My Foray into Basketball Bigamy: Part Three

A New Beginning: A New Hope

This is Part 3 of a 3 part series. For Part One click HERE, Part Two HERE or just scroll down… you know… its whatever…

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This past summer I moved from Lexington, Kentucky (college basketball Rome) to Seattle, Washington. I had been hoping against hope that the Sacramento Kings would be moved to Seattle for the refounding of the Supersonics so that I could be reunited with Boogie Cousins and Patrick Patterson on the same team, hoping this time to follow a more effective blueprint toward becoming a true fan. I was wanted to 1) get swept up in the wave of jubilation sure to follow after Seattle was finally reunited with pro basketball. I knew it would be much easier to become a fan of a team if I could see games in person and feel like they were a part of the same community I was a part of, like what happened for me in Lexington with the Cats. And 2) I hoped to use 2 of my favorite Kentucky Wildcat players to help bridge the gap for me. Boogie Cousins is a misunderstood Saint of a manchild and there is nothing I would have loved more than bringing him home to me in Seattle. But this was not to be…

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Does this look like the face of a lockeroom cancer to you? I thought not.

However, the memory of last year’s playoffs was too good for me to give up on my dreams of adopting a new NBA team for this upcoming season. SO if not the Sacremento/Seattle Kings, then who could I justifiably throw my lot in with? I knew I wanted to have Kentucky connections to a team so I had a few options. I could stick with the Kings if I loved Boogie so much, but that team reminded me too much of my Charlotte days with the ineptitude inherent in the franchise for me to follow through. I could turn toward the rising star that is the Washington Wizards and John Wall, but the presence of Emeka Okafor on that team feels like splitting up with your wife, only to have her become a low end stripper at a disreputable gentlemen’s club, only to patronize said establishment on a weekly basis and try awkwardly to avoid eye contact… so they’re out.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks

“Don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact, don’t make… DAMMIT EMEKA!!!!”

Jodie Meeks, a beloved and beleaguered Cat from the Gillispie Era was on the Lakers, but by this point I couldn’t stomach being a Laker fan. And the Hornets seemed too trendy a pick for me to go back to The Brow. (I’m a Lions fan you see. Gotta have me some loveable losers) I certainly wasn’t going to follow MKG back to Charlotte with Michael Jordan now heading the ship. Phoenix seemed promising with Archie Goodwin (one of my favorite Cats and a player who won’t be remembered nearly as fondly as he should be by UK fans because of the atrocious season that was his UK career) and Eric Bledsoe on board, and so did the Sixers with their new league darling GM and the acquisition of Nerlens Noel and a potential 2 lottery picks to add to that next season. But both teams seemed just too distant from me to make any connection with them. I had no reason to root for them other than these Kentucky players. So I gradually came toward the decision that I needed to make perhaps the most egregious flip flop of my sports fan career.

I decided I needed to adopt the Detroit Pistons. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I could unite my Detroit fandom across all 4 major sports, jump on board with my dad and make it a familial endeavor, and bring my attempts to love the NBA back to their 2004 roots, albeit on the opposite side that I started on. The entirety of that 2004 team at been swept away, especially Larry Brown, removing any remaining hostility I may have had, and so the time seemed right. If I couldn’t have a Seattle Boogie Cousins, I would adopt Detroit.

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(Just thought I should include the fact that after his time with the Pistons, Old Man Brown ended up with Charlotte. Yet another reason for me to have jumped ship.)

Moreover, there were a lot of positive reasons to pick Detroit. They were a team that was rebuilding (so I felt I could hop on the bandwagon closer to the ground floor without truly being a bandwagon jumper as they were not on course for a playoff bid) But they were rebuilding around some great young talent (so I could hope for the future and grow with a young team, watch them develop and get excited for their future prospects.) And most importantly, they had my second favorite player from my favorite Kentucky team of all time: Brandon Knight!

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(The Pistons may have permanently screwed him up flipping him between 2 guard and the point, but Brandon Knight is as clutch as it gets, forcing Kentucky into the final four through sheer testicular fortitude. PS That shot goes in if you were wondering. DOWN GOES THE BALROG)

I was choosing a franchise with real NBA history (much like my UK Wildcats) a team which had requisite UK ties (in Knight) and a core of potential future all stars in Knight, Greg Monroe, and most importantly Andre Drummond. They wouldn’t be a playoff team right away so I could grow with them and feel like I had invested before the big pay off of a playoff push. Everything seemed right. SO I started reading the great guys over at Piston Powered every day and began my new life as a Pistons fan.

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And then, very quickly, everything began to change. For one thing, the Pistons shockingly signed Josh Smith, a questionable move but one which is assuredly exciting and can’t really be argued with if the Pistons become a playoff team. They brought in Luigi Datome which really excited me. Who doesn’t want a Luigi on their team? ( I can see it now… “More of the European guy! Give me the European guy! Yeahhh jack up a 3 Luigi!”) But more distressingly for my purposes,.. my Kentucky connection was jettisoned.

