Tuesday , Dec , 11 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Where is Your NBA Team on Maslow’s Pyramid?

Before getting back to summarizing scores, dissecting defenses and creating crude comments, I wanted to do a little more sociology and psychology. Don’t worry, gentle readers, soon I will be back to my Suns’ homerism so you can keep shredding me in the comment section.

I will, however, be mentioning the Suns in this post, but only as a mechanism to explain my point and as an invitation for you to consider Maslow’s Pyramid. Simply put, Maslow’s theory is that one’s perception of need changes as one rises on the pyramid. Once you have food, you want shelter. Once you have shelter, you want security. You move up the pyramid and you keep wanting more.

At one extreme, the Celtics’ fans are ecstatic. They are thrilled to be relevant again. Everything past the first round of the playoffs is the richest, thickest gravy they have ever imagined.

At the other extreme are the Spurs’ fans. The Spurs just barely sold out this year’s home opener in which the team received their championship rings. That is not an indictment of the fans; rather, it is a symbol of their expectations – they expect deep playoff runs and championships. 

On the home front, Suns’ message boards now spell the owner’s name as “Robert $arver” to indicate the fans’ disdain that “he is not willing to spend money on the team” while only about $2 million over the luxury tax threshold (thereby costing the Suns an additional $2 million, which will be used to fund their competitors). Nor do they remember that he avoided another Joe Johnson public relations debacle by giving into the public pressure in 2006 and signed Boris (aka “Doris”) Diaw to a 5-year, $45-million contract. I could go on and on about how much money $arver is spending or how bad Diaw is (compare Diaw’s box score to ANY other player in the league and try to argue he’s not, dollar-for-dollar, the most overpaid player in the league).

Fans are also outraged at the 16-6 start, which is on pace for 59 or 60 wins (roughly 59.6). How many fans of how many teams would kill for 59 or 60 wins?

There are complaints of “chemistry issues” but no Jamaal Tinsley incidents.

On the one hand, Celtics’ fans (and fans of 20-some odd other teams) could tell Phoenix fans to stop whining. At the other extreme, Spurs’ fans are laughing because they have what the Phoenix fans want but cannot seem to get. When the Spurs fall from the top of the pyramid (it will happen eventually), the fans will experience a malaise and longing for the top of the pyramid and then they’ll be at the bottom of the pyramid, dreaming of 60 win seasons. By the time there is a Celtics-like renaissance, the elation of moving back of the pyramid will be greater than collecting the 2007 championship rings.

The beauty of sport – at all levels – is that it provides an unfiltered look into the human mind and spirit. One of my coaches once told me that sports do not build character, they reveal character. Where does your team sit? What is your team showing you about its character? What is your team showing you about your character?

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