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Does a Fan following a Player make them a Bandwagoner?

Two years ago, Kevin Garnett screamed “Anything is possible!!!!!!!!” after winning the first championship of his Hall of Fame career. It took him 13 years to get what he deserved years before, and when he finally got it, there were plenty of people who were thrilled for him. The fact that he was on Boston didn’t make a difference. People are fans of Kevin Garnett, and it didn’t matter where he played. Even Laker fans, die-hard Laker fans, were happy for the man, even through their hatred for the Boston Celtics. At the time, it didn’t seem like there was much backlash from people who weren’t fans of Boston that just so happened to cheer KG on.

Fast-forward to July 2010, and a new day is born in Miami with Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James teaming up together. When The King decided to head to Miami, the Heat bandwagon seemed to swell up overnight, but unlike when KG went to Boston, there have been a swarm of people coming out and accusing folks of being bandwagoners for rooting the Heat on. Even when people say it’s not so much about the Heat as it is about cheering on LeBron, it still doesn’t matter. This all sets the course for the dilemma of today’s sports fan.

It seems like the most team loyalty is in the NFL, and for good reason. Fans ride for their team, no matter what. Rarely do you see a player change teams, and the fan of that player jumps ship to their new team. How many fans do you know are Washington Redskin fans, simply because Donovan McNabb is there now? They may want McNabb to play well, but don’t get it twisted; they’re not abandoning the Eagles in the name of Donovan McNabb. No way in hell.

The same goes for damn near any other team in the league. Personally, I’m a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan, and when it comes to the Cows, no one player will ever be bigger than my team. Syreeta will say the same about her Ravens. The Rev will say the same about his Eagles. Ed will say it about his Jaguars, Bryant about his Saints, and pretty much anyone else that I know will say the same for their team. When it comes to the NFL, we ride, end of story. The same goes for college football. Will B-Lew leave the Longhorns, if they take a dive this season? No way will he abandon 'em. He’ll simply stick it out. The same goes for Ed and myself with Oklahoma (as we saw last season), Keith Tolbert for Florida State, JAG with Ohio State, and anyone else who loves ‘em some college football.

For whatever reason, it just doesn’t seem the same for the NBA, and here’s my theory, which I like to refer to as The Michael Jordan Paradox. When I was coming up, damn near everyone wanted to be like Mike, and it got to the point where we rooted for the Bulls, simply out of our love, admiration, and joy of watching Mike play ball. Once Jordan retired, it’s like a mass of fans were suddenly left without a home.

Those legions of fans had a life-altering decision to make: do those fans stay with the Bulls, or scatter around looking for a new home, a new player to latch onto, or anything that makes them feel comfortable? I know three Chicago Bulls fans; THREE: Carlos Qualls, Celia Kelly, and Bryan Crawford. That's it. Honestly, I think those fans felt safer scattering for a new home, and it’s why we see so many nomadic fans today. Fans may feel safer riding for a player in the NBA instead of riding for a team, and let’s be real: unless your team is the Lakers, Spurs, or the Celtics, that logic is somewhat understandable, especially if you’re a NBA championship conspiracy theorist like me.

The question becomes then: when is it going too far? When are the lines blurred from being a passionate fan to being a bandwagoner? Should fans be able to have their own prerogative and not be judged, if they so choose to be nomadic in their fandom? It's yet another dilemma for today's fan. Let us know...

Be easy.
-K. Masenda
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!


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