Remembering my days as a young basketball fan. :-)

Remembering my days as a young basketball fan. :-)

Postby Zeeboe on Fri Jan 23, 2009 6:15 pm

I'm not your stereotypical man at all. I've never been into sports. I was always more into artsy things like movies or music, but there was one time in my life that I was a huge sports fan, and there was only one sport I absolutely loved....(no, not WWF wrestling....as much as I loved it, that was a stagged sport, and I considered that to be more like a form of theater then a sport, and it appealed to my artsy side.) No, the one sport I always loved.....was basketball. Not football, or baseball, or hockey.....just basketball. (Although I did become a football fan briefly, and that was in the mid-90's when the Cowboys was American's team. Plus, growing up in a small Texas town that loved the Cowboys, and the local high school football team, I was bound to catch the Cowboy fever, but my time as a football fan lasted very shortly, and my liking for football was nothing compared to my love for basketball.)

When I was a boy, I loved, loved, loved basketball. I loved to play basketball too. (Even though I never played on a team) I loved to watch basketball, as well as study the history. To this day, I still remember a lot of trivia and history on basketball.

(Who won the 1977 NBA Finals? The Blazers over the Sixers in six games. Sixers won the first two games, but the Blazer would go on to win the following four. I realize a lot of basketball buffs know that, but I've always been able to impress the average person with my knowledge of the history of the NBA, and pretty much knowing every team that won the title each year, and what team they beat to get it, and how many games it took.)

.....And my favorite player.....was a retired player. LOL. I was a huge Magic Johnson fan, and it's funny because I barely remember seeing him play many live games. Most of the games I saw him in were highlight clips from older games.

I actually remember how I became a fan of his too. I think I was four or five-years old, and I saw a clip of Magic Johnson, sitting on the bench, giving that famous Magic smile to the camera, and pointing. For some odd reason, that was enough for me to become a huge fan of his for life. It was not his playing skill, but his personality, and charisma that made me a fan. Just a short clip of him being charismatic made me a fan of his for the rest of my life. How about that?

I think that is also what made me become an NBA basketball fan. As a kid, myself and the neighborhood kids always played basketball at our house, so that might be part of the reason why I became a fan too, but we played football, and baseball sometimes too....but not nearly as often as we played basketball, and sometimes I'd catch bits and pieces of various sports games my Dad watched on TV, but none of the players on any other sport ever grabbed my attention like Magic Johnson did, and it was he that not only made me a fan of himself, but a fan of the sport he played.

.....I did not like Michael Jordan. LOL. Infact, I hated his guts, and I hated how everyone else in the small town I grew up in, and the school I went to, and even my own sister loved Michael Jordan. (Of course, I think my sister only liked Jordan to get under my skin. lol.) It seemed like the whole world was involve with his Airness. I also used to dislike how everyone just assumed I was a Michael Jordan fan because I liked basketball. LOL. (I have not changed at all. Even when I was younger, I just had to be different. I had to be a rebel. Go it against the crowd. I never meant to either. It just happened naturally.)

MJ and his fans were just a little too cocky for me. So it was always a treat when the Bulls lost during the regular season. I wanted so badly for someone to beat the Bulls in the finals and humble them and their fans. It's funny because even now whenever I watch old clips of Jordan playing, I can still remember the hate. LOL. I still highly enjoy watching clips like this too...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=WoGmMx8Ejrw

I think since Michael Jordan had that whole slam dunking thing going for him, little kids were impressed by that. Now no one could slam the ball like Jordan, but to me being able to "fly" didn't make him a good basketball player. It just made him a good showmen.

I was not like most of the kids though. I was picky, and I was a hard-core basketball fan who knew his NBA history. At only ten years old, I saw the greatness in clips of Jerry West, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar, Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Julius Erving, Walt Frazier, John Havlicek, Elgin Baylor, etc, etc, etc, etc (I could go on all day with names).....but I saw those players when they were in their prime in old basketball clips and to me, being able to "fly in the air" and slam dunk was not enough to win my support.

I didn't care how fancy Jordan slammed the ball. A player had to do a lot more then that on the court to impress me, and Magic did just that. Magic did more then slam dunk. He could shoot the three pointers, pass the ball to his teammate's without even looking, he wasn't selfish or a ball hog like I thought Jordan was, and Magic could make his teammates into better players and bring them to the same level he was, whereas it took Jordan seven years before he finally realized he couldn't win games by himself, and he needed to work on being a better leader.

Now I think in due time, Jordan did get to that level Magic, Larry Bird and all those other guys I named was at....but at that time when Jordan was ultra-popular with the kids on the school yard....no way was I gonna be a Jordan fan. I thought they were all just sheep who only liked Jordan because of his slam dunking skill, but not his actual basketball skill, and they all seemed to like him because TV told kids to like him by putting Jordan's face everywhere.

Helck a lot of those kids didn't even know much about the game of basketball, or the NBA, and didn't realize that the NBA actually had quite a few talented players that was just as good as Jordan was, but the NBA needed a poster boy and since Magic retired, they picked Michael to take over, and to me....Michael wasn't good enough to fill Magic's shoes, and I hated him for years for dare trying to be Magic's replacement.

So many times people tried to convert me to being a Michael Jordan fan. Never happened though. I was so happy when he retired. LOL. But when he came back, I was happy and cheering him on, and that was the only time I ever could call myself a fan of his, and the only reason why I was happy that he was back was because I loved to hate him, and if he wasn't playing, I had no one to hate. I wanted so badly for some team to beat him in the playoff's and if he wasn't playing, how could that happen? So I needed him to come back.

