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Fanbases: The blessed and the cursed

#1 User is offline   Favian Pua 

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    Posted 22 August 2011 - 02:56 PM

    There’s nothing more exhilarating than being a fan of a particular NBA team, staying the course through the highs and lows and holding your breath as the game boils down to the last possession. The true-blue supporters stick with a squad whether they are poised to make a championship run, are on the fringe of making the playoffs, or are hoping to catch a break on the ping pong balls for the annual draft.

    Without further ado, here is a team-by-team breakdown of whose fans have been tricked or treated. I’m taking into consideration the current team personnel, the management’s decision-making, recent events that have transpired, the media’s perceptions and ramifications that have turned a franchise around for better or for worse. In short, anything goes. Try to look at it as a power ranking on a macro perspective.

    Included is the attendance rank of each team from

    I. We feel for you…

    31. Seattle Supersonics: I know, I know. They're already defunct. It has been four years since Seattle was associated with an NBA team. What hurts was the fact that as recent as 2005, the Sonics were making noise in the WC Semis with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis (and Jerome James) leading the way. The Clay Bennett/Howard Schultz/David Stern drama resonates to this day.

    2010-2011 Attendance: N/A

    30. New Jersey Nets: The team is moving to Brooklyn in 2012-2013 at the soonest, but it’s not like the fans will have to learn the art of letting go. The Nets have been nondescript since their last playoff appearance in 2007. Their best player, Deron Williams, has only played with the team for two months and is in Turkey right now, so there won’t be that much attachment issues.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 28th

    29. Charlotte Bobcats: MJ might be the best player of all-time, but he is also the owner of an active NBA franchise with the third-most putrid combined winning percentage (38.7%). The team has produced only one All-Star (Gerald Wallace), made the playoff once and has yet to win a postseason game. Expectations for Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo and Gerald Henderson must be tempered.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 21st

    28. Minnesota Timberwolves: The mischief managed by Kevin McHale and David Kahn has made the T’Wolves the butt of jokes among NBA pundits, casual or expert. This team is down in the dumps and the fourth Jonas Brother, Ricky Rubio-Jonas, is expected to bring people to their arena with his Spanish brand of basketball. Whoopdee-doo. Suddenly, seven consecutive first round playoff exits would be a nice change. Oh, wait.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 24th

    27. Toronto Raptors: The Raptors have managed two first-round exits in the past five seasons, and going to Air Canada Centre for the next few seasons will be as cold and dreary as the frigid temperatures up in Canada. The most fans can expect from them is a nightly slam from DeMar DeRozan and nothing else aside from that.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 19th

    26. Detroit Pistons: In 1990, the Bulls swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and the latter was never the same. 18 years later, the Pistons fell to an inspired Celtics team, speeding up their crash from their annual ECF visit from 2003-2008. The trio who gave them a 2004 title are still there, but seven years of stagnancy has crippled the team. Firing John Kuester is a move in the right direction, but the Motor City fans cannot get revved up just yet.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 18th

    25. Cleveland Cavaliers (2007 Finalist): Say the L-word in Cleveland and expect invectives to be hurled, if not a burned jersey. However, in the seven seasons LeBron James played there, the basketball culture was forever redefined. From 2006-2010, the Cavaliers became a household name. It was a great time to be a fan, bandwagon or otherwise. Was. At least the fans still come in droves see the games. They are faithful masochists, the lot of them.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 3rd

    II. In limbo

    24. Indiana Pacers: Fans? Indiana has fans? After succesive ninth-place finishes in the East, the Pacers have finally broke through in the Eastern Conference playoffs where they wilted to the Bulls in round one after blowing big leads. What is more disconcerting was that in spite of making the playoffs, Conseco Fieldhouse still ranked dead last in attendance. I don’t think the people there appreciate the nuances and intricacies of basketball, even when their energetic big man is nicknamed Psycho T. I hear the crowd there is into this sport called racing. Google it.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 30th

    23. Sacramento Kings: The Anaheim relocation project seems imminent, barring a late rally from Mayor Kevin Johnson and company. The bandwagon load significantly grew lighter when guys like Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Quincy Douby took over the roles Chris Webber and Mike Bibby vacated. Right now, the Kings are pushing a youth movement of Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette, only making the John Salmons re-acquisition even more dubious than it already is.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 29th

    22. Washington Wizards: New uniforms, same old sloppy play. Washington has yet to make the playoffs under Flip Saunders, and with the core he has, it does not look like much progress will be made. Fans still flock in droves to the Verizon Center if only to watch John Wall and JaVale McGee connect on a fastbreak play or to wait for Andray Blatche to do something really boneheaded.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 17th

