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Thread: Players or Teams?

  1. #1
    Word Enthusiast Steve's Avatar
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    Players or Teams?

    When making the Favorite Team post, it dawned on me that I couldn't pick a current favorite basketball team. That's not an issue with football, as I've always been a Cowboys fan and always will.

    With basketball it's different, though. Free agency seems to play a much larger role in the game, sending major players all over the place left and right seemingly every couple of years. Even with that aside, I've always been more inclined towards liking individual players over teams. For instance, I loved Magic Johnson as a little kid, but I never gave a flying fuck about the Lakers as a whole. That escalated with Michael Jordan and players in that awesome era, as I'd find myself rooting for the Bulls because of Jordan and Pippen, the Spurs because of Dennis Rodman, the Sonics because of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, the Magic because of Shaq and Penny or the Rockets because of Hakeem Olajuwon.

    I often see fans like me being somewhat ridiculed, though, as "bandwagon" fans and I don't think that label really fits. A bandwagon fan, to me, is someone who only likes a team because they're the popular thing at that given moment, seemingly shifting allegiances on a yearly basis. I tend to just follow players from team to team, though. My favorite basketball player of the moment is LeBron James, simply because I love watching the guy play. So I followed him from the Cavs to the Heat and back to the Cavs.

    I know that European fans, especially, are generally very dyed in the wool, hardcore fans of "their" specific teams. I'm unfamiliar with sports abroad, though, and don't really know how the free agent thing has impacted other sports. Do players switch football clubs as often as players seem to bounce around the various American teams? If so, is it abnormal for someone to follow their favorite player to his new team or do they instantly become persona non grata, as seen here in the States when people get all pissy and burn jerseys and stuff?

  2. #2
    Squared
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    I am probably the quintessential British sports fan so in most respects it's team first for me.

    It's not common that people follow players over teams in our football. A lot of our other main sports are either individual or organised around the national team at their most popular, so they are harder to compare. But in Soccer it's more likely you'd follow a club. There are what we'd call 'neutrals' who will bounce around to either the team playing the most attractive game or, as you say, their favourite stars.

    Players move round a lot. You don't tend to follow them but the emotional response to them leaving is rare and usually reserved for situations where a departure is less than amicable. I have been part of a few standing ovations for ex-players who were well thought of who returned with new clubs, as an example of the other end.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Oliver's Avatar
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    I don't know - maybe it was because I was a kid, but I loved Eric Cantona despite not being a Man United fan, and would probably have watched Man United games just for him. I still remember that 2-2 draw with Liverpool when he returned from his ban - assisted Butt for the first, scored a penalty for the second - and I watched and cheered along. Probably the only time I didn't love seeing Cantona scoring was when he was playing against West Ham.

    A lot of ex-West Ham players I tend to keep a level of interest in if they leave and I liked them - Jordan Spence, Freddie Sears, Freddie Kanoute, Samassi Abou, Scott Parker...I like the players so end up taking an interest in what they're doing.

    Then there are players for other teams I admire or like watching - Britt Assombalonga being the main one, even though he was at Forest and now Boro.

    There's also players who play for the continental sides that I support - Toulouse, Anderlecht, Celta Vigo, Gladbach. I do the same thing with their players as I do with West Ham ones, if I like them I tend to pay a bit of interest in them once the leave and at least check in on how they're doing.

    I mean, if you ask me who I support, I'll say West Ham without question and there will never be another team I love (and loathe) as much as them. But I think there is a bit of watching out for players of other teams in there too, it's just that I don't care so much if they do well or not.

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