Anyhow, the only love Magic Johnson got where I was growing up was from me. Kids from my day didn't see Magic play when he was in his prime, so I guess to them he was a has-been with AIDS, and was nothing compared to Michael Jordan.

NOTE: I realize Magic never had AIDS, but for some reason.....everyone where I grew up thought that. Infact, just about every team I said I was a Magic Johnson fan, the response was always.....

"Magic's got AIDS!"

What that is suppose to mean, I do not know.....to this day, the average person knows so little about Magic. One guy I knew thought he was dead, and even my cousin not too long ago talked about Magic having AIDS. My whole life I've had to tell people he never did have AIDS, and was HIV, and was alive and well. Many people are not even aware of what it means to have the HIV virus. I always have to tell them it doesn't mean you're dying or sick. Ol' Magic has had the HIV virus since 1991, and he's as healthy as ever.

It was hard being a Magic Johnson fan. It seemed like everyone....even members of my own family disliked him, but me. Even now I can't go on about how much I love Magic without someone just having to bring up Michael Jordan.

I was one of the few kids who actually watched hightlight clips of Magic, saw the older games, and saw what an amazing player Magic was, and not only was he a great player, but he had something Michael Jordan and many players then or even now did not have........and that is tons of charsima, and this amazing positive attitude that I admired so much. Magic was always all smiles, and seemed like he enjoyed every second of playing basketball. He was also very humble, and wasn't cocky like how I thought Michael Jordan was.

Magic was not a "gangsta thug" like most players are today either. He was a lot better role model then the guys the NBA has now. Granted, he made some mistakes too, which is what lead him to getting the HIV virus, but it was one mistake. It's not like he ever attacked a fan, or some innocent person out on the street. He never had a drug or alcohol person or a gambling problem like Michael Jordan had.....Magic was a straight-up class-act all the way. Even when he got the HIV virus, he didn't become angry and bitter. He was still the same lovable, smiling Magic Johnson that had won five NBA championships.

The problem was, I was born ten years too late. If I was a little bit older in the 80's I think poor Magic would have gotten more love from the people in my small town. Infact, I'm sure he did, but all those kids who grew up watching him were older when I was a kid. However, since it was a small hick town, I'm sure it was Larry Bird who got more love back then. I recall my Dad saying he was more of a Bird fan back in the 80's.

Even after Magic retired in 1991 I was still a fan of the L.A. Lakers, and cheered them on when they were at their worst. It didn't matter to me if they lost or not. I stuck by them.

It was hard enough being a white boy in a small racist Texas town loving a sport that was mostly played by black men, but not even being accepted by those that did love basketball was even harder sometimes. As a kid, it wasn't easy cheering on one of the worst team's in the league, being a fan of a retired basketball player, and hating the most popular player in the league. LOL. However, I don't regret for one second being a Magic Johnson or L.A. Lakers fan and I'm very proud that I stood by Magic and the Lakers and being a fan of theirs when everyone else was ready to move on and forget Magic and the Lakers.

While me being a fan of Magic and the Lakers, and not following along with the crowd and loving Michael Jordan and the winning teams may have been the first sign of me being being different, it was also the first sign that I was a loyal person during good and bad times.

Since I was a Texan, I also loved the Houston Rockets, which was my second favorite team next to the Lakers, and lucky for me, the Rockets won two titles in the mid-90's, but the only reason why I liked the Rockets was because we lived in the same state. The magic (no pun intended) was not there for the Rockets. I still liked them however, but if they ever played the Lakers, I was cheering for L.A.

A lot in my life changed in 1996. A LOT. I was 13 at the time, and so many things changed. From me leaving that small town to moving to Austin, all the way to me not loving basketbal as much. It was at the end of 1996 season that my years of being a loyal a basketball fan ended. It's interesting because that was also the year Magic Johnson had made a brief comeback to basketball so he could go out on his terms, but he finally retired from the game of basketball for good that year...that was also the year the Houston Rockets were dethroned, and were to never win an NBA title during my youth.

It was almost as if I had spent 1992-1996 waiting for Magic to finally come back, and once he left for good.....it was as if I felt there was no reason to keep watching because I'd never find a player I loved as much as Magic, and I never did.

All the other players besides Magic that I grew up with, and liked were retiring, and I just couldn't get into cheering on the new guys. Most of them were around my age, and while I still can enjoy the game today, when Ii was younger, the players were like super heroes to me because I was a boy, and I viewed them as men. It's different how I view the players now. As years went by, I still sometimes watched basketball during the playoff's, but I can barely remember what went on in the games whereas I can remember everything about the games when I was a younger.

Even to this day, I can still remember the love I had for it, and like I wrote, I still enjoy watching from time to time, but I doubt I'll ever be as into it as I used to be. I still like to watch old clips from games, as well as older games but that's about it. In a way, I've become like an older retired player because I still will sometimes randomly watch a new game, and I love talking about the old days with other fans from that time, and it's still fun to remember and talk about the experiences we all had.

I recently watched the 92' NBA All-Star game on you tube, and in my head, I was able to name every player during the line-up, but if I were to asked to name all the players of the 2009 All-Star game, I'd be lucky if I got more then two or three right, and the ones I would get right would only be the older players that played in my day, and are still playing now like Shaq.

Basketball is a great sport, and the memories I have of it will be with me always, and Magic Johnson will always be the greatest basketball player on earth in my eyes. The magic will never die, and will live forever. :-)
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Zeeboe

 
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