Becoming a Hornets Fan

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Published: June 1, 2011
Becoming a Hornets Fan

Becoming a Hornets Fan

Becoming a Hornets Fan

I have an ax to grind today. For most of this season, The Fan has taken a beating in the sports world. I’m not talking about despicable events at games. That’s messed up WAY beyond what I’m talking about here.

I’m talking the abstraction, the archtype, and attacks on that idea and the people that manifest it. Between labor disputes, players leaving markets before their contract is up, relocation threats, demands for public money, rising ticket prices, just to name the irritations the popped into my mind, The Fan is left reeling.

The Fan doesn’t win if games are missed no matter which demands are met at the labor negotiating table. The Fan pays for the tickets and the arena, the latter by way of public funds, like tax breaks, just to have a player or franchise leave town. The Fan gets the blame for a team’s financial woes, rather than mismanagement at an organization or Association level. The Fan is stuck with the tab, jerseys of players that don’t exist, and rafters to hold banners for teams that would rather hang them elsewhere.

In short, The Fan does exactly what it is The Fan should do and more . . . and gets somewhere between ignored and curb-stomped as recompense.

Enough!

Today we celebrate The Fan as the latest in the Being and Becoming a Hornets Fan series.

A few conversations have sprung up lately that having a common theme: Becoming a fan. Some people have discussed how they became a Hornets fan in the forum or in the comments. Other people have asked me and others how they became fans.

As always, the beginning is a good place to start. Besides, we sit here, day and night, agonizing and exhulting over the team . . . we might as well take at look at how the hell we ended up doing it, eh?

I know there are some great stories out there. There Hornets have moved more than any franchise in the past decade, so whatever the reason, it’s interesting. It’s living history. I know some people’s fandom started with the gift of a cap in South America. Other people came across the Hornets by following a player, like paul following Aaron Gray. Still others got to this point though the accidents of birth and franchising. For folks like that (me), it’s hard to believe many huge fans have never seen a game live. How does that happen? I HAVE to know!

Thus, today, I’ll share my story of how I became a Hornets fan. I hope you enjoy it and share your story, too.

As lagniappe, I included how I became a Hornets247 fan. Feel free to do the same.

Enjoy.

Oh! Don’t forget about the survey. Feel free to use the comments to say whatever you want that isn’t covered in part one.



A long time ago in a parish far, far away. . . .

I was never a basketball fan. I grew up in the woods, away from public basketball courts. As a result, I played in my friends’ yards, sometimes after riding my bike for miles. I was never any good, partly because I was short and small, remaining so for most of my youth. More importantly, I was the shortest and smallest of my friends at the time.

Thankfully, I was fast, so I could do some damage in some track meets, and a little on the (American) football field when I muscled up in eighth grade. I put on 40 pounds in a school year, and that brought me up to `sleek’. It also meant I didn’t just have to rely of my speed to get me out of the trouble my mouth got me into. Growing up down here, football was king anyway, so why worry about basketball?

As a result, I didn’t follow the game too closely. I remember the Michael Jordan thing, and I remember seeing him score 69 when I was on a school trip. But most things beyond an occasional round of Horse eluded me.

Fastforward to 2002, and the word is we’re getting an NBA team. Well, that’ll be fun if it happens . . . but I’ve heard all this before. I’m in grad school, I can’t afford season tickets, and that’s what’s required to help bring them here, so whatever.

The Hornets came, and I attended some games piecemeal with a buddy I go to most things with via a small ticket package he purchased. During this time, I was very skeptical that there were even positions in basketball, and this was a topic of debate in every game for me. Also, what most impressed me, besides alley oops, was that the guys could dribble in a fashion inconsistent with the music that they were playing during the game. During the game?!?! Yeah, during the game.

In the aftermath of the storm, the Hornets were lost to me. I was happy that they had a home, but they were not on my radar as a top concern, if for no other reason than my beloved Saints were in the sights of relocation efforts. The plan was for neither the Hornets nor the Saints to play their 2005-2006 seasons `at home’ entirely. The Saints would return for the 2006 season, and the Hornets the following year. That sounded like a wise strategy, so I left it at that, focusing on the Black and Gold. I made it to a game they played here that first year. I made it to several in their second year of exile.

By the time the Hornets made their way back to New Orleans, I talked it over with my buddy, and we decided, essentially out of civic pride / duty, to upgrade to season tickets. We didn’t think we’d go to all the games, but we thought it’d be worth it in the long run if we got good value on the tickets and got more people involved, like other friends and coworkers. We did both of these, and it worked out well.

