Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Grey Nathan talks about favorite teams

I thought I would get things going by writing an actual article. I wrote it quickly, but I hope you enjoy and comment.

When I was really young and I first fell in love with the NBA, I didn’t really have a favorite team. I had favorite players. The first player I ever heard about was either Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’neal. One of the first games I remember watching was a Bulls game, on a Sunday afternoon on NBC. Michael Jordan was dismantling some other team and making it look so easy. I don’t know if the concept of favorites occurred to me back then, but if it did then Jordan was probably the choice. But as I became aware of his popularity, my interest in him decreased. For some reason or another, I was born with the ability to hate things solely because other people liked them. So as I began to realize how much Jordan was adored, my hatred for him grew to equal the public’s level of adoration. So I moved on. But I didn’t move far. Scottie Pippen became my man. Later I grew out of him and started replacing him with the new and exciting young players. The younger they were, the more I liked them. I bought a Kobe jersey when he was still 18. I practiced rolling off of invisible screens to catch backdoor alley-oops like Kevin Garnett. I looked up the rosters of every team because it listed the ages of the players; Tracy Mcrady was my favorite Raptor when he was averaging 5 minutes a game. Basically if a player was young I assumed he could dunk. And if he could dunk, he was exciting. That was all that mattered.

But my love of players eventually developed into a love of teams. Growing up in western Canada, I didn’t ever feel a sense of loyalty based on geography. We weren’t really close to any of the teams. So I stuck with the players. When I realized Kobe was a jerk, or when he became popular, I moved on.

As I grew up and came to understand the game a little better, I began to appreciate more than just huge dunks. I began to admire the way John Stockton and Karl Malone played the game. It wasn’t flashy, but it was beautiful. The Jazz became the perfect candidate for my favorite team. They were the good guys against Michael Jordan, the super villain of my childhood. But that didn’t last long. I didn’t really feel any sense of loyalty to them. I started liking them when they were already at the top, and probably would have liked any team that filled that role against Jordan’s Bulls. So what seems like a perfect match turned out to be only superficial.

It turns out the roots of my dedication to a specific team started long before I ever really realized it. And the reasons for my dedication seem much more shallow than my reasons for liking the Jazz. But despite seeming shallow, my reasons for true dedication are much more real than just supporting the current competition to Michael Jordan. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Sometime not long after seeing my first Bulls game, I remember watching a game, not on NBC, being announced by someone with a heavy accent who kept referring to his partner as “Cooz”. The team they were announcing for wore the most wonderful green jerseys. They weren’t fancy like Orlando’s or Houston’s. They didn’t have a cool logo. The only thing written on them was something I read as “keltics” (which, turns out, is how it’s probably supposed to be pronounced). I was in love. My whole life, my favorite color has been green. Not light green. Not dark green. Not forest green. Just green. And those jerseys were pure green – the definition of green.

From that point on, whenever I happened upon that higher cable station (which I guess was a Boston network), I found myself hoping the guys in green would win. Turns out I became a Celtics fan at the worst time possible. They were awful in the 90s. And they were a terrible team for someone like me who loved individual players. They didn’t have anyone. Come on Dana Baros and Dino Radja! But I loved them all the same. And while it seems strange to base a love for a team on the love of its color, it can work. It has worked for me through all these years.

Then in 1995 Canada got its first NBA teams. For some reason I loved Toronto and hated Vancouver. I guess my love for Jurassic Park outweighed my love for forest wildlife. It was the right choice. The Raptors have stuck around and gradually replaced the Celtics as my top favorite. This was for one reason: my patriotism. My love for Canada outweighs my love for green. But just barely. (A green maple leaf would make me lose my mind)

So why am I telling you all this? I wanted to make up a list of rules of being a true fan. I remember reading a Bill Simmons article about this a few years ago. I hope I don’t steal too much from him. But this is something I’ve thought about a lot, and I wanted to get my rules out there. And I hope this sparks some sort of discussion.

Rule 1: You can pick a favorite team for any reason at all

For me it was because Boston wore my favorite color. It could just as easily have been the Charlotte Hornets because the first basketball I ever had was one of those outdoor rubber ones, and it had the Charlotte hornet all over it. Or it could have been Phoenix because I loved using the password and playing as the Gorilla on NBA Jam. Any reason will do. And that brings me to the next rule

Rule 2: You must stick with that team no matter what

That means sticking with them when they’re terrible and when they’re awesome. Sometimes that’s hard for me. When they Celtics became good in 2008, and all the bandwagon jumpers jumped on board, it made it more difficult. But I was still excited. Also, Rule 1 and Rule 2 depend on each other. You can’t pick a favorite team for any reason if you’ve already become attached to one. But again, you must stick with that team through good times and bad.

