The NBA is my addiction; I’ve come to terms with this fact. I’m entertained by nearly all facets of the league ranging from the actual game and individual performances to off-court antics, community out-reach and of course the lively fans.
Oh, yes, the fandom that ensues across the NBA is quite intriguing.
There are different levels of said fandom differing based on market and team culture; Sacramento has one of the loudest and rich fan bases across the NBA; Denver is more of a football town than a basketball one so there are myriads of homegrown fans mixed with NBA heads; New York may have the largest market of critical – and cynical – fans; Boston and Los Angeles fan bases have a legacy unparalleled in the league.
The point remains, one fan base isn’t the same as the next; some are more well-versed, while others just fan because they want to belong to the greater good.
I’ve been lucky enough to sit at Staples Center, TD Garden, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, The Palace, and United Center; with my favorites being the latter three. Many of my most vivid memories came from being in high school and traveling to Chicago once a month to take in the madness of the NBA. It was an energizing time and the crowds were vivacious; there wasn’t a social media platform to head to during timeouts or half-time; it was just you, the crowd and the game. It was glorious.
That’s not to say Twitter is at fault because it’s certainly one if the greatest things to happen technologically in the last 10 years, but rather it breeds misconceptions about NBA fan bases.
On Twitter, these fan illusions are perpetuated by giving voices to those that may have never attended an NBA game, let alone know their team’s history, have innate knowledge of said team, or monetarily support said team. That’s not to say any of the above constitutes someone being a better fan, but there’s certainly something to be said for having more knowledge of the team of choice than an “outsider” …
If this all seems condescending; it’s really not. I’m illustrating a point; a point that we, as NBA fans, shouldn’t have preconceived notions of what X-team fan is based on the twitter account of a 20-year old living in Marion, Indiana who loves the Los Angeles Lakers.
Finally, I come to my point, just as we shouldn’t lump – what I like to call “twitter fans” – into the same category as those that have been die-hard fans since birth, we shouldn’t expect fans to be rational.
My bread and butter is chastising and mocking NBA fans on twitter; yes, I realize that a Knicks twitter fan may not be a clear representation of an “actual” fan. Yes, there’s quite the difference once you start settling down and think about it.
However, I realized I shouldn’t expect fan(atics) to be rational just because I hold myself to a higher standard of non-reactionary thought doesn’t mean that others feel the same. The fact is, and the very definition, of a fan is their ability to look through rose-colored glasses and support said team with optimism and fervor.
I realized after the Celtics beat the Nuggets in a three OT game, and after reading countless tweets of “Fire George Karl” or “It’s time to blow up the Nuggets” – and I chuckled immensely – that I shouldn’t hold fan(atics) to a higher standard. Nothing I say, nor any knowledgeable person, will matter; their singular goal is to support and even to be the most reactionary about their team.
NBA Heads, critics, bloggers, enthusiasts really shouldn’t expect anything more than unadulterated love from fans for their chosen squad; let them cheer mindlessly; let them blame officiating instead of their team’s players; let them hate in the greatest players in the game; let them want to fire their head coach after every mishap.
Let them be reactionary.
Let them be a fan.
With the same thought, the fans should allow the critics, the enthusiasts, the League Pass aficionados do what they do and rationally interject and criticize their favorite team.
And as much as I poke and prod the 30 fan bases, I emphatically acknowledge my “writing” purpose would mean less.
We need fans, not just for our own bemusement, but to fill the arenas, to wear body paint, dress in hideous costumes, to hand paint signs, to raucously defend their teams.
We can’t have one without the other.
The yin can’t hang without the yang.