A few things happened over the next few years that I didn’t expect, however. One was the great season, followed by a good one. Ok, we all know winning attracts fans. Done. I’m a sucker, and I’m in.

But, wait! There’s more . . .

Need I mention the well-documented man-crush on David West?

Another was realizing just how much fun it is go to the games with a mix of people. It was a nice time in my social circle with everyone looking forward to going to the game, maybe with someone new. The games and the way we handled them really provided some time for many friendships to among my coworkers and friends. I still keep my bobbleheads at work for this reason. Our ticket outlay was as high as 10 before this season, and going into this season it’s 14 at this point . . . that’s alot of socializing.

It’s certainly not negligible started dating someone who really liked basketball when she was in college, so she enjoyed going to Hornets games more than the day-killing Saints game that, win or lose, made me grumpy. For instance, I complained for the entire drive back from the Super Bowl (with my same buddy), and that was after seeing races at Daytona, being given open access to the Homestead track, seeing a shuttle launch with 10 people around us . . . one I helped launch, and seeing the Saints win the damned game. What did I complain about? Our boys not getting the respect they earned. I’m still mad about it, actually. Anyway . . .

Most importantly, perhaps, my season-ticket neighbors were great. On one side I had a couple who were very much like me and my ladyfriend. He was in a similar line of work as us, which helped break the ice, but he was a passionate and informed fan, unlike me at the start.

On the other side, I had an older couple who, while mostly private, were more warm than cordial and were vicious fans. Their energy was contagious. When my buddy would bring his young daughter, the lady would light up and hold her, sharing her ice cream. Over time, we all grew friendly.

Just past this couple was a trio of seats filled by a very passionate guy and his friends. As they were father away, we didn’t talk as much, but Passionate Guy, as he will be know here, was certainly worth the price of admission alone.

The next season, the older couple leapfrogged the Passionate Guy crew, so we snagged up their pair. This allowed us to have even more folks going to the games with greater variety and put is right next to Passionate Guy.

During the course of these years, all these guys, but mostly Passionate Guy, tolerated my hopefully-measured-out empty-headed questions, each and every game, night after night, until I was a much more informed empty-headed fan.

If anyone is to blame for me becoming a Hornets fan, it’s Passionate Guy.



As you may know, I can be quite animated when overcome. A display of mine was witnessed by Niall, and that brought me here to Hornets247.

I bought seats to a Warriors game on Easter since friends had our group tickets. My seats were at the top of the Arena behind the baskets on the Hornets end. Before the game, actually, I got to cut a promo with the recently `retired’ Ric Flair (I was at the Wrestlemania were he `retired’ too), so I was all goosed up. It was just one of those days. All my parking was great. All my food was great. All my jokes went over swimmingly. You get the idea . . .

At this game, there was this incredible Warriors fan with this clap that should be studied by scientists. It was so loud, and he did it constantly. Pow, pow, pow . . . He was jawing at fans to the point where I thought he was going to be beaten if we lost.

In the end, we won, and Chris put up a triple-double. Overcome with emotion, I descended the steps with some alacrity, got to the landing right in front of him, stared at him until I had his attention, and burst out with a very dramatic `big gestured’ laugh, pointing at him all the while. At the end of this, again, overcome with emotion, I held up my CP3 MVP sign they’d passed out, bit a chunk out of it, spit it in the air, let out a primal scream, tore the sign in half, and tossed it in the air.

The crowd went wild.

It took more than a minute to get back to my seat with all the high fives. People were shaking my hand after, people were saying “That’s him,” coming up to me with thanks, etc. For 15 minutes, I was king of the prom.

The fan shook everyone’s hand shortly thereafter and left unscathed, by the way.

Niall, friends with Passionate Guy, came to visit at a game early the next season. Somehow he recognized me from giving this guy the business and handed me his card, inviting me to a Hornets247 watch party after explaining this blog thingy to me.

I went. It was fun.

I started reading the blog, but I didn’t write for a long time. I didn’t want to `get into that.’ Eventually, I had to write. Truth be told, it was Ryan’s analytical take and high-level nerd-powers that really got me hooked and made me want to contribute. Of course, I would not have felt comfortable putting myself out there if the community was anything but friendly and cool. And of course, I could talk about the things on the blog with Passionate Guy to kind of ease into blog mode.

I was fascinated not only by all the analysis, but also by the people. People from all over the world were watching this team and talking about it. With so many people so into it, it was hard to not become infected with that contagious energy, especially when the memories of furious wins were still fresh.

Over time, I wrote more and more, eventually obsessively enough to absorb the news duties here, slipping in the occasional article when the grown-ups aren’t looking. You think they’d catch on, yeah?

