What does it really mean to be a fan? Is it throwing yourself in wholeheartedly to a team you care about? Is it about dedicating yourself to that particular team's wins and losses and letting that be a large part of your life? I'm not really sure that either of those are the case. I am absolutely devoted to the Warriors, moreso than any team I've ever followed, but I don't think that whether or not they win games is central to either my existence, or my fanhood. It sounds sort of weird, but hear me out.
Think of it this way. Let's say that a kid is growing up in Buffalo, NY. This kid is surrounded by Bills fans, including his parents. His uncle, however, is from MA and is a big Pats fan. His uncle takes him to a couple of Patriots' games, but in the end, he still becomes a Bills fan. He now must suffer the tortures of losing year in and year out and the pain of heartbreaking losses. But the thing is, I don't think he'd really be better off if he were a Patriots fan. He'd certainly get to celebrate more victories, but that's not what being a fan is all about and wouldn't really make his life any better.
The same goes for our beloved Warriors. The franchise isn't exactly a winner and we all really want that to change, myself included. That's an important part of being a fan, wanting your team to be successful. On the other hand, the things that I care about as far as being a Warriors fan is concerned, don't really relate to the results. I want to have hope that they'll win, I want to believe in the team and root for them, both of which are easier if the team is good, but mostly, I want an emotional outlet. I want to get too involved while watching the games (and posting on GSoM). I want to scream at my TV, jump for joy, and despise other teams. Winning makes it easier to care about a team, but it isn't why we care about our teams.
I guess that's probably why I don't get involved with all the attacks on "bandwagon" fans. They have their outlet elsewhere, and their threshold for having that hope and dedication to the Warriors is a bit higher. I don't mind that they don't care as much about Warriors basketball as we do. Probably because, to an extent, we're all bandwagon fans.
Think about it. Would you still be a Warriors fan if they went 0-82 for the next seven seasons? Or would you have become a fan if that were the case? Honestly, I hope not. You can't care about or believe in a team that has no hope to win. Or at least, it'd be really hard to do, and might require you to know the players on a personal basis. We grew attached to the Warriors through the moments where they provided us with that belief, that joy, and we reaffirmed it in the tough times (and we all know there have been plenty). Of course, without any chance of winning, it gets really tough.
That brings us to today. I'm not happy that the Warriors sucked this past season, but at least we can see room for improvement next year. I think that management made a lot of dumb decisions, trading for Crawford, extending Jack, and to a lesser extent, the Maggette signing, but really, how much do those decisions matter in terms of bringing us a championship contender? My guess is not that much. We won't be a championship contender without a superstar and here's my list of superstars: LeBron (who's on a level all his own), D-Wade, Howard, CP3, Kobe. Guys like KG and Duncan just vacated that level and guys like Melo and Rose are making an effort to join it (*Addition*: I foolishly left Roy off that list. Apologies to Blazers fans as he seems to be the next guy who will cross the superstar threshold). The point remains the same, there aren't many of those guys around and we aren't signing any of them in free agency. The extra year they can get from their current teams makes it tough for us to get anywhere in contract negotiations. We aren't New York, LA, or Chicago, so they won't get the endorsement perks for coming here either. That leaves us with two goals as a franchise. Draft a superstar and put an entertaining product on the floor.
Injuries this past year made it hard to call the product consistently "entertaining" but that should change this coming year. There were plenty of bright spots to keep us watching, and it's safe to say that we can expect those bright spots to put on a good show next year. I can't wait for the next Randolph dunk, Monta break, or Turiaf block. Those things give us enough hope to keep us interested, but don't expect a title unless Monta, Biedrins, and Randolph all play at an all-star level and we go get another great player. 29/30 teams won't win a championship next year, but that doesn't keep me from watching, hoping that the Warriors will win every game, even if they won't win a title. If the Warriors never win a title in my lifetime, my fan experience won't be a failure and I won't regret it and I definitely wouldn't want us to be the Lakers, overspending and always in contention. Those rough patches let me know that I really am attached to this team. As long as they give me a reason to stand up and cheer or be furious about boneheaded plays and bad losses, it'll be a success. They're my outlet and the rollercoaster they keep me on does a great job of keeping me involved, win or lose.
*Let's Go Warriors!*