Rule 3: You can only have one

I know. It seems like I’ve broken that rule. But this one is crucial for obeying rule 2. Having a few favorite teams seems like the best way to feel like a true fan of the current best team. But that’s cheating. That would involve breaking rule 2. You’d be leaving one team and jumping to another. You can’t do that. So how do I justify being a Celtics fan AND a Raptors fan? Easy. I use Exception 1: Geography. This could be controversial, but I feel like the only reason you can justify having 2 favorite teams is if you don’t live close to any of the teams. But the 2 favorite teams will never be on the same level. They have to play each other sometime and you have to root for one. For me, it was hard to choose between Boston and Toronto. Then they played each other and I couldn’t help but cheer for Toronto. But I think that also has something to do with how they’re not good, and Boston currently is.

Another exception is Exception 2: Steve Nash. This one means that anyone in Canada can claim to be a Suns fan while Steve Nash is there. Normally this would be bandwagon fanship (not a word, but you know what it means). But Canada has never had anyone that awesome, so it’s only fair. And even when he retires, no one in Canada has to pretend they still like the Suns. No one will admit it, but we all feel the same.

Well I thought I had more rules, but I can’t think of them now. And I want to get this posted. So let’s get some discussion going, and then in a little while maybe I’ll post an updated version.


  1. One more rule I meant to add. Every year everyone gets one bandwagon team. As long as it's clear you're not a real fan - it's more that you're just interested in that team this year. This year everyone is going to be interested in Miami. But no one besides Cam can claim to be a Heat fan before this summer.
    For me this year, I'm actually excited about Utah, even though I hate to admit it because Jazz fans are terrible, except for TLD. But I'm excited for Jefferson. I feel like this will be a perfect situation for him. It will be fun to see him and Deron Williams run things.

  2. Nice first official article to get this thing kick started.I agree with all of those rules as far as they explain the parameters of choosing and rooting for a favorite team. I had a couple of extra thoughts to add.. like how in the playoffs, things change when all of your favorites are eliminated (ie. when the nuggets made it to the conference finals two years ago).. or .. how the lakers, pistons and pacers can never be anyones favorite team unless you live near there.
    Ultimately I think your rules are a great guide to being an NBA fan with a moral code (which if followed, I think, makes following the NBA way more fun)... Maybe we should come up with more rules expanding other facets of the NBA that can become the 10 commandments of being and NBA fan. haha.

  3. Good points Miller Regent. The Lakers, Pistons, and Pacers are probably the most unlikable teams in the NBA. And I like the idea of expanding the rules into 10 commandments. I want to rewrite this article anyway. I know it's just a blog for our buddies, but I want it to be as good as possible, and I think I could have done better. I was just eager to get the ball rolling. But let's definitely expand the rules and then I'll post and updated version.
    I like the playoff rule. I feel like it kinda goes with my last rule that you can pick a new team each year. Maybe each round you can pick a new team so the playoffs aren't boring. There's nothing more boring than a game whose outcome doesn't interest you. That's why I've never liked hockey until the gold medal game this year. And now it's much easier to care about hockey because I now have a favorite team. So that's why I think favorite are so important. Without them sports just aren't as interesting. Like the 2009 finals. I hate the magic and the lakers so I couldn't have cared less who won. So it does matter.

  4. Also, it's very easy to write "and" when you really want to say "an". MR and I both did it.

  5. Yes, yes it is easy to write "and" instead of "an"... it's also very hard to pick up on the error when you read over your post right after writing it.

    As far as your article is concerned.. I liked it, and I just thought the 10 commandments idea could be a completely different article. Yours focussed on the rules of picking a favorite team, the 10 rules I thought could include your 3 rules plus 7 others that include all aspects of being a true NBA fan.. but ultimately I'll leave that up to you to decide on how to do it since it is your article after all.

    I also didnt think this was too rushed, atleast it doesn't read like it was rushed.
    I am excited to hear what other people think of it as well.

  6. P.S. My Picture is of when I busted my nose and I'm in the emergency room... It's bad assssssssss.

  7. Ya I thought you had a good starting article. You need to start with how to be a good NBA fan. I agree about the playoffs rule as well. Once your favorite team is out (which is quite often for me and my Mavs :( Booerns!) then you need someone to cheer for. I'm not a huge fan of the Celtics, but I sure was cheering for them in the finals.
    I've been thinking about your rules and have a couple of additions/extra thoughts about it. I think if you truely have a favorite team then you must be haunted by some aspect of that team's past. For example, I will always hate the Heat, and specifically Wade because of the 2006 finals when he pretty much beat the Mavs single handidly. I am also pretty haunted by the Golden State upset, especially since it continually resurfaces on any top upset show. Now, as Grey is a Raptor's fan, I would think that you would be haunted by Vince's missed shot in game 7 against Phily. Imagine how the franchise would have changed had that shot gone in. (I'm typing on a french keyboard and can't find the question mark, so just pretend that last sentence is a question).
    Another thing that shows your a true fan is if you can convince your girlfriend/wife to remember and like your favorite team. I keep trying to get Jacquie to learn more obscure players for the Mavs, and have done pretty well. She even has a second favorite team now (the Magic, cause she likes Howard and his huge shoulders!), which I think is a good sign that I'm a big fan.
    Anyway, those are a few of my thoughts. I'm not sure if they would fit into the 10 Commandments (which I think should be Paynee's first article), but I think they're relevent.