Now, this move arguably improved the Pistons in the present (even if that meant mortgaging a small portion of their future) and as I was already beginning to identify with my new team I was OK with this but I was definitely sad to lose my UK connection on the team. And then… the Basketball gods once again delivered mana from Heaven for me, this time in the form of Josh “Jorts” Harrellson!!!!!

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Slayer of Balrogs and bringer of justice! Josh Harrellson is possibly my favorite Kentucky Wildcat of all time.

Be happy Pistons fans. This is what success looks like.

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I mentioned Knight was my 2nd favorite player on that 2010 UK team (my favorite team in any sport of all time). Well the only player I liked better than him on that team was Jorts! I was ecstatic! Moreover, while it doesn’t sound like Pistons wise guys think he’ll pay I think he has a place on this team! This Pistons team desperately needs shooting because of the abundance of talent inside after the Smith signing and that Jorts can do in flying colors!!! (just as the Louisville Cardinals). With Drummond, Monroe, and Smith clogging up the floor, having someone like Jorts who can mix up the lineup as a possible stretch-3 who can knock down shots would be infinitely helpful and I for one think (hope) Jorts will be able to outperform Singler, Datome, and Jerebko (although I do love me some Swedes) in that role. I couldn’t be more excited for Jorts’ future in Detroit! I just pray it lasts more than one year… or at least one year… please don’t cut Jorts Joe Dumars… I’ll be devastated!!!

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Watch out you Basshunter-lookin studmuffin… Jorts is here for your minutes

SO while its been a rollercoster summer with my newly adopted Pistons, I’m already falling in love with them and can’t wait to head into my first season with the team. I love all the Jalen Rose hommerism coming from Grantland.com. I love Jorts. I love the fact that noone knows if this team will be good or terrible next year. I love the looming Greg Monroe trade options and the looming potential Rondo acquisition talk. I can’t wait to see if Tony Mitchell can be the stellar pro he looked like he’d be during his first year in college. (and subsequently whether he can be another massive upswing product like Drummond in Detroit) I ABSOLUTELY love Andre Drummond (now that he’s not at UConn) and the Jennette McCurdy love story that has been going on this summer. Whether they’re really any good or not remains to be seen, but the Pistons will certainly be exciting this year on and off the court. These guys are young, exciting, endearing, and as far as I’m concerned this is the group I need to make my NBA fandom stick, and I can’t wait to get started.

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My Foray into Basketball Bigamy: Part Two

Pretenders to the Throne: My First Failed Choices of Fandom

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This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. For Part One click HERE or just scroll down… you know… its whatever…

Yes, Charlotte was getting an expansion team. This seemed an absolutely perfect fit for me. I was a new NBA fan without a team but with a burgeoning love of the league [insert sex joke here… hehe… insert…] and here was a shiny new team for me to grow with and develop a true love of the league and the sport from the grassroots. I knew they wouldn’t be good to start off with (clearly only a mild understatement) but I had faith that I could stick with them through their eventual rise (which has still yet to come… thanks Michael Jordan!). In any event this seemed to me to be simply too splendid of a solution to pass up. I was a Charlotte Bobcats fan and could not have been happier about it.

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(accurate depiction of me choosing the Bobcats, thinking everything will be fine. Oh whats that Brandon? Thought you were gonna toss that pass? Noooo… noooo.)

I absolutely devoured the expansion draft coverage with a voracity not unlike that with which small Japanese men consume hot dogs. I remember being absolutely shocked that we came away with Gerald Wallace. Here was the cornerstone of a franchise, an all star caliber player with inhuman athletic ability and we got him in the expansion draft before even adding the premier young talent we were sure to acquire in the actual draft! And I was especially ecstatic about Jason Kapono, a player I deemed to be a lights out shooter. And I didn’t know anything about Primož Brezec as a basketball player, nor did I know how to pronounce his name or why there was a little loopy thing over that z in his name, but NBA analysts at the time told me he was good so I was overjoyed to have the silly named Serbian on my new team!

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“Hey guys, are you sure you want me to come to Charlotte? Cuz I’m cool staying here in.. oh.. oh… no no ok I’ll back my bags” ='[

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Hey Gerald don’t look so sad! Things will pick up I promise!

And as for the rest of the expansion draft, I didn’t care so much about the rest of the guys because Charlotte made about a billion moves to acquire picks in upcoming NBA Drafts, allowing me to defer my excitement where I was sure we would build on this CLEARLY solid 3 player foundation of Kapono, Brezec, and Wallace. (again… have I mentioned that I was new to the sport of basketball at the time? I hope I have.)

