There’s Nothing Wrong With Being A Bandwagon Fan » VSB


There’s Nothing Wrong With Being A Bandwagon Fan

(Chris Trotman/Getty Images)


(Damon’s latest at EBONY explains why he’s a fan of NBA players first, not NBA teams.)

Growing up, my three favorite basketball teams were the Lakers, Bulls, and Warriors. I had a poster of Run TMC, a Bulls Starter jacket, and dozens of Laker t-shirts, sweats, and shorts. Since the Pittsburgh papers didn’t print NBA boxscores and Sportscenter came on past my bedtime, I’d make my dad buy USA Todays just so I could see how these teams fared every night.

And then Magic (my third favorite player) retired because of HIV. And then Tim Hardaway (my second favorite player) tore his ACL and was done for the season. And then Michael Jordan (my favorite player) got suspended, er, quit for two years to play baseball. And I realized I didn’t give a damn about the Lakers, Warriors, or Bulls anymore.

Those events took away all sports fandom pretense for me. I didn’t like those teams because I liked those teams. I liked the players who happened to be on those teams. Once those players were gone, there was no reason to continue to root for those teams. So, instead of forcing myself to suffer through Bulls games with Pete Myers and Lakers games with whoever the hell they had running point after Magic retired (I think it was Sedale Threatt), I embraced the bandwagon; continuing to root for the teams my favorite players happened to be on, and not just the team. Which, when you think about it, makes more practical sense than allowing a team to keep your allegiance. As Chuck Klosterman once put it, when you’re rooting a particular sports team, you’re basically just rooting for laundry.

(Read the rest at EBONY)

  • It’s funny that basketball is the only sport I do that with. I liked Bird, Kemp and Payton (I actually rooted for the Sonics), and Mitch Richmond so I followed them. Now I do that with the Spurs and Lebron but I don’t live or die with the results of the team. Otherwise I loyal to my football and baseball teams.

  • Val

    I’ve always realized it’s the player(s) I like and that’s why I root for a team. And, there are certain players I don’t like, Lebron/ Kobe/, which will make me root against a team. I used to root against the Heat now I’ll be rooting against Cleveland.

    Heck, I’ll even hate a team for firing a coach I like. I can’t stand the Niners because they did Mike Singletary wrong and the same goes for the Bears and Luvie Smith.

    And, I’m a NY Football Giants fan because I love my hometown. But, If the Giants moved to another city, they wouldn’t be my team anymore. When Kobe leaves the Lakers I’ll be a Laker fan again. L.A. is my second hometown.

    • Objection

      I feel you on the Kobe issue. I stopped liking the Lakers when Shaq left. I can’t feel you on the 49ers. I love the 49ers. I usually don’t watch the Super Bowel because the 49ers didn’t make it. I put on a Kung Fu movie when the Super Bowel comes on.

    • BlueWave1

      Kobe needs to retire. I’m of fan of the team (first) and his game as well. But there is a such thing as staying too long. The Lakers can’t turn the page and start over until he leaves and takes his shadow and his baggage with him.

      I’m all about regional loyalty. I root for L.A. teams (Lakers, Trojans, Dodgers) and the Niners. I think I get a pass for the Niners since L.A. doesn’t have an NFL team.

      • Huh Bruh

        Kobe averaged 27pts and 6 assists in his last full season. Why does he need to retire? You act like it’s easy to find an all time great player. If it were that easy, the NBA would be much more competitive and maybe stars wouldn’t be trying to link up as they are doing now.

  • Animate

    I’m guilty of this. Since the end of the 1st Jordan era I haven’t been a fan of any team. I’d follow basketball but nothing major outside of the playoffs. Now I’m a Clippers fan because of Chris Paul (I tend to keep up with point guards more than anything else). I will root for the Spurs because they play awesome team basketball.

  • Deebo

    (Cross posted from Ebony)

    Your POV would be ideal in tennis, bowling, archery, skeet shooting, race car driving, golf, The Academy Awards or any other solo sport or activity. But in team sports it’s about the team. Your chosen player, whether Magic, Bird, Jordan or Lebron, doesn’t ascend to greatness on his/her own. So once they leave, you’re saying the whole supporting cast that helped them elevate, invested in them, helped them grow is just…..meh….forgotten. The coach that brought the best out of them……poof pow begone. An interesting take but I think you’re right in that most folks sports loyalty comes from childhood and close connections with childhood heroes on their home teams. You didn’t have that so your loyalty developed for players, not a team.

