Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sports Teams I Bandwagoned as a Child

     In the sports world, bandwagoning is a mortal sin.  Like butt-fucking a priest on the Sabbath, rooting for a team simply because they're good is something that can get you ostracized in your community.  I've always been the type of person who is inclined to believe that you should root for your local teams.  I don't see how anyone gets all that much gratification from watching the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl from Seattle.  Of course, there are extenuating circumstances, such as moving to another city and still rooting for your original team.  If I met a Patriots fan living in Miami that informed me that he moved as a teenager, I would not feel the need to call him a raging bandwagoning loser.  I think having a "2nd team" to root for besides your primary one is just as bad as well.  Call me a snobby sports fan, but that's just how I feel.  I believe we all go through that time in our lives, mainly while growing up, where we decide to root for other teams.  Call it intrigue or boredom, but it tends to happen.  I am no exception to the rule, because you'll see in this post the most prominent teams I had cheering allegiances to for various reasons growing up.

In the history of my bandwagoning, the Eagles were without a doubt, my most prominent team.  I did it in the most despicable way as well.  I was always a Donovan McNabb fan, he's from Chicago and was entertaining to watch so the intrigue was certainly there.  It sparked out of control in 2004 when they signed All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens to a 7 year $49 million deal.  He was put on the cover of NFL 2K5 (the greatest football game ever made) and my new fandom was born.  It got to be so bad that I would start franchises on NFL 2K5 as the Eagles instead of my beloved Bears.  At one point during the regular season, I remember openly rooting for the Eagles to defeat the Bears.  The Eagles started off 13-1 in the season before Owens got hurt, but I still rooted for them.  This team was insanely entertaining to watch and I got sucked in.  Unfortunately for them, they ended up losing in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots and my interest in them waned.  Eventually Owens was released and while I remained a casual fan of McNabb throughout his career, I have long stopped caring about this team.

I have some cousins who live in the Florida area so growing up, I would get random assortments of Tampa Bay Buccaneers merchandise.  Due to this, I casually rooted for them throughout the early 2000s.  I even had a Buccaneers banner hanging in my room and a sweater.  In 2002, the Bucs made it to the Super Bowl and my bandwagoning was out in full force!  I LOVED the defense, Ronde Barber, John Lynch, Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice, & Warren Sapp were BEASTS and I adored them.  Not to mention, I had this weird infatuation with their fullback, Mike Alstott.  Jon Gruden, for my money, was the best coach in the NFL at the time.  In a blatant case of despicable bandwagoning, my other favorite team that year is the one they beat in the Super Bowl...

Yep, in Super Bowl XXXVII I openly rooted for BOTH teams.  I wish to slap 11 year old me for doing such a disgusting thing.  You want me to give reasons as to why I liked the Raiders?  I don't really have any.  All I remember is I sat there watching the game with a Buccaneers sweater and a Raiders t-shirt on.  Maybe I just liked their uniforms?  I dunno.  Between their awesome combo of Jerry Rice & Tim Brown at WR and the most badass kicker ever Sebastian Janikowski, the Raiders were a sexy team for me to latch on to.

Oh dear God.  A Chicago Bears fan who was rooting for the Minnesota Vikings.  Just what in the hell was I thinking?  Another case of me latching on to players I thought were awesome and ipso facto a bandwagoner was born.  Daunte Culpepper, their QB was on the level of Donovan McNabb for me as a player I thoroughly enjoyed viewing.  Not to mention I thought Randy Moss was the most kick-ass WR in the game and the duo of him and Cris Carter made me enjoy this offense more than any other in the NFL.  I had a Vikings football growing up that I have since grown ashamed of.

As a Chicago Cubs fan, I have plenty of time contemplating other teams to root for that actually win.  I was drawn to the Red Sox because in the early 2000s they were a lot like the Cubs.  A team that was "cursed" and dealt with heartache after heartache.  I felt like their team was one I could identify with, especially in 2003 when both the Cubs and Red Sox dealt with a massive amount of failure.  Nomar Garciaparra was always a favorite player of mine and he was the face of the franchise for years.  The following year, they won the World Series and I loved the team.  They called themselves "idiots" and Johnny Damon, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Bill Mueller, Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Doug Mirabelli, Mark Bellhorn, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon, Kevin Millar, Gabe Kapler, Dave Roberts, Bronson Arroyo, Keith Foulke, Derek Lowe, Curt Schilling, & Time Wakefield made up one of the most entertaining and famous teams of all-time.

Why in the blue hell did I like the Oakland Athletics?  Well, pretty simple case here, when I was a kid my team won our little league championship as the Athletics.  I paid a little bit more attention to them after that and adored Jason Giambi & Eric Chavez while they were on the team.  I especially enjoyed Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, & Dan Haren as well.  Barry Zito was one of my more beloved players in the 2000s.

