Posted by Neil Paine on September 22, 2010
Hey, remember the Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers? If not, go back and check out these posts (I'll wait):
Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB) Setup
Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB): Regular Season, Stage 1
Basketball League of Amazing Benchwarmers (BLAB): Regular Season, Stage 2
Finished? Awesome. In short, the basic premise of BLAB came from a post about random Facebook groups devoted to 1980s-era journeymen, then one thing led to another, and next you know I'm putting together a sim league with teams comprised entirely of memorable but below-average players from the recent past. Now, after a quick 4-month hiatus, BLAB is back and ready to conclude its first (and, you gotta think, only) season.
End of Regular-Season
When last we left The League, the Special Ks (led by player-coach Larry Krystkowiak) were the toast of BLAB, sporting a 16-4 record that had them sitting in first place. Their chief rivals, the Lone Wolfs, had started the season 8-2, but a 5-5 skid at midseason left them 3 back of 1st. And in 3rd place, Team Mokeski held a slim lead over both the Duckworth Ducks and Kite's Flyers in the scramble for the final playoff slot. Things were set up for a great stretch run, so what ended up happening?
For one thing, the 'Ks cruised in with a 6-4 record in their final 10 games, clinching the #1 seed and a guaranteed place in the inaugural BLAB Finals. Any designs the Lone Wolfs had on challenging the Krystkowiaks for the top seed vanished when they lost both of their head-to-head matchups; instead, the Wolfs ended up sputtering to 4-6 down the stretch and barely hanging on to their #2 seed.
The battle for #3 briefly heated up when the cellar-dwelling Rambis Rambos caught fire with the inside-outside combo of Chris Dudley and Brian Shaw, winning 8 of their final 10 in a desparate playoff push. In the end, though, they fell short because Kevin Duckworth's Ducks won 7 of 10 to close the regular season, locking up the last postseason spot with a 16-14 record.
Greg Kite's Flyers predictably finished last, but joining them in the basement was Team Mokeski, who started the season in 3rd place at 6-4 yet went 6-14 the rest of the way (a collapse we can only assume was due to a locker-room feud between Damon Jones & Kenny McIntosh). Here were the final league standings:
For his outstanding play all season long, the Lone Wolfs' Mario Elie was named the BLAB's Most Valuable Player. When explaining why, Commissioner Blab said the reason was simple: "After 11 seasons, you still go out every night and play like Mario Elie." Enough said!
Here were the league's Win Shares leaders:
In BLAB, the top 3 teams in the league make the playoffs, with #2 facing #3 in the best-of-5 semifinals (#1 gets a bye), and the winner facing #1 in the best-of-5 BLAB Finals. That meant Round 1 would pit the Duckworth Ducks against the Lone Wolfs, with Games 1, 2, & 5 played at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill, NC, and Games 3 & 4 played at Lantz Arena in Charleston, IL.
|G#||Home Team||Away Team||Winner|
|Gm1||Lone Wolfs||Duckworth Ducks||Lone Wolfs|
|Gm2||Lone Wolfs||Duckworth Ducks||Lone Wolfs|
|Gm3||Duckworth Ducks||Lone Wolfs||Duckworth Ducks|
|Gm4||Duckworth Ducks||Lone Wolfs||Lone Wolfs|
(Lone Wolfs win series 3-1.)
Despite the evenly-matched records of the two teams, the Lone Wolfs came out and dominated the Ducks at home in Games 1 & 2, led by the devastating play of Chris Gatling and Mario Elie. Dave Corzine, T.R. Dunn, and Keith Askins helped the Ducks strike back with a home victory of their own in Game 3, but an uncharacteristically poor Game 4 by Kevin Duckworth (he was thoroughly outplayed by Chuck Nevitt) led to a Wolfs win and the Ducks' elimination from the playoffs. That left just two squads to face off for the highly prestigious Uwe Blab Championship Trophy... With the season on the line and everything at stake, which team would dig deep and find a way to prevail?
|G#||Home Team||Away Team||Winner|
|Gm1||Special Ks||Lone Wolfs||Lone Wolfs|
|Gm2||Special Ks||Lone Wolfs||Lone Wolfs|
|Gm3||Lone Wolfs||Special Ks||Lone Wolfs|
(Lone Wolfs win series 3-0.)
By virtue of the better regular-season record and the #1 seed, the Special Ks would be playing Games 1, 2, & 5 at home in Missoula, MT, at Dahlberg Arena. The series opened with a pair of upsets as the Lone Wolfs squeaked out two close wins in the Fighting Krystkowiaks' own territory. BLAB MVP Mario Elie had a disappointing start to the Finals, but the Special Ks' three best players during the regular season -- Mike Wilks, Krystkowiak, and Will Perdue -- were totally M.I.A. in the losses (instead, the Ks' Win Shares leaders were Luther Rackley and Anthony Johnson, which is never a good sign for any team).
Still, facing elimination on the road in Game 3, the 'Ks felt their superior depth and talent would eventually carry them back into the series. They were wrong. Chris Gatling earned 2010 BLAB Finals MVP honors largely for his work in Game 3, as he destroyed Krystkowiak inside and propelled the Lone Wolfs to a shocking 3-game sweep of the favored Special Ks for the BLAB Championship, a surprise victory that evoked memories of the 2004 Pistons-Lakers NBA Finals. It was a fitting end to the first -- and probably final -- season in BLAB history, but you never know if BLAB may someday pop up again... As Gatling shouted to the rafters after time ran out in the championship-clinching game, "Anything is POSSIBLLLLLLLLLLLLE!!!!!!"