    21. Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings and the rest of the Bucks were supposed to take the Eastern Conference by storm. It began with his 55-point outburst as a rookie that garnered national attention. But then the freak injury to Andrew Bogut happened, and Milwaukee continually struggled to put points on the board as the season progressed. Newly acquired veteran Stephen Jackson will remedy that to an extent, but no one will be taking Milwaukee seriously.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 23rd

    20. Phoenix Suns: The quintessential limbo team. The remnants of seven seconds or less have been laid out with the departure of Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. What is a team to do with Steve Nash, the loyal and prized fighter these old and gray Suns team send out to battle for a Pyrrhic victory? Unless Lon Babby has a trade deadline package up his sleeve, this desert will be waiting until the end of this decade for the Suns to rise again.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 15th

    19. Philadelphia 76ers: The coaching carousel makes it difficult to track Philly’s progress. From Mo Cheeks to Tony DiLeo to Eddie Jordan and now to Doug Collins, this team has sneaked in to the first round playoffs thrice in the past four years. The City of Brotherly love has stayed patient with the team through the post-Iverson saga but they have yet to be rewarded. The loyal ones have hoped for Elton Brand to regain his 20-10 days, but those are already from a lost time. The fans would love to keep Andre Iguodala, but if his staying will hinder the team from advancing, then it would be best to part ways for a true number one option.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 25th

    III. Middling out

    18. New Orleans Hornets: From Hurricane Katrina to ownership issues, the Hornets just can’t catch a break. And with Chris Paul’s impending free agency, the buzz is growing louder and louder in the Bayou, but not for the right reasons. Their immediate concern is David West’s contract, but there are too many distractions that keep the Hornets faithful from being optimistic for what is to come.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 26th

    17. Memphis Grizzlies: The collective sigh has been exhaled. Memphis has not only won a playoff game, but also a series in upset fashion, no less. It has been a pent-up frustration ever since Chris Wallace made a Pau Gasol donation to the Lakers. Now Grizzlies fans are treated to an amalgam of talent waiting to explode at any given moment. Whether it’s a Rudy Gay blow-by or a great defensive effort from Tony Allen, the fans’ prayers have been answered. However, I’m curious as to where the fans are. They are near the bottom in tickets sold despite their well-documented playoff run.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 27th

    16. Houston Rockets: The Yao Dynasty has come to an end and dissipating for the most part is the Chinese community who wholeheartedly rode the Rockets bandwagon for the past decade. For those who are sticking it out with the Rockets this year, be warned that this will be the first year of true growing pains. This motley of talent and upside is really young. A quick look at their roster shows that only their two stars, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola, are above 25. However, this youth movement has a predictable ceiling and it doesn’t look like a future superstar is coming out of the fold. You have been warned. It’s been said over and over again: 2009 feels so long ago.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 20th

    15. Golden State Warriors: Only two things come to mind when “Warriors” and “recent successes” are placed in one sentence: the 2007 “We believe” battlecry against the Mavericks and Baron Davis’ dunk over Andrei Kirilenko. Nowadays, fans are always brought out of their seats by a Monta Ellis coast-to-coast dunk or a Stephen Curry-Dorrell Wright connection. However, they won’t be gathering much props outside San Francisco unless they get more W’s.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 10th

    14. Utah Jazz: What a tumultuous season it has been for the Jazz. After Tyrone Corbin took the mantle from Jerry Sloan, Utah stumbled to an ugly 8-20 finish. In a string of playoff runs from 2008-2010 though, the Jazz were always in the thick of things come playoff time. The only frustration of the fans was how they could not get over the hump against the Lakers, falling to them in each of their last three visits. The quasi-dynamic duo of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer never got their act together, but now the Jazz can boast a plethora of big men in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors who will be assets over the long haul.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 7th

    13. New York Knicks: Things are looking up for the boys in the Big Apple. From welcoming back hometown hero Carmelo Anthony to their first playoff appearance since 2004 (albeit getting swept), optimism is afoot. Then again, any other team recovering from the damage Isiah Thomas created would say the same thing. Fans have been tortured for too long under Zeke’s reign that the winning culture was set aside and forgotten. It’s ironic now that Eddy Curry is gone, MSG will finally be packed up to the brim.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 5th

    IV. Grabbing attention

    12. Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are only one of three teams that have made it to the conference semifinals each of the past three seasons (Boston and Los Angeles are the other two) but that doesn’t seem to be enough reason to pack Philips Arena. With Alex Meruelo’s purchase, the Hawks look to put ownership issues behind and focus fully on basketball. The fans need to be enticed that the Hawks are not simply doling out salaries to second-tier players like Joe Johnson but are capable of contending out in the East to boost paltry ticket sales.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 22nd