Who in the hell DIDN'T like the Diamondbacks in the early 2000s?  This expansion team came along in 1998 and by 2001, they had won a World Series.  Luis Gonzalez?  One of my favorite players EVER.  Curt Schilling & Randy Johnson made up the most dominating 1-2 punch I have ever seen in a pitching rotation.  Let's go ahead and add in the fact that I was a Diamondback in little league for 1 year and you got yourselves a  10 year old version of me desperately rooting for them to beat the dreaded Yankees in 2001.

Absolutely despicable.  A Chicago Blackhawks fan who called the Detroit Red Wings his favorite team.  In my defense, in the early 2000s the Blackhawks were an afterthought.  The minor league hockey team here in Chicago, the Wolves, were more popular than them.  Their owner refused to play home games on television, in a ploy to try and make more money by forcing the fans to go see them live if they wanted to watch them, so half their games weren't even shown.  It was impossible to follow this team and instead, I went for the Red Wings.  I remember playing NHL 2001 and always picking the Red Wings as my franchise team.  Chris Chelios is one of my favorite players ever and you can't not respect the hell out of Steve Yzerman.  I don't think there has been another goalie in the NHL I have enjoyed watching more than Dominik Hasek.  Rest assured, while I respect the hell out of this fellow original 6 NHL team, my cheering allegiance towards them has died off completely.

I had a Phoenix Coyotes shirt growing up that I wore constantly.  They were a decent team in the early 2000s  and had guys like Shane Doan, Daniel Briere, Claude Lemieux, and one of my favorite hockey players of all-time, Tony Amonte for me to root for.  Amonte was traded from the Blackhawks to the Coyotes and I followed suit.

Jaromir Jagr & Mario Lemieux were two of my favorite hockey players at the time and I bandwagoned this team hardcore at the turn of the century.  Not to mention I won a floor hockey championship as a Penguin.

In this most blatant case of me liking a team simply because they're good, the Lakers were my team.  They were the golden boys of the early 2000s in the NBA, with Phil Jackson (former Chicago Bulls coach) creating a dynasty with Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O'Neal anchoring the team as the most dominant duo of the new millennium.

Yep, I liked both the Lakers AND Kings.  What the fuck?  The Kings were my most prominent team though, as I couldn't get enough of watching Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie, Hedo Turkoglu, Vlade Divac & Gerald Wallace.  I will forever hold true that the 2001-02 Kings team is one of the greatest teams to have never won a championship, on the same level as the late 90s Utah Jazz.  I STILL have a Sacramento Kings Mike Bibby shirt that I occasionally wear.  Retro as fuck.

This was a team, a lot like the Kings, where I constantly rooted and ached for them to finally break through that glass ceiling and win the championship.  They never managed to do so.  Regardless, that run & gun offense of Steve Nash, Shawn Marion, & Amar'e Stoudemire remains as the most exciting trio of the new millennium.  The show Nash & Stoudemire put on in the 2005 NBA Dunk Contest was insanely entertaining.  Between my admiration to the Coyotes and the Suns, maybe I should have moved to Phoenix as a kid?

In the same vein as the Phoenix Suns, I simply liked the Nets in the mid 2000s because they were so damn entertaining.  Once Vince Carter got traded to this team, I was all set.  The trio of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, & Richard Jefferson was phenomenal to watch and I was completely sucked in.  Vince Carter was one of my favorite players growing up because of his unnaturally amazing throw downs.

NCAA Basketball:
Let me go ahead and say this, I don't like college sports.  I think their games are boring and don't understand why someone would prefer it over major leagues with better talent.  It's a crooked system, speaking of the NCAA, and besides the March Madness, I couldn't care less about any college sports athletics.  That being said, there have been a few RARE cases of bandwagoning on my part.  I really liked the Blue Devils, A LOT in grammar school, I think mainly because my 7th & 8th grade math teacher was a North Carolina Tar Heels fan and I just wanted to piss him off.  Regardless, I dressed up as a Blue Devil for Halloween in 7th grade and J.J. Redick was one of my favorite players to root for.  Also, I will forever believe Mike Krzyzewski is on the level of Phil Jackson as the greatest coach I have ever seen.

Yep, I bandwagoned a team in my very own state.  Like I stated before, I do not care about college sports but in 2004-05 the Illinois basketball team became a flash in the pan and had a magical run to the NCAA Championship where they ultimately lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels.  They had a 3 headed monster had the guard position with Deron Williams, Luther Head, & Dee Brown.  They were insanely fun to watch and I got sucked in once they beat number 1 ranked Wake Forest in December.  I have since gone back to not giving a shit about college sports.

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