One day after denouncing the entitled “new” Warriors fans and telling reporters that “We can forget those folks,” Klay Thompson walked back his comments. While wearing sunglasses. And eating a strawberry scone.
On his preferred medium of communication, Instagram Live, Klay Thompson changed his tune about casuals. “Bandwagon fans are a good thing,” he began. “That means you have turned people over to your style of play. So sorry if I offended anyone, that was not my intention. We welcome all Warrior fans, from around the globe.”
Sounds like Klay may have gotten a call from ownership explaining that, paradoxically, the most expensive seats at the Chase Center depend on casual Golden State Warriors fans, because the longtime loyal fans Klay was talking about in his previous comments most likely aren’t paying $2 million per year for a personal wine cellar. Or someone realized that with the Lakers eliminated from the playoffs, there’s a huge influx of bandwagon fans looking for a team to root for and pretend like they’ve always supported. After all, if you burned your Russell Westbrook Lakers jersey recently, you’re gonna be shopping for some new threads.
Not only that, but the Brooklyn Nets are also facing a tough battle through the play-in tournament to even make the playoffs, another huge blow to the bandwagon fan community. The Warriors are going to need crowd noise from casuals come playoff time, even if it’s probably too much to expect them to be back in their seats by the beginning of the third quarter. Still, once they’ve slipped the free playoff t-shirts over their crisp button-down shirts, finished their lobster rolls and artisanal popcorn, and downed a third glass of chardonnay, those fans can get pretty loud. Granted it’s usually while demanding to speak to a manager, but noise is noise!
There is a value to bandwagon fans, particularly as a way to keep ownership honest. After all, the Chicago Cubs had one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports, and ownership took them for granted and barely tried to win for decades. Maybe the front office is actually pushed to achieve greater things by entitled fans complaining about 50-win seasons, as if they’ve never watched Andris Biedrins try to shoot free throws or Mickael Pietrus step out of bounds every time he got a pass in the corner. It’s possible that the unflinching loyalty that Warriors fans showed for so many years at Oracle Arena also enabled owner Chris Cohan to settle for a player like Corey Maggette as his big free agent signing.
I personally think fans should have to pass a brief quiz before attending a playoff game, with questions like, “How many years did the Warriors give Jason Caffey?” “What did Jason Richardson do to Carlos Boozer in the Rookie-Sophomore Game?” and “Was the 1999-2000 season actually a great time out?” But I also understand that’s unrealistic. Captain Klay knows that like the ocean itself, basketball fans are fickle. The gangplank is down, and bandwagon fans will be swarming onto the S.S. Unstoppable Baby for the next few weeks, and hopefully months. I just have one request: When you know you’re going to a playoff game, please do not wear a crisp dress shirt! You’re embarrassing everyone!
(Note: The answers to those quiz questions are, Seven years, bounced the ball off his head and made a jumper, and no, it was a very bad time out indeed.)