I wanted to do a positive post next. A post about something that DOES rock my world. The problem is I’m not feeling it right now. Even though the Jazz are still winning—even though I’m still enjoying the season like I never thought possible, the right guys aren’t really doing it right now. I need Deron, Millsap, Matthews, and Sloan to snap out of their little funks and get back to doing what I love seeing them do.
So, instead, let’s look at Laker fans and why they stink.
But first, a disclaimer. I’m not talking about the regular fans. I’m not talking about the guys who just love their team and cheer them on. I’m not talking about the guys who got drawn into Magic and Showtime and still loyally shout GO LAKERS!
Here’s what I’m talking about: I recently read an article about Tim Duncan and the Spurs. It was about Duncan’s legacy, the aging team, how Richard Jefferson hasn’t worked out as well as hoped, etc., etc., etc. Against my better judgement, I went down and glanced at the comments to the article. Again and again, I saw comments like this:
- "How many rings is Duncan going to get in this decade? 0 Kobe? 10. Lakers rule!"
- "Who cares about the Spurs? Lakers!!!!"
Those fans, posting those comments, are the ones I hate. And here’s what’s wrong with them:
1. They imply the only team worth cheering for is the one that wins a championship that year. All other teams are worthless. Fans cheering for those worthless teams are either stupid or just losers.
2. The comments were posted on an article about DUNCAN AND THE SPURS! It’s as if a teacher was taking pictures of the kids in the classroom to post on a classroom blog, and right as a couple poor kids were getting their picture taken a gaggle or rich snobs poke their heads in because they can’t stand any picture to not include themselves.
Seriously, I’m already subjected to 80 billion articles about the Lakers, Kobe, LeBron, the Summer of 2010 free agency, and the frakkin’ Knicks. Why can’t I enjoy reading about one of the greatest, classiest, winningest, and brilliant basketball players and teams without having more Kobe crap glopped on?
3. And above all, its the superiority complex. Just because they happen to cheer for a team at a championship-level peak right now, they (the frakkin’ FANS) are somehow superior to the rest of us.
Well do you know what? They don’t know the first thing about what being a fan is. And I’m also comforted knowing that they won’t know what sports-fan-joy is, even if their precious Lakers do with the next 10 titles. And maybe that’s why the Staples Center is so dead. You can’t really enjoy a team you believe the universe owes you.
So what does it mean to be a real fan? Here’s a few anecdotes.
- 70-year-old Cubs fans who wax nostalgic about watching Ernie Banks play on all those crappy Cubs teams.
- Red Sox fans who cheered like mad when Yaz won the Triple Crown in ‘67, leading them to the World Series — and then cheered even louder during his final seasons, when it was clear he was never going to be able to bring a championship to Boston.
- Edmonton Oiler fans who wept when the team shipped Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angelos Kings just days after winning their 4th championship in 5 years.
- Minnesota Vikings fans who come back year after year after year, no matter how awful the previous season ended.
- Utah Utes fans who still get misty-eyed thinking about Rick Majerus and the ‘98 runner-ups.
- Portland Trailblazers fans who go onto Clyde Drexler YouTube videos and post how much them miss the guy who never got their team a championship.
- Pittsburgh Penguin fans who most fondly remember — not the back-to-back champs of ‘91 and ‘92, not the Sid Crosby team last year — but watching Mario Lemieux lead the league in points despite missing a chunk of the season for freaking cancer treatment.
- And, of course, there’s us: Jazz fans. We still look back longingly to the days of Stockton and Malone. We still remember what that ‘97 championship series felt like—just to have the team there. Remember the ads on KSL? Gordon B. Hinckley and Craig Bolerjack with those huge grins, just because our team made it to the championship series? And even now we go crazy, shouting with the tops of our keyboards that Andrei Kirilenko will save us all, or NINJA!! even though we all know the team’s probably not going to win it all this year.
There’s so much more to being a fan than cheering for the team that wins. There’s the losses. The heartbreak. But a lot of good stuff too.
And when it’s all over, there’s a lot to remember and love, whether your team wins it all or not. No matter what happens in the future, I’ll always remember:
- the battles between Jerry Sloan and Greg Ostertag
- Stockton’s shot against Houston
- The Jazz sweeping Shaq and the Lakers in ‘98
- The Mailman massacring Isaiah with his elbow
- Deron going crazy after the All-Star break in ‘07 and ‘08 because he didn’t get put on the All-Star team
- Stockton’s elbows-out nasty picks
- Hornacek’s crazy running floaters when he jumped off the wrong leg (because, of course, the correct leg’s knee wouldn’t work)
- Benoit for 3
- Stockton’s miracle win against the Kings in ‘00.
- The Derek Fisher Game
- AK-47 making the All-Star game while Carmelo Anthony stayed home in ‘04
- Stockton missing the potential game-winner as the clock ran out in game 6 of the ‘98 finals
- The Mailman’s missed free throws in ‘97
- Watching sadly as the Rockets swept Orlando in the ‘95 playoffs, knowing that the Jazz would have also probably beaten the Suns, the Spurs, and the Magic had things worked out different in that stupid first round series.
And a hundred other memories I’ll never regret.
Would it be nice if the Jazz could have won it all sometime in the past 20 years? Of course. I would have gone crazy. Will I explode with joy if they can ever put it together and win it all in my lifetime? Are you kidding—I was so excited and wired after the Jazz beat the Blazers last Sunday that I had to go on a walk outside and then couldn’t fall asleep ‘till almost 2:00 a.m. I can’t imagine how I’d react to a championship.
But whether they do or not, it has been—and always will be—worth being a Jazz fan.
And that’s something those poor Laker fans could never understand.