National / Sports / April 15, 2015

NBA playoffs: liberal arts edition

The NBA playoffs start this Saturday. While you might not be shaking with eager excitement by this fact, you might want to know who you would root for if you were interested. The best way to take an interest in a sport is to feel like you have a horse in the race.

Being a fan turns wins and losses into instances of unparalleled joy or abject hopelessness. So how can you pick a team to root for in the next couple of days? While fandom is often times determined geographically, and sometimes passed down hereditarily, I posit that it can also be determined by major. This article will serve as a guide pairing majors with NBA playoff teams.


English major – Chicago Bulls

This major-player pairing is based upon the compelling narrative of point guard Derrick Rose. The story writes itself. The then-struggling Bulls picked Rose, a hometown kid, first overall in the 2008 NBA draft despite only having a miniscule 1.7 percent chance of gaining the pick in the draft lottery.

A meteoric rise ensues as Rose wins rookie of the year, earns an all-star spot his sophomore year and leads the Bulls to the first overall seed the following year on his way to MVP honors. After signing a five year deal for $94.8 million, Rose falters. Injuries derail the next three years and lead to questions concerning Rose’s ability to serve as the key cog on a championship team.

He returns this year to a team primed for a run at the title, suffers another meniscus tear but ultimately decides to have it removed so that he can participate in the playoffs. The next few weeks will determine whether Rose can bring a championship back to the land of Jordan.

In characteristic style, power forward Blake Griffin throws down on Wizards' center Marcin Gortat. (Courtesy of

In characteristic style, power forward Blake Griffin throws down on Wizards’ center Marcin Gortat. (Courtesy of


Theatre major – Los Angeles Clippers

At first glance this pairing makes sense because of Hollywood’s status as a destination for individuals interested in acting, screenwriting and film production. The team itself is seen by NBA writers, coaches and officiating personnel as having a flare for the “dramatic”. The Clippers lead the league in technical fouls, usually doled out when players try to show up referees by physically and vocally disagreeing with their in-game calls.

Point guard Chris Paul often times tries to act his way into a foul call by exaggerating contact between himself and a given defender. Paul as well as his superstar teammate Blake Griffin have both given acting a try as spokesmen for State Farm and Kia, respectively.


International relations major – San Antonio Spurs

Think of the Spurs as a United Nations that actually works. Of the 15 players currently on the Spurs roster, eight are foreign born. Power forward Tim Duncan was born in the Virgin Islands if you want to be lenient and bump that figure up to nine. Altogether seven foreign countries are represented: France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina and Canada. Head coach Gregg Popovich even graduated from the United States Air Force Academy.

The Spurs' Tim Duncan headlines a largely international roster.

The Spurs’ Tim Duncan headlines a largely international roster.

In true international relations fashion, American players have the largest impact on the Spurs. The transcendent defense of swingman Kawhi Leonard and steady greatness of Duncan make this team a favorite to take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy this summer.


Math major – Houston Rockets

Assembled by general manager Daryl Morey, known affectionately throughout the league as “dork Elvis,” the Rockets have solved basketball.

When watching the Rockets you’ll notice that the vast majority of their shots are taken from either very close range or beyond the three point arc. The elimination of long two point shots from the game plan is based on the simple fact that three points are worth more than two, unless the shot is taken at the rim and therefore has a better chance of going through the hoop.

We’ll have to see whether defensive adjustments in the playoffs give the Rockets’ game plan trouble. In any case, James Harden will be a force to be reckoned with this postseason.


Psychology major – Dallas Mavericks

Psychology majors might be interested in following the Mavericks because of the point guard Rajon Rondo, who is currently making a run at being the biggest headcase in the league. Rondo pouted his way out of Boston, saying that he hadn’t been playing defense for the past couple years. Why any professional basketball player would openly say that they haven’t been trying at any point whatsoever is beyond me.

Dallas has struggled since acquiring the point guard in a blockbuster midseason trade. Head coach Rick Carlisle would be pulling his hair out if he had any left. Regardless, Rondo is one of the most interesting minds in the NBA, as evidenced by his most recent interview with Baxter Holmes for ESPN, which can, at best, be described as curious.

For example, he can’t stand plot holes in movies. “I didn’t understand how he got the cop’s number,” Rondo says about Denzel Washington’s “The Equalizer”. “It was just too much.” Hilarious, perplexing or straight up weird, Rondo’s post-game press conferences always have been and always will be all time great.

I’m sorry if I didn’t get to your major, and if I did I hope that I convinced you to tune in this weekend. The NBA, at its most basic level, pits teams of millionaires against each other in a game that comes down to a remarkably simple game of putting a ball through a hoop.

Ignoring that fact, it boils down to performing under pressure, contorting bodies in mid air and bright lights reflecting off of the hardwood. If you can stand the commercial breaks, watching basketball is truly a rewarding experience.

Julian Boireau
Julian Boireau is a senior majoring in international relations and minoring in French. This is his fourth year working for TKS, having served as co-news editor during his sophomore and junior years. He has been involved in journalism for seven years, serving as opinions editor of the newspaper and editor-in-chief of the literary magazine at Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. In September 2012, Julian received press credentials to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, where he reported on remarks by President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. He is also the recipient of back-to-back first place awards from the Illinois College Press Association for front page layout.

Tags:  chicago bulls dallas mavericks houston rockets la clippers san antonio spurs

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