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(Damon's latest at EBONY explains why he's a fan of NBA players first, not NBA teams.)

Growing up, my three favorite basketball teams were the Lakers, Bulls, and Warriors. I had a poster of Run TMC, a Bulls Starter jacket, and dozens of Laker t-shirts, sweats, and shorts. Since the Pittsburgh papers didn’t print NBA boxscores and Sportscenter came on past my bedtime, I’d make my dad buy USA Todays just so I could see how these teams fared every night.

And then Magic (my third favorite player) retired because of HIV. And then Tim Hardaway (my second favorite player) tore his ACL and was done for the season. And then Michael Jordan (my favorite player) got suspended, er, quit for two years to play baseball. And I realized I didn’t give a damn about the Lakers, Warriors, or Bulls anymore.

Those events took away all sports fandom pretense for me. I didn’t like those teams because I liked those teams. I liked the players who happened to be on those teams. Once those players were gone, there was no reason to continue to root for those teams. So, instead of forcing myself to suffer through Bulls games with Pete Myers and Lakers games with whoever the hell they had running point after Magic retired (I think it was Sedale Threatt), I embraced the bandwagon; continuing to root for the teams my favorite players happened to be on, and not just the team. Which, when you think about it, makes more practical sense than allowing a team to keep your allegiance. As Chuck Klosterman once put it, when you’re rooting a particular sports team, you’re basically just rooting for laundry.

(Read the rest at EBONY)