Like Cassius Clay, I grew up in Louisville, KY. At five, six, seven years old, I fell asleep listening to Louie Dampier and Dan Issel of the ABA Kentucky Colonels kicking ass.
Then a move to Talmadge, OH, close to LeBron’s hometown of Akron. My game was similar to his so NE Ohioans took to calling me LeRon. In fourth, fifth grade I fell asleep listening to the tail end of Lenny Wilkens’ NBA career with the Cavs.
Then SoCal where I patterned my game after Magic Johnson* and in 1986 bought a scalped ticket to the sixth game of the NBA finals in which my Los Angeles Lakers finally beat the dreaded Celtics.
Conventional wisdom is stick with your home team, but conventional wisdom is wrong. Like gender and race, “home” is a fluid concept. We move, life changes, the only reason to stick with your childhood teams is nostalgia.
If you think the Cav’s amazing come from behind, not NBA orchestrated, championship unleashed millions of lifelong long-suffering fans, wait until the Cubbies playoff run this fall. Nearly everyone you know will claim to be a long-suffering Cubs fan and we’ll be subjected to endless profiles of truly ancient people who’ve been waiting since pre-history for the Cubs to win it all.
Apart from LeBron, none of the Cavs are from NE Ohio. Odds are few or none of the players on your favorite, hometown team that you’ve always been loyal to are from the hometown.
Felony arrest records are another reason why fan promiscuity makes way more sense than unconditional love and loyalty. After Kobe’s infamous visit to Colorado, I began losing that loving feeling for the Lakers.
Then my Sonics were sold by that Starbucks son of a bitch, the ultimate wake up call. If teams can disappear based upon the vagaries of capitalism, you’d be pretty stupid to pledge blind fidelity to any one of them.
Despite my NE Ohio street cred, I dug the Warrior vibe the last few years. I was finding the bandwagon pretty damn comfortable. Love the long ball, the team chemistry, the high tech ownership, Curry’s daughter. So when the college senior watched the game with me for Father’s Day, and asked who I wanted to win, I told her, “Really, I don’t know, I’ll be happy for either team.”
Forty plus years later, after watching the upset and emotional outpouring, I’m definitely a Cavs fan tonight. By October, that may very well change.
* One LA evening, the Gal Pal and I were standing in line at a Century City movie theatre when Magic got in line behind us. “Oh man, Magic Johnson sighting!” I said. Looking around hopelessly, “Where?!” “Ah, the only 6’9″ brother.”