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On the First Day of NBAmas, the schedule gave to me...

Celtics-Heat? Mavs-Lakers? No, thank you. I'll take Wizards-Cavs.

What a difference a few years makes
What a difference a few years makes

Tonight signals the official start of the 2012-2013 NBA regular season. Not only is this day awesome because it means BASKETBALL IS BACK, it's awesome because of the slate of games tonight.

Four of the best and star-studded teams--the last four championship-wining teams--in the NBA are playing tonight. And do you know what I'm most excited to watch? The Washington Wizards playing in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. Why would I be excited to watch these two teams? I mean, besides being a masochist?

Because they're my teams.

My family emigrated to Cleveland more than twenty years ago, and as soon as I was old enough to open a foil basketball card wrapper by myself, I got hooked on the Cavs. My cousins and I followed the Price-Daugherty-Nance years with a passion only rivaled by the passion that 7 year olds have for basically anything because COME ON WE WERE KIDS AND WE WERE EXCITED. The Cavs were good. So good, in fact, that their only kryptonite was Michael Jordan. He happened to be the kryptonite of pretty much everyone in the NBA in the early 90s, but still, the Cavs were damn good. I watched those Cavs teams, collected those Cavs cards, and wore those Cavs jerseys (even the one that was made for me out of an old t-shirt and puffy paint) because I LOVED that team.

Things changed in the mid-90s. The team got worse, then a little better, but it mostly just dabbled in mediocrity until the 1998 NBA Lockout pitted fans against the league. It was then I lost interest in the NBA (thanks Indians, for being there to pick up the pieces while also making me sad), and I didn't know that I'd ever be back.

A little over five years ago, I graduated from college in Virginia and moved to DC--like everyone else who graduates from college in Virginia. I had a job and roommates, but for the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn't have homework dominating my evenings. I had this massive empty timeslot in the evenings that Jeopardy could only usually manage to fill. A buddy of mine hit me up: "Hey, do you want to get tickets to the Wizards game on Wednesday?" "Sure, why not? Sounds like fun, and I used to love watching the Cavs growing up."

So that's when it started again. A few more Wizards games here. A few BS Reports there. And a whole lot of reading and trying to start our own pithy sports blog. Oh, and I watched A LOT of Cavs on TV. Remember when the Cavs used to be on TV all the time? The Wizards were my gateway drug back into the NBA, and they made me remember how much I loved watching the Cavs. The team helped me re-establish my roots in Cleveland, and it only made it that much more fun that it was around the same time the Wizards and Cavs had one of the most entertaining rivalries in sports. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then just google "Jay Z Soulja Boy," and you'll see what I mean.

So tonight, I'm going to watch this game from start to finish. I'll think about the rivalries past, and I'll definitely be thinking about the rivalries of the future. I can't tell you how excited I am about the Wall/Beal vs. Irving/Waiters backcourt matchup. I know we won't get to see it tonight, but I'll be there on December 26th to see them on the floor together.

And here we are today. Both teams are DRASTICALLY different than they were when I was growing up and even just five years ago. And I am a fan of both. Is that wrong? Is that sports-blasphemy, to root for two teams at once? Maybe, but I'm not really sure I care. The Cavs make me feel nostalgic and tied to a town that took me and my family in twenty-some years ago; the Wizards make me feel tied to a town that's been formative to my adult experience. The Cavs got me into basketball; the Wizards brought me back. I love them both, and nothing makes me happier than seeing them duke it out. I like to pretend they're fighting for my affection. Even when they're both disappointing me by being really terrible.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.