So what’s the point of all this?

I was a person who did not like basketball and didn’t care to do so. With a good team, a little help from my friends, and a proverbial `village’ of strangers from all over the world, I became a passionate and informed follower. I became a fan.



So what about you? How did you become a fan?

14 comments
D. Highmore
D. Highmore

Been a fan since 1991. I had to choose a team to follow, and at the time the only team merchandise widely available in the UK was Bulls & Hornets. My best friend was a Bulls fan, so I chose the Hornets. Didn't hurt that I loved their logo, uniforms and colours. There wasn't much TV coverage here back then, so I was lucky to see an hour's worth of Hornets ball per season - a minute here, a minute there. The first full game I ever watched was game 4 of the 1993 first round series against the Celtics. When 'Zo hit the buzzer beater to win the series, that was the moment I went from a casual fan to a hardcore obsessive...

Holy Cow
Holy Cow

So, here's my story. I'm a native New Orleanian and really enjoyed going to the Jazz games as a kid in the 70's. After the Jazz left I became a 76ers fan (really a Dr. J fan) and followed basketball through their relevant years into the early 80's. I began to lose interest but still watched during the Jordan era. By the late 90's I probably watched 3 NBA games a year. When the Hornets came to NOLA I was less than enthused. But, one Friday night I took my 10 year old daughter and her playground basketball team to see the Hornets play the Bulls (from way up in the Balcony). The following Monday was MLK Day and I had my company tickets 3 rows behind the Hornets bench. My client cancelled on me at the last minute so I brought my daughter to the game. Well that was all it took. She was hooked and we started to attend games. Fast forward to the magical 2007 - 2008 season and I bought a partial season package around Christmas and wound up going to all but 1 game the remainder of the year. We signed up for full season tickets and enjoyed the playoff series' against the Mavs and Spurs. I think the thing that I enjoyed most in my first few seasons of going to the games was being able to take my daughter. It reminded me so much of the great times I had going to Saints and Jazz games with my dad. Well, she's heading off to college in August, but, she'll catch a few games when she's in town. I became a fan of Hornets247 by happenstance. I'm not sure how I came across the website, but, early this past season I stumbled across it. I enjoyed the content and spirited posts by the cast of characters that frequent this site. Eventually, I got to the point where I was checking in several times a day to get the latest updates and to see what everyone was buzzing about. The playoff watch parties were a blast as I got to meet several of the cool people that contribute to this site. Hornets247 has definitely created a sense of community amongst Hornets fans and has added to my enjoyment of the team.

Danny V.
Danny V.

Man I feel unspecial compared to that but.. Here goes... I could'nt have cared less about the NBA. Honestly, the NFL was where it was at. The only players I knew were Cp3 and Peja and I never membered the latters name. Some people in my family are Boston fans, so just to stir up controversy... I did something I regret everyday since... I rooted for the Lakers in the series against the Celtics in the finals... I just thought it would be fun to root against them... So I was all ha when they won... But I enjoyed watching the games. I really had alot of fun watching a good basketball game. So I started learning about the game and players but one thing stuck with me. Now that they wernt playing the Celtics... I f***in hated the Lakers. Kobe just pissed me off and Pau was a punk and Ron Artest was a thug and wow I just hated them. So I just started looking for a team. I halfway followed the Magic because of Dwight, I thought he was a pretty cool guy, and halfway the Hornets. Eventually the fact that the Hornets were my home team caught up with me. I fell in love with the players and started intently watching each game getting pissed off whenever the refs screwed us or we blew a lead. I knew not only our starters, but our bench and eventually our coaches, our potential buyers and our ownership situation. Something about rooting for the underdog stuck with me. I still half heartedly root for the Magic just for that... But I love the Hornets. I would love to buy season tickets but unfortunately am not financially stable enough to. (especially since I live 4 hours away and could only make 1 in 15 or so games anyhow!) But luckily my dream came true and I purchased tickets to the Hornets vs. Celtics game at home this season. I loved finally getting to see the arena, all the players warm up and all but.. I could've picked a better game to go to.... I was harrassed in the cheap seats high up where I was by damn Celtic fans who during our run I harrassed but at the end of the game, they were giving me troubles after we lost. But... The experience only made my fanhood stronger. I thought "We must become contenders and show these bandwagon FOOLS that we are a force to be reckoned with!" I have followed the Hornets through pain and heartache as I watched us fall to the Lakers, and through fame as Cp3 graced the cover of Sports Illustrated and we got the spotlight for a while. I know I havn't been a fan as long as most of you but.... I plan on being around just as long as you good fella's and proving that this isn't a passing trend. Long live the NO Hornets. Oh btw, long time viewer, first time poster. Just liked the thought of sharing my story.

