Long weekends and fantasy basketball

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Labour Weekend is just around the corner. For most New Zealanders this heralds the beginning of spring and the first long weekend after a long winter without public holidays. Some still use Labour Weekend as a time of reflection on its original purpose, a celebration of the eight hour working day (back in the 19th century people took the day off to attend parades – most of us just take it for granted nowadays). However, for me Labour Weekend usually heralds the beginning of the fantasy basketball season. With the NBA regular season kicking off on Tuesday 27 October, most fantasy basketball leagues will have their drafts over the coming long weekend.

Fantasy basketball merges my passion for the NBA with my interest in stats and managing my own team. I enjoy working with all the data associated with basketball, trying to make educated guesses on which players will perform, and working through all of this using complex formulae in an excel spreadsheet. Over recent years I’ve also been using the Basketball Monster website, which is an excellent resource of fantasy experts and has the best number crunching software available.

I’ve been a fan of the NBA since the late 90s. My favourite team, the Golden State Warriors, won the championship last season for the first time since the mid-70s – I’ll talk more about them in a later blog post. I was introduced to fantasy basketball when we moved to Dunedin in 2008. A number of the guys in the cell group we joined there were part of a longstanding league, the Dunedin Invitational. At the time, the bulk of the managers were from New Zealand (and most living in Dunedin). Now however, all but two of us are from overseas – primarily Canada – and now we’ve moved back home to Whangarei, the Dunedin Invitational has the odd quirk of having no managers actually living in Dunedin. I had a great start to my time in this league, winning the first four seasons I competed. Since then, I haven’t had as much luck, but it’s still great fun!

More recently I’ve also joined a second league which, interestingly, has a large contingent of New Zealanders. I was invited to join this league while on the Busersports forums (the precursor to Basketball Monster). This is a very competitive league – experienced managers, many of whom also use the Basketball Monster tools – so I haven’t had as much success compared to the Dunedin league. However, there was one amazing season when I went through the 20 odd weeks of the regular season without losing once, only to stumble at the final hurdle.

Over the past few seasons, particularly last year, I’ve struggled to commit as much time as you need to really succeed, due to time pressures (with work and family) and changes in focus (with my growing passion and commitment to church). However, I still persevere with it all, as it is one of the things I really enjoy doing, and I have somewhat of a bond with the leagues and other managers (who, bar one, I only know online).

So this weekend another fantasy basketball season begins, starting with two league drafts – wish me luck!

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