In my most recent about the UBAS, I revealed my crazy scheme to go for the championship of this historical, fantasy basketball league. I made a flurry of moves, but the primary acquisition was Alex Groza – an elite starting center that would help push me to the top. I sacrificed a slight bit of future for the present, but I liked this trade and went all in for this season.
My prediction of earning a 1st or 2nd seed in my conference came true. Before the start of the year, I estimated my Rens would end up as the 7th or 8th seed but Groza immediately catapulted us upwards. I ultimately ended up with the 2nd seed, missing out on the prized 1st by just a game. However, I was stoked to have home court advantage and braced for the craziness that was the UBAS playoffs!
My first round opponents were the Philadelphia SPHAs – a team led by the electrifying David Thompson and trusty Jerry Lucas. I had won three of our four regular season matchups and they were all before the Groza trade so I was supremely confident I’d take the series. Boy, was I in for a shocker!
By Game 5, I was looking at the wrong end of a 1-3 record and possibly an unceremonious early exit from the playoffs. All of my work for naught! Luckily, Thompson went down with an injury that sidelined him for Game 5 and I was able to live to fight another day. Game 6 was a double edged sword – I easily earned the victory but lost Charles Barkley to a calf muscle sprain for 6 games. So, not only was my best player unavailable to me for a critical Game 7, but he’d also be out for the next round should I advance! I was a nervous wreck but home court advantage and Scott Fisher doing a Barkley-lite impression saved the day. I was on to the Semi Finals!
My next opponents, the Denver Rockets, scared the shit out of me. David Thompson had carved up my team, averaging 22.5 points per game and my next foe would include Thompson-on-steroids, Michael Jordan! Plus, they had Bob McAdoo in his Buffalo monster seasons. Add to this no Barkley for the first 5 games and I was downright worried. Luckily, the first round panic had led me to discover moving Harry Gallatin to my starting power forward – a move that added superior low post defense and even more rebounding to my squad. The two teams held serve for the first four games, I stole the fifth, and Charles Barkley rode in on his white horse to deliver us a victory upon his return in Game 6.
I was actually rather surprised with who I was facing when I reached the Conference Finals. The Trenton Tigers had only achieved the 5th seed, but they had tightened their lineup in the playoffs to force all of their really good players to remain on the court. It was a gutsy move as more playing time increased injury chances but with a relatively healthy squad, the Tigers had clawed their way to success. Trenton did not have an athletic guard to give me nightmares, thankfully, but they did have a behemoth in Neil Johnston and an elite-rebounding forward in Elgin Baylor to check Charles Barkley. I didn’t know what to expect, so I held my breath and jumped in.
Well, the Tigers stole home court from me in Game 2 – their suffocating defense limited my Rens to shooting just .348 from the field. However, Game 3 turned the tide as starting point guard, Pete Maravich and backup big, Gus Johnson, both got injured for the Tigers. Trenton amazingly pulled out a surprising victory in Game 4 but lost yet another starter in Andrew Gaze. With the Tigers finally succumbing to their shortened bench risk, the Rens easily won Games 5 and 6 and moved on to our first UBAS Finals appearance.
Sadly, we would be without Clyde Drexler for the first 2 games, as he pulled up limp in Game 5 of the Conference Finals. Worse, we were playing a truly stacked team in the Akron Firestones: George Mikan, Emeka Okafor, Shawn Marion, Jerry West and Tiny Archibald (in the year he led the NBA in assists and scoring). The outcome was short and never really much of a contest – the Rens were out in a gentleman’s sweep of 5 games, with Mikan earning Finals MVP honors.
Finally experiencing some success in the UBAS (the first year I didn’t make the playoffs, and I was swept in the first round of the second season playoffs) was a lot of fun but was it worth it to mortgage my future? To be honest, I don’t really think of it that way, as I still think I got the better end of the deal both for short and long term. Plus, the experience I gained in tweaking lineups in pressure packed moments of the playoffs will be invaluable for future seasons, as well.
I’ll reload for next season when I predict the Rens to be an even stronger force and look forward to another long postseason run – who knows, maybe this time I’ll get lucky and win the whole damn thing!