Once the NBA draft rolled around I couldn’t have been more excited. Perhaps shaped by Bill Simmons I could not have been more enthralled by Emeka Okafor, the national title winning beast of a Forward out of UConn projected as the first pick in the 2004 draft. Unfortunately the first pick belonged to the Orlando Magic that year and my new love the Bobcats had to settle for the #2 pick which would most likely be Dwight Howard and I couldn’t have been more saddened by this. I knew enough about the NBA to know that there were far fewer Kevin Garnett’s than there were Kwame Brown’s when it came to prep to pro players and I was convinced the stick figure Dwight Howard would be just another bust. (Clearly 14 year old Rick was both prophetic and savant like when it came to his vast background of basketball knowledge)

BUT ANYWAY when the Orlando Magic made the imbecilic decision to take Howard over Okafor I was overjoyed. Not only were we adding an uber-talented young guy via the draft, we were grabbing a college senior with championship experience! It was like grabbing a veteran superstar with all the potential in the world! Clearly this would be the conerstone of the franchise. I was so ecstatic that I even asked my dad for an Emeka Okafor Jersey for my 15th birthday, which I still have today. Ohhh if only I knew…

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“Hey guys… I don’t think this team is actually any good…”

In any event I watched the first season of Bobcats basketball and, in spite of lacking results, was not dismayed. I knew they wouldn’t be good right away, but felt they had a legitimate core to build from with guys like Okafor and Wallace, along with a continuing irrational love of guys like Kapono, Matt Carrol, Keith Bogans, and Brevin Knight. (known in some circles as the cathartic quadroped) More than anything, however, I was excited for the next draft. I just KNEW with a little injection of youthful talent Charlotte would be on the rise! They had the #5 and #13 picks in the draft and good things would be forthcoming!

Moreover, my hopes were realized once again on draft day. I remember excitedly rushing into my dad’s office the night of the draft to explain my utter euphoria at the Bobcats having landed not only Raymond Felton, but Sean May as well! Two more veteran young guys off of another national championship winning team in UNC! (in retrospect I can practically see his eyes glazing over just by recalling it (I also had him take me to Minneapolis so I could watch Bobcats preseason basketball against the T-Wolves… I’m not entirely sure why he put up with this…)  I thought this team could flirt with an 8 seed in the dreadful Eastern conference and couldn’t wait for the season!….

… so then came the 2006 draft… #3 overall pick and Adam Morrison. I remember hearing people say big things were expected of him but honestly my faith in the Bobcats had already been shaken when I discovered that Dwight Howard was in fact much better than Okafor and that Sean May was in fact a fatty fat fat.

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Whoaaaa Sean… Buddy… keep the jersey on…

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Hey! Sean! Have you lost weight?!

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Oh… oh no nevermind… still a fatass…

I was barely hanging on when the 2006-7 season began, having gotten what I now believe is an adequate taste of the terrible management that is such a large part of the NBA and was probably out on the team before Morrison even lost his starting spot…

Thanks for the memories guys

However, though down I wasn’t out yet. The 2007 season reinvigorated me, watching Kevin Durant light it up as a rookie and that epic Boston LA finals was enough to reinvigorate me in a mercenary sense. I had dropped the Bobcats but I still liked watching the league as a whole. However, I had started to have a passing fancy in the Rockets after their 22 game winning streak that season led by Tracy McGrady. I really liked watching McGrady, and, much like Karl Malone before him, I wanted to root for this underdog reclamation project. Also, again because of Bill Simmons I had decided that Daryl Morrey was one of the coolest nerds around, and after my experience with atrocious management in Charlotte I thought watching a competent GM would be a welcome change. Plus, I had always really liked Yao Ming, and once the Rockets brought in Ron Artest (my personal favorite crazy man in sports) the temptation to root for Houston was just too strong to pass up. I didn’t really dive into the Rockets in an “uncalled for but obligatory use of the 1st person singular” kind of way but I really wanted to watch Yao, Artest, and T-Mac win a title. So when the playoffs rolled around in the 2008/9 season I was all in on them.

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Although it didn’t really work out I really liked this rockets team. Then in 2009 I decided to really hop back into the NBA for a second time. I was in the midst of watching John Wall and Demarcus Cousins destroy various bitches at Kentucky  and once that season ended I desperately needed more basketball. So I decided to call myself a Rocket’s fan and throw myself in it again. The real turning point probably came when Rockets drafted Patrick Patterson in the first round of the 2010 draft. Patterson was a favorite of mine and for many Kentucky fans on the 2009/10 team because he, like us, had suffered through the Gillispie years and was redeemed with the coming of Saint Calipari.  So I felt like I could use him as a bridge back into the NBA. I was hoping I could follow P Pat into the world of NBA basketball the same way I had with college basketball. I already liked the Rockets and Patterson was just the icing on the cake.

2009-10 NBA Press Conferences

However, I was still in my formative basketball loving years, and college was my true mistress. I was not yet prepared to enter the world of a basketball bigamist. There just wasn’t enough of me to go around. (You may not know this about me but I am approximately the size of Frodo Baggins, and as such am not easily split between two paths.)

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“Ahhh yes!!! I can’t believe Gandalf didn’t realize I’m too small to ride in the big boy cart! Best. Day. Ever.”

My lackadaisical Rockets “fandom” began to wane with the departure of Yao Ming and was long dead by the time PPatt was moved to Sacramento to rejoin my beloved Demarcus Cousins.

So once again I was teamless in the NBA. I knew I like basketball, but the NBA just hadn’t stuck with me yet. And then, last seasons playoffs happened. The 2013 NBA playoffs were absolutely stupendous. Some of the best, most dramatic competition I can remember. And I have once again been encouraged to attempt to life the weighty mantle of NBA fandom upon my shoulders, except this time I am determined to make it stick.