsequent offseason free agent signings.

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Anonymous Mladen said...
Damn. Spot on.
Of course, it's easier when you're not from the States, and can root for multiple teams. You can especially be sure that my burning hatred towards the Lakers will make me root for even the bawfulest of teams...

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
My first round playoffs predictions:

Lakers over Thunder in 5: Still too raw and too young. With Bynum coming back, the Thunder have no chance unless KD averages 45.

Dallas over SA in 6: Dirk, Kidd, Marion, it's all starting to mesh as things fall apart in SA.

Phoenix over Portland in 5: The Suns will let one game mentally slip due to winning guilt over the Roy-less Blazers.

Utah over Denver in 9: Bleehhhhh.

Cavs over Chicago in 6: Yes, I actually believe the Bulls can win two pending perfect games from Rose Hinrich and Noah.

Orlando over Bobcats in 5: Capt Jack gets hot a few games, but this is over yea.

Atlanta over Bucks in 5: Bogut's still out, right?

Heat over Celtics in 7: Pending which officials are assigned to the game.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
I don't know if it was mentioned (cuz I'm too lazy to look) but
Toronto media pointed out that every time toronto had a winning record before the all-star break we get into the playoffs.

MASSIVE stat curse here

Blogger Will said...
AnacondaHL- My NBA playoff bracket is almost in lockstep with you on the West. The only difference is that I have the Lakers winning in 6.

That Cracked.com article had me in tears yesterday, especially the "Religion Was Right" scenario. I am boning up on my religious end-of-the-world predictions.

As far as the Last Fan on Earth section goes, I don't really hold a grudge against a team that knocks my team out, unless I previously hated them.

Anonymous Hellshocked said...
Interesting, AnacondaHL.

Personally, I think the Thunder will get swept, Spurs in 6 or 7 over the Mavs, Bulls get swept, Atlanta in 6 and Celtics in 6.

I have no idea which way the Utah-Denver series will go, but I don't see it being decided in less than 6 games.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
Shrugz - The Craptors beat up on a bunch of terrible teams for a while. The Nyets, Indiana twice, Paupers, etc. Everyone - media included - got all excited. But if you look at their schedule from when they were "on fire", it was softer than Knee-Mac swabbed in cotton candy.

Once they started playing some legitimate teams, they got crushed. They are who we thought they were.

Bawful shout out to Troy Murphy, who has now assumed the mantle from Jamal "What's a Bad Shot?" Crawford as the NBA player who's been in the L the longest without making it to the playoffs.

Anonymous Kevin (Sorbo) said...
Anaconda: I'm with you on about all the picks. I even have to agree on Cavs/Bulls, because there will be one game where the Cavs underestimate the Bulls and one game where Hinrich/Rose go off at home. With Dallas/SA, it's a coin flip in my opinion, although I'm leaning Dallas only because they don't have four championships to demotivate them.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
and don't forget bosh got injured during a crucial time for their play off hopes :P

Blogger BertvU said...
The term "day after" might be somewhat of a misnomer, because this stage can begin as early as the first hour immediately following your team's elimination.

Or perhaps 3 days before the series starts.

"Oh man," you might say, "if we hadn't lost those early games to the Kings and Timberwolves, and if [insert star player's name here] hadn't gotten injured, we might have earned homecourt advantage, and then things would have gone totally differently."

This sounds like a dig at Utah. Ouch

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Some bawfulness here: the entirety of TrueHoop's 2010 Stat Geek Smackdown picked the Celtics.

Blogger Preveen said...
Is there some kinda connection between Marissa Miller and the Bulls. I've seen her twice in pics with Rose and now this.

Also, As I was saying earlier, Shaq is the man.

You know your gonna look just coz that link says "Marbury crazy" :D

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
Preveen: Derrick Rose was selected as "Chicago's sexiest athelete" by Victoria's Secret.. Marissa Miller is employed by them, obviously, and so is around presenting D. Rose's award... apparently multiple times.


I personally think Miranda Kerr is the cream of the crop over at the Secret, but to each their own..

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
Addendum: Those are, however, awesome, awesome jeans.

And what the hell else is Ray Allen supposed to look at, the ground? He doesn't look like a stalker, he just looks bored. Yeah, yeah, let's get this stupid crap over with and get back to the game..

Blogger Dylan said...
You should create a term for when you know your team will suffer a playoff apocalypse before the season even starts (I'm a Knicks fan). Maybe playoff nuclear bomb? Reverse big bang?

Blogger Basketbawful said...
Preveen -- It's funny you bring up the Marissa Miller angle...

...she was there for the Celtics-Bulls game and talked all goo-goo about D-Rose. And I couldn't help but notice Rose was smiling, laughing, playing the best defense I've ever seen him play, was going for spectacular and acrobatic dunks, etc. He was being way more energetic, outgoing and charismatic than I've ever seen him...and of course he had a career-high 39 points.

At first I was like, "Wow, I guess Rose is geeked to try and make the playoffs." After reflecting on it, I'm almost certain that he was showing off for Marisa. I think he still would have played well, but all the other stuff, the smiles, the circus dunks...

Blogger AnacondaHL said...
Dylan Murphy: The closest would be a Schrodinger's Playoff Team, which is a team that exists in the playoffs but in a state as both dead and alive, such that fans first deny looking into the box, as they don't really want to know the answer.

Blogger tonious35 said...
Mr. Bawful,

How are you liking the services of Chuck Swirsky as your radio broadcaster? I think he has large shoes to fill for whomever he is replacing in CHiTown, but I'm from Toronto and I miss him really much and thought he would be a Raptor-man till the day I need Geritol.

We are stuck with Matt "Boring ass" Devlin and he will for sure reap the benefits of broadcasting on TNT for playoffs, when Marv and Kevin are partying in a limo.

Blogger chris said...
Bawful: Would the Bulls win a playoff round if Marisa Miller, instead of Vinnie Smallz, was their coach?

Dylan Murphy: Yeah, exactly how I feel as a Kings fan in the wake of The Comeback.


Blogger Basketbawful said...
AnacondaHL -- Wanna turn that into a Word of the Day?

Tonious35 -- You know, Chuck isn't bad. Radio play-by-play can get really boring really quickly, but he keeps it flowing and has good chemistry with Bill Wennington. I don't mind listening to them when I'm stuck "watching" the Bulls on radio.

chris -- Marisa might be an upgrade. The Bulls would at least kill themselves to impress her...

Blogger chris said...
AnacondaHL: In other words, what the Kings were the year Ron-Ron was on the team.

Anonymous Cmonson said...
I recall your post on making guarensheeds after rose's bold statements. I would like a term coined for rose's followthrough lol.

Blogger Preveen said...
Right, so now my list of NBA players I hate goes
Marco Jaric
Pau Gasol
Derrick Rose - For schoozing with Alessandra Ambrosio in that link The Other Chris sent. Marissa I don't care that much.