Becoming a Hornets Fan

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.


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.


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?


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