  • SailorMoon

    Am I the only one who has a hard time believing Le Bron will retire in Cleveland? Hell Jordan didn’t even retire in with the Bulls, but at least he stuck it out with them for over a decade.
    I have a feeling it Lebron doesn’t win a ring within this 2 year contract he’ll be gone again, or he may give it 4 years and be gone. He just seems wishy washy, he doesn’t have team loyalty he has ring loyalty.

    • Amber

      I’m not a Lebron stan but I have a difficult time understanding the wishy washy argument. He actually seems decisive and thoughtful in his decision making process. I also think he’s just another representative of his generation when it comes to employment and how generation y will have more jobs/employers than the previous generation. It’s generally accepted that if players don’t produce they can be traded or dropped and few complain about their loyalty so I don’t think players should be anymore loyal than the organizations they play for, if the org doesn’t fit with their style of play or the team is not dedicated to actually doing what it takes to win.

      • SailorMoon

        Fair enough.
        I just don’t see him staying with the Cavs if they aren’t getting rings or at least making it to the Finals every year.

  • This is strictly almost exclusively a basketball fan thing.

  • veryaveragebrotha

    The thing about professional teams, is that THEY’RE PROFESSIONAL TEAMS.
    A professional team is NOT like a national team (where all the players are citizens of your country) or college team (where all the players went to your college). It is a business…nothing more and nothing less. Most if not all the players aren’t even from the city in question, and the owners would leave the city altogether if it made more financial sense.
    Professional teams are a business, nothing more and nothing less and as such, I support them like I support al businesses…according to which one gives me the best return for my investment.
    I never understand how people are so ‘proud’ to support professional teams regardless of performance…these folks also support businesses on their block regardless of how bad the product is??
    GO CAVS!!!

  • Secret Sauce

    Basketball seems to be the only team sport that has these bandwagoners because it’s the youngest of all the American professional sports, and the league and teams go out of their way to market individual players.

    In the NBA, more than the other sports (maybe futbol, too) it’s about the individual due to just the way the game is played, where one player can have so much impact.

    The game lends itself to one or a few players dominating the action. As a result, this creates the Birds, Magics, Jordans, Kobes, Shaqs and LeBrons of the world. Cats might not be a fan of the Heat, but they love watching LeBron play, and will root for any team he is on. Folks might not like the Lakers, but Kobe is the man, and will support him even if he’s on the Raptors. Plus, NBA players are allowed to be more expressive, have more flair, be more individualistic and flamboyant. You often notice that NBA players don’t wear shoes that are the same color scheme as their uniforms.

    And that is attractive to fans. Shoot, shoes are part of the reason why these guys are so popular, too. Wearing an NBA player’s sneakers means you identify with and support that guy on a personal level regardless of what team he plays for.

    Football, for example, is more tribal and communal. It’s part of the reason why the sport is so big in this country, especial at the collegiate level. Additionally, it has this rigid, militaristic feel, where all the players have to look and act the same as they club each other for three hours. Expression is frowned up. You can’t see their faces because they wear masks.

    If Drew Brees left the Saints for the Titans, nobody is gonna say I’m rolling with Tennessee now because they’ve been indoctrinated to only root for the players on their team.

  • ED

    With that logic you can never say you’re a fan of a team.

    • Kema

      My fandom is just not a static thing. *starts looking at Cavalier’s Jerseys*

      • ED

        lol you’re still a fan. Just not a fan of a team.

        • Kema

          But I am!!! Why do I have to pledge all my years to one team? I was a Heat fan for a few and now I’m a Cavalier’s fan. *Looks at team roster to find cuties to root for*

  • Its easier to “bandwagon” for a team because individuals drive the sport. Growing up the Celtics were on cable, Jordan was on NBC weekly so i became a “Bulls fan” for that interim. Same for AI and the Sixers. I didn’t start watching the Celtics til the early 2000s, terrible squads but Pierce played hard every night and he is the reason i ultimately grew to love the home team and now a dozen years and a birthday championship parade later we’re stuck with eachother.

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