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Updated: June 2nd, 2014 1:36pm
P.J.R.: If hockey fans are so hung up on variety in champs ...

P.J.R.: If hockey fans are so hung up on variety in champs ...

by Patrick Reusse
Email | Twitter

This simple and astute observation was offered by me on Twitter in the late hours of Sunday night: "NBA has two best teams in finals. NHL has a No. 5 vs. No. 6 (seeds). Tells you about puck and luck.''

My Twitter feed @1500espn_reusse is not exactly a go-to location for hockey dialogue, yet enough puck heads ran across this to cause quite a protest ... including several of which were profanity laced.

I'm assuming most of these responses came after the Star Tribune's Mike Russo offered his negative view of my theory to his Twitter followers. He's the man in this town, and when he opinionates, the hockey zealots pay attention.

The familiar accusation that this was merely "trolling'' on the part of a reporter/commentator who doesn't understand the greatest game on ice actually was overstated in this case.

I've been known to throw out stuff merely to agitate the highly defensive hockey crowd, but this was a comment on the facts of the case:

Over 82 games, San Antonio was the best team in the NBA's Western Conference. Miami took the foot off the gas pedal as it eased to the second best record in the East (behind Indiana), yet there was never much doubt that the two-time defending champion Heat was a greater favorite in the East than were the Spurs in the West.

The result is that two exceptional teams - San Antonio and Miami - that figure to replay the drama of their seven-game final last June will again be featured by the NBA.

Was it predictable from the start of the playoffs that it again would be the Spurs and the Heat? Yes.

And so what? There's no need for the NBA to apologize for having the shining knights of team basketball, the Spurs, taking on the best player in basketball history, LeBron James, and his talented support crew in a finals rematch.

Nobody's asking for an apology from the NHL, either. As the NHL has expanded to 30 teams and it has become a salary-cap league, dynasties are gone. You'll never see the like of the Edmonton Oilers or even the New York Islanders again, because you couldn't keep all those stars together long-term.

The difference between the NBA and the NHL in the playoffs is simple: In the NBA, you play to 105 points and the best team generally is going to win. In the NHL, you play to three goals and it's basically a coin flip.

During the Wild's series with the Blackhawks, hockey interest was high around here and people would ask me, even me, "Who is going to win tonight?''

My answer was consistent: "Don't know. It's going to be 2-2 in the final 10 minutes and then one team is going to score ... probably on a lucky bounce.''

Hockey fans embrace the unpredictably that has taken over the playoffs. Fair enough. But for me, it's more interesting to watch the two best teams in the world play for a title, than a fifth seed against a sixth seed.

Among the Twitter ridicule from the puckheads toward the NBA was this: There have been eight franchises that have won the past 30 titles.

If this is the criteria that lifts the NHL over the NBA - the variety in champions over the past three decades - then the NHL takes a back seat to baseball, the sport ridiculed most often for its lack of parity.

The Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA title in 1983. Since then, these have been the eight franchises with champions: Lakers (8), Bulls (6), Spurs (4), Pistons (3), Celtics (3), Heat (3), Rockets (2) and Mavericks (1). There will be a repeat winner with either the Heat or the Spurs.

The New York Islanders won the fourth of their NHL titles in 1983. Since then, the NHL has had 15 franchises win a Stanley Cup: Edmonton (5), Detroit (4), Pittsburgh (3), New Jersey (3), Chicago (2), Montreal (2), Colorado (2), with one apiece for the Rangers, Kings, Calgary, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Anaheim and Boston. There will be a repeat winner with either the Kings or the Rangers in 2014.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 1982. Since then, there have been 19 franchises to win the past 30 World Series: Yankees (5), Red Sox (3), Giants (2), Cardinals (2), Twins (2), Blue Jays (2), Marlins (2), with one apiece for the Phillies, White Sox, Angels, Diamondbacks, Braves, Reds, A's, Dodgers, Mets, Royals, Tigers and Orioles.

There have been 15 franchises to get an NFL championship in the past 30 Super Bowls: San Francisco (4), N.Y. Giants (4), Dallas (3), New England (3), Green Bay (2), Denver (2), Ravens (2), Pittsburgh (2), Washington (2), with one apiece for St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Seattle and Chicago.

Hey, numbers don't lie. Baseball = balance.


Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He co-hosts SportsTalk from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and hosts The Ride with Reusse from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. He also co-hosts "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Patrick | @1500ESPN_reusse | The Ride with Reusse