    11. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin is the ringleader of this Clipper circus and Eric Gordon is no slouch either. Until the Clippers keep in step with the Lakers, they will still have the perennial label as “that other LA team”. With so much ridiculous upside and talent, it’s impossible to shelve this team, and the Angelenos can start investing their emotional support for a team riddled with so much bad luck over the last few decades.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 13th

    10. Denver Nuggets: Now that the Melo-drama is in the backburner, Nuggets fans have a lot of above-average players that are ready to take the driver’s seat on any given night. The nightly cheers in the mile-high city are not lessened by altitude or air pressure, but branding and image-wise, the team will have to focus on true star players to root for. Someone who the collective can rally behind the way they did when Anthony played for them all those years.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 16th

    9. Portland Trail Blazers: The turmoil of having a languishing Greg Oden on the sidelines is enough to drive any Oregonian out of their wits. There mere mention of Kevin Durant can drive them into hysteria. Portland has always been good, but they have always been key management decisions away from making a serious run since 2007. In good faith, the fanatics are still very much alive simply because the “Jail Blazer” impression has been showed out the door. The heart of these Blazers, as epitomized by Brandon Roy’s Game 4 outburst, tells the whole story.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 2nd

    8. Orlando Magic (2009 Finalist): The Magic are still ranked this high at this point in time by virtue of Dwight Howard’s mere presence. Come back next year and see how the Magic fans will handle his departure. How will the Disneyland dreamers fare when Howard shatters their championship hopes? The crucible is laid out; this is the Magic fans’ last taste of a serious run in a long time with implications of him bolting in 2012.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 9th

    7. Miami Heat (2006 Champion, 2011 Finalist): Here is where the lines are blurred. Social networking has blown the Heat out of proportion, making them larger than life (Heatles, anyone?). Over in South Beach, however, fans seem to take for granted the blessings bestowed upon them. The tagline “FAN UP” was created simply because there were empty seats to begin the games, highly uncharacteristic for a team coddled by the media. The biggest zing here would be the fact that the Cavaliers ranked higher on the attendance chart than Miami. Ouch.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 4th

    V. Loving life at the top

    6. Oklahoma City Thunder: After two thrilling postseason runs, Oklahoma City fans have much to be excited about. Ever since they babysat the orphaned New Orleans from 2005 to 2007, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are the league’s feel-good team that one cannot help but fall in love with their unique brand of basketball. The rabid supporters even went out of their way to convince Ellen DeGeneres to come out and support them.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 14th

    5. Boston Celtics (2008 Champion, 2010 Finalist): The insufferable fans are back among the elite believing their team can win it all, even as competition grows tougher and Father Times creeps closer and closer. There are glaring question marks on the team’s longevity and foresight, but as of today, they remain in the hunt to win it all, probably until 2014 or so.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 11th

    4. San Antonio Spurs (2007 Champion): Peter Holt’s blueprint of success is a testament that a team does not need to exceed the luxury tax threshold to become multiple champions. Though their core is aging gracefully, management continues to make smart decisions (we’ll let them go on the RJ acquisition) that makes them a legitimate threat. Holding them back from a higher position in this list is the fact that they play for a relatively small market.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 12th

    3. Dallas Mavericks (2006 Finalist, 2011 Champion): Heartbroken fans found reprieve and have picked up the pieces as the Mavericks, retooled and almost indistinguishable from their 2006 selves save for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, finally brought home the bacon. It has been a long and arduous road for Mark Cuban and his potty mouth, but at least for now, the Mavs faithful are the happiest among the Texan triumvirate.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 6th

    2. Chicago Bulls: Newly minted MVP Derrick Rose and Co. still have a sour taste in their mouths following a premature exit in what many believed would be a run all the way to the Finals to cap off a 62-win season. Nevertheless, the gusts of excitement in Windy City have never been this powerful since 1998. The crowd attendance speaks for itself. United Center is definitely the place to be once more.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 1st

    1. Los Angeles Lakers (2008 Finalist, 2009 Champion, 2010 Champion): Let me begin by saying that the fans in Lala Land are not only treated, but lavished and spoiled altogether. The personalities embellish the Staples Center where Magic Johnson’s bronzed imitation stands. Jack, Snoop Dogg, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Adam Levine. I could go on and on. A casual fan easily identifies the Lakers with a winning tradition, missing the playoffs only four times since moving from Minneapolis, making them an easy team to cheer for (and to back a bet as well). By the way, they have this guy named Kobe Bean Bryant. Some say he’s pretty good. Top ten even. I think I will watch some of his highlights right now.

    2010-2011 Attendance: 8th

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