Move over, pink Red Sox hats…the Bandwagon Fan Shop needs to clear shelf space. There’s a large shipment of #6 jerseys incoming, in your choice of white, black, red, english or spanish.
For those of you taking your fandom to South Beach, take your time to look around, and choose wisely. There’s spit-proof, Heat-color ponchos available. The dual purpose earplugs, which will help with cheering at home and unabashed hatred on the road, are also on sale now.
For this year’s road trips to Cleveland, there’s a raffle going on for a pair of tickets, bodyguards, and Kevlar vests. All proceeds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Martha’s Vineyard.
And I could be wrong, but I think that’s Big Z in the corner selling DVD’s.
While the new fans are busy looking at the merchandise, here’s a message for the people that considered themselves Miami Heat fans before July 8th (yes, I’ve heard the joke, all twelve of them).
Maybe we didn’t consider ourselves Yankees or Cowboys fans before (or maybe we did). We are now, at least to the rest of the country.
We might be sick of people saying the referees were the MVP’s of the 2006 Finals. That’ll be minor background noise the next time the Heat hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy, compared to the vuvuzela-like drone of the complaining and groaning we’ll hear from other NBA fans.
I keep saying “we” because the Heat have been my favorite team for several years now, since Wade’s rookie season. I remember watching him, Travis Diener, and Steve Novak knock my Missouri Tigers out in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament. I really liked his game, and when the Heat drafted him fifth overall that year, I began following the team.
I’ve never considered myself a bandwagon fan, but as I didn’t grow up in a city with an NBA team, my favorite team usually was whichever one my favorite player was on.
In the mid-1990’s it was the Orlando Magic. Penny Hardaway was my guy from the time I got my first NBA Inside Stuff magazine, with Penny on the cover holding a glowing basketball. Shaq quickly became a favorite of mine as well after watching the team. The Magic were a good team, but I still didn’t feel like I was selling out by picking the best team to root for, like all those Bulls “fans” in my grade school class.
Later on, when Penny’s knees broke down and Shaq signed with the Lakers, I jumped to the Pacers. I liked Reggie Miller, and Bulls fans didn’t, so I rooted for them (although I must admit I still followed Shaq, even though he played for a bandwagon team like LA).
When Wade entered the league as Reggie’s career was winding down, my interest shifted to South Florida.
Seven years and one title later…”The Decision.” Riley pulls the Godfather move. Dan LeBatard is on the radio screaming euphorically about double rainbows and purple drank.
I’m still getting used to being a fan of hated team. It’s clearly a better feeling than watching your home-grown superstar use a one hour special to tell the world he’s leaving your team and city in ruins, but it’s weird.
Can you make fun of your friend when his team gives Amir Johnson over 30 million dollars? Not without seeming smug and arrogant, unfortunately.
Can you tell people “at least I’m not a Lakers fan”? Yes, but there’s a good chance that’ll fall on deaf ears that really hate you.
I guess the real fans (not the ones in the checkout line with their “Tri-nasty” t-shirts) will learn to love the target on our backs.
After all, our team just pulled off the greatest free agency coup ever! We got a 25 year old two-time MVP for over 10 million less than Joe Johnson! Veterans are lining up at Pat Riley’s door to play for the minimum!
Bring on the haters!
LeBatard, give it to me again!