We are about to say goodbye to three more conference finalists. Their seasons will end with a loss. Outside of a championship win, it's the only way a team's season can win.
But TV shows can end a season several different ways. Here they are. With a look at how they might work in sports.
1. The Spin-Off
A network takes a popular ensemble character from a staple show and makes an all new show surrounding that character.
TV examples: "The Cosby Show" births "A Different World," "Cheers" begets "Frasier", "Friends" gives way to "Joey."
Sports example: The Cleveland Cavaliers are a playoff staple. But now the star of the team, Lebron James, is going to New York to play for a woefully inept team for huge money before a demanding fan base and press corps. Hilarity ensues.
2. The Death
A major character passes away.
TV example: Izzy, theblonde girl in "Grey's Anatomy."
Sports example: Following Orlando's sweep in the Eastern Conference Finals, Stan Van Gundy murders Vince Carter.
3. The Birth
A new cast member arrives: an adorable little baby.
TV example: Jim and Pam have a baby on "The Office."
Sports example: Before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Delonte West informs Lebron James that he is the fathering a child with his mother.
4. The Dream
The main character wakes up, realizing the whole thing was a dream.
TV example: Bob Newhart in "Newhart."
Sports example: Kobe Bryant wakes up. He's in a jail cell. Dammit. He didn't walk on that rape charge in Colorado.
5. The New Character
A new cast member arrives: an adorable little non-baby.
TV example: Most of the shows that have ever been on television.
Sports example: The Lakers advance to the NBA Finals thanks to the clutch performance of someone never seen before: Andrew Bynum.
6. The Surprise Ending
Something completely inconceivable happens.
TV example: Pretty much every season of "Lost."
Sports example: The Philadelphia Flyers come back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins. And here's the inconceivable part: their fans don't act like total dickwads about it.
7. The Open Ending
Some questions are answered. But many new ones are raised.
TV example: Pretty much every show ever.
Sports example: A Cleveland team loses in the playoffs. Will a Cleveland team ever win in the playoffs? (Actually, no. This is a bad example. We know the answer to that question. Apologies.)