Written By: Ty Carter
My dad would approach me every fall with the schedule and say “Pick 8 games.” Back then you could buy 8-game mini-plans and pick any eight games you want. I remember picking teams like the Clippers, Hawks and Grizzlies because I wanted to see the Warriors actually win a game. And I wanted to see my favorite player Antawn Jamison score 30+ points.
Times have changed. News broke yesterday that Kevin Durant plans on signing with the Golden State Warriors, a team that has won 140 games in the last two seasons and came within a few minutes of a second straight NBA title. The W’s will enter next season with 4 of the top 20-ish players in the league on the same team. They will also be the most hated team in the league for years to come.
I moved to Utah last June, right when my childhood team won its first title since before I was born. But apparently, that landed me on the “Warriors Bandwagon”. I get it. I’m in Jazz territory now. Anyone here that doesn’t like the Jazz MUST be a bandwagon fan. But what does that even mean? I’m the one that had to suffer through Calbert Cheaney mid-range air-balls and Bob Sura’s bleached hair. Don’t I deserve some credit?
Trust me, I know plenty of Warriors bandwagon fans. A friend of mine in high school wore a Sacramento jersey at least once a week. Peja, Webber, Bibby. The anti-Lakers movement was strong at the time and the Kings were the best shot at dethroning them. But now, that same friend’s profile picture on Facebook is him in a Curry jersey.
The Thunder organization is about to find out how many bandwagon fans exist among their fan base. They inherited Russ and KD from Seattle (RIP) and their first draft pick ever was James Harden. Now they might be 12 months away (or sooner…) from having no stars. It’s easy to embrace a team with young superstars, it’s a lot harder when someone as good (or bad) as Adonal Foyle is your best player.
Let’s say you lived in Utah in the late 90’s but weren’t too interested in the NBA. I’m sure you got caught up in the Stockton/Malone Jazz, right? What better time to become a fan and begin enjoying something you didn’t know you were missing? Would you blame someone who saw a perfectly executed pick and roll with Malone finishing at the rim and realized, “Hey, that was awesome!” Are we calling that person a bandwagon fan?
It seems now more than ever that the NBA is a star-driven league. Many people are more loyal to favorite players than they are the team. From irrational Laker fans that refuse to admit that Kobe’s last contract has hurt the team’s immediate future to Lebron fans whose favorite teams have been Cleveland, Miami and then Cleveland again. Do you like the Blazers because of Lillard? Do you like the Mavericks because you’re from the Dallas area? Did your dad love Bird’s Celtics and pass that on to you?
I hate all discussion of bandwagon fans. How other people choose their teams to root for won’t change how I feel about my teams. It shouldn’t affect your fandom either. If you are a true fan, stick with it. It took me years to even see my team make the playoffs. When you suffer through the rough times, the good times feel so much sweeter.