A Little Story About Fandom (Fanaticism?)

We stopped believing in 2007.

I wrote an ethnography on the crazed (if not, at times, delusional) psyche and behavior of Golden State Warrior fans during their 2007 playoff run in college a couple of years ago. It was one of the most bizarre research projects I’d ever embarked upon because I had to force myself to assume the role as an outsider, rather than a participant. I’d go to sports bars during a game, and I’d subdue (as best as I could) my excitement every time time Stephen Jackson put up an ill-advised shot 5 feet from the 3-point line. I mean, for the sake of my paper, I had to note how everyone else was reacting, and I couldn’t do that if I was jumping up and down, screaming relentlessly, all while obliviously spilling my beer on the person next to me. For the first time ever, I was able to observe what it was that makes me a Warrior fan.

The biggest thing I took away from the whole experience was the incredible tenacity of Warrior fans. It didn’t matter that the team had no real big man, or that they were shooting at an unsustainable rate from 3-point land, or that the team just matched-up absurdly well versus the Dallas Mavericks — Warrior fans believed they had just as good a chance of winning a championship as anyone else in the playoffs. And when their world came tumbling down after coming back to earth versus the Utah Jazz in the next round, Warriors fans, while upset, were simply happy the team pulled off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history.

The obvious answer to being content with “failure” has to do with expectations. No one expected the Warriors to make the playoffs that season, let alone upset the number 1 seed. And even though deep in their hearts they were full aware the team was not nearly as talented as the others in the playoffs, the sky was never falling for the fans and the team. After they beat the Mavs, anything they accomplished from there on out was icing on the cake.

While it sucks to be a fan of a perennially bottom-feeding team, the kind of season as detailed above are what makes being a fan of losers so special sometimes. It’s all the crappy years that make your truly appreciate all the good times.

I had originally intended for this post to act as an opposing view to my previous post about the chicken littles that exist in Shark land after a 2-game losing streak. And then I thought this would be a good tie-in to my aforementioned (still) planned post about my “devolution” of love and passion for the NBA, which started mid-90’s with Mj’s Bulls, naturally, and then peaked near the Warrior playoff run. But I decided this post could probably stand on its own.

So what’s the point of this post? I guess to bring a little bit of nostalgia back for Warrior fans, such as myself, who seem to tread the line between fanatic and casual fan. I guess that makes me a fair-weather fan? Well, sure, I can accept that. Label me whatever you want.

I have no blinders on. I’m 99% sure the Warriors are NOT making the playoffs, and despite the 2 wins over so-called contenders (the Bulls, yes; the Knicks are still missing some pieces, but even the Bulls are, too), but regardless of the impressive wins, I’m not convinced the team, as it’s constructed now, can be a legit threat in the West. Basketball is a big man’s game, and even though Kwame Brown is a big ball of mass in the middle, he’s not the big man they’re searching for. And Biedrins? Please. I wanted to amnesty his worthless ass.

As a fan, I have three wishes that I hope to see this year:

  1. I hope to see some semblance of a defense with this team.
  2. Monta gets packaged/traded for a big man. For who, I don’t know, but of the two guards, let’s face it, Monta WILL be the trading piece.
  3. Kwame Brown loses about 10 pounds. Or at least tones up. He looks like flab out there. Not cool.

I don’t think either of these are unreasonable, and all three of them will change the dynamic of the squad. One out of three of these would even be welcome.

I was at a sports bar on Monday night watching three TVs at the same time — the Sharks vs Kings, Warriors vs Bulls, and Saints vs Falcons. It takes some serious skill to bounce your eyes back and forth amongst three television sets all while a bit intoxicated, but somehow I was able to do it. It was a decent litmus test to see where my loyalties lied. In the end, not surprisingly, I realized I didn’t miss one second of the Sharks game. I caught Drew Brees breaking the record, and I caught Steph Curry’s 3/4’s court alley-oop pass, but the only times I’d tune in to those games was when the Sharks game was at a stoppage

So basically what I’m saying is someone is going to need to keep me updated on the status of my “Warrior Wishes” because most of my attention is probably still going to be directed towards the Sharks. But put it this way — if the Warriors can play defense before the end of the year, not matter the record, this Warrior fan will consider it a successful season.

*As an aside, Ricky Rubio has only played about 3 quarters but he’s already one of my favorite players, as long as he continues to make sweet no-look bounce passes. With him, the Timberwolves can be, like, the beta version of Lob City, the Lob City Juniors. Glad to finally see this kid in the league.  

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