While we're counting our blessings on this day of thanks I couldn't let it pass without thanking the man who was the catalyst for my enhanced fan experience as it stands today; Ron Boone.
True story, I swear!
And it goes something like this...
I was resistant to participating in social media for a long, long time, considering it the domain of the young and restless. No way was I ever gonna "MySpace" or FaceBook" like some teenager full of angst. I'd seen the heaps of garbage spewed into the cyber-world and I wanted no part of it.
At the same time I'd been a lifelong sports fan who loved to debate the merits of this, that, the other, or even all three at the same time.
We were in a relatively new neighborhood to us at the time, and had gotten the internet for the first time nearly a year before, but all I used it for was to watch the standings, check the boxes and stats, and read the occasional article.
That is until Ron Boone said something I just had to share.
This was before Kobe Bryant had earned his first (and currently only) MVP award, when he was still basically blackballed by the voting community and was firing up 20-plus shots a game on a regular basis. The Lakers hadn't won an NBA championship since Shaq had left and with Kobe dominating the ball didn't look to be gaining another anytime soon. And he was coming to town.
As usual I was watching the Utah Jazz pregame show when they went to Boone to get his thoughts on the upcoming tip-off and the growing talk about Bryant and how he hadn't yet earned that elusive award that validated him as the best baller in the game.
That's when Booner said it, the gaff that had me "rolling on the floor laughing" for the first time.
"Well, certainly Kobe is the best team...er, player in the league..."
This was too rich not to share with the world! It inadvertently described Kobe of the time perfectly.
I immediately went to the computer and dusted it off, two-finger tapping furiously trying to figure out how and where to drop this high comedy on the basketball world. This is when I discovered message boards. It was quite a shock, let me tell you. Whole communities of sports fans as rabid as I was? Brilliant!
So, I created a profile that consisted of two of my greatest loves outside friends and family, rockhounding and Hot Rod Hundley, and told the world how funny Ron Boone was.
I was instantly surrounded by more
Laker Kobe fans than I'd ever imagined existed. Literally swamped and drowning is drooling Kobe-love I fought back, timidly at first, then more confidently as others came to my aid to defend their choices for MVP over Bryant.
This was fun! I dove right in, quickly learning to filter out certain types of commenting and commenters, to find those gems of knowledge hidden among piles of drivel. They're there, if you know what to look for.
The rest is history, I was hooked. This new-to-me fan interaction was too stimulating to pass up. It was simply a rush.
Now we have multiple choices and places we can interact with each other during games, and even better, in-between games and seasons to pass the time when we have little else to do. These communities create more than simply an enhanced fan experience; they can create lasting real-life friendships and impart new knowledge of the game to millions instantaneously.
And I have Ron Boone to thank for it all.
Had he not not uttered that one, hilarious-to-me phrase I would never have felt compelled to join you all in the cyber-sports-world. So the next time you don't agree with me, you know who to
You can follow Ron Boone on Twitter, @1041straight, a reference to his Iron-man-like streak of games played back in the day.