Brazilian Hornet
Brazilian Hornet

Well, I'm a Hornets' fan since the season 94-95. I was a kid here in Rio de Janeiro and got a Charlotte Hornets' hat. Very cool and I began following the team. At that time, the idol was Larry Johnson. I followed Glen Rice, Eddie Jones, Jamal Mashburn and other athletes with the Hornets' jersey. When the team moved to New Orleans, I still thought was cool. I always thought New OIeans a cool city. I knew the city in 2010 and liked it even more. Today I am a fan still more passionate. Go Hornets!

Max
Max

Also I didn't mention that Im waiting for the day when I save up a bit of money an finally fly to Nola and see a game. That would be like a dream come true

Max
Max

Well How I became a hornets fan: I'm from And still live in Australia, I grew up (mind you I'm only 20 years old now) playing almost over sport you can think of from soccer to tennis to rugby to even gymnastics till I found basketball when I was in grade 7, without knowing the rules I signed for a team purely out of interest for the game. Though there was 2 things I didn't realize 1: that the game is much harder when your small (I'm only 5'8, so when I started playing at the age of 13 you can only imagine how small I was) the second thing I realized was I signed up for a team that was undeafeated the prior season. In other words the team was good so mix that with my height and I was pretty much a benh warmer my whole first season, which was good as that season I learnt the rules of the game. After playing a few seasons and realizing I was too small to play I gave it up, but now that I wasn't playing I needed something to fill me basketball urges. So I turned to watching it, I knew nothing of the NBA other then just every now and again on sports shows hearing the name "micheal Jordan" and "Kobe bryant" I cheaked my tv guide until a found an NBA game on tv, I watched it and had never seen basketball talent like that (the only basketball I had ever watched was my own team or the Australian basketball league which is pretty much filled with Australians or bad college players who never got drafted) after watching a few NBA games I wanted to go for a team so I had something to cheer and get excited about, but I didn't want to be like most NBA fans that we have in australia and go for the teams that always seemed to be winning i.e the lakers and the celtics. So I purchased a copy of "NBA live" and decided that I was just gonna scroll through all the teams with my eyes closed and whatever team I stopped on was gonna be my favourite. The team I landed one was the hornets, I started to watched them in CP3's sophomore season and from that season on I've been a hornets fan

James Grayson
James Grayson

Very similar to my story, I had a basketball that had the Hornets logo on it as a kid. When I purchased NBA Live, I remembered that logo, selected the Hornets and the rest is history. I also wanted to be different and not support the same, boring, predictable team. This is why I chose the Hornets.

Chris Trew
Chris Trew

42! You forgot the part where you took me to a game and I had to explain some of the rules to you. I also drank a blue drink. When you first told me you were getting season tickets I was shocked. What's weirder is I've now read more of your words that I've ever heard you say out loud. But I'm moving back in a month and now I have season tickets of my own so that will all change. Also I'm putting on a comedy marathon at The Shadowbox this weekend. You around? Anyone around?

42
42

I did forget that part, didn't I . . . I'm getting old . . . It'll be nice to have you guys back. I already looked at the itinerary . . . you go on after the Dance Crisis at 10:01 or something like that . . . Also, everyone . . . Seantonio . . . we're watching game 3 Sunday night. http://www.hornets247.com/news/2011/05/31/deja-vu/#comment-29460

Holy Cow
Holy Cow

42, I'll be working at the Oyster Festival all day Sunday (if you call pouring and drinking beer all day working). But, I'll definitely plan to catch up with you guys at the Doors later on.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

ill be in NOLA sunday so i just might be able to make it. I start class on monday so may not wanna risk being out too late, play it by ear

42
42

Ha. School does come first. I'll put some news out this weekend and will confirm in there, but if the game is at 7, I'll get there a bit early, like 5-6, maybe even hit pj's before. It's the least we can do given that this is likely the last get-together, formal or informal, for a long while. Holy Cow and a few others showed interest, so we should be able to do some damage to the pizza and beverage.

Hornet Seantonio
Hornet Seantonio

lol 42 could animate a story about walking to the bathroom. (not an insult) my story I live in Louisiana, love Louisiana, Hornets came to Louisiana, i Love the Hornets. Plus since we suck so bad its easy as hell to get cheap seats which makes the team easily accessible and easier to fall in love with. I didnt really fall head over heels for the hornets till i went to my first game freshman year of college, but after that i was hooked.