As someone who is loyal to a fault, people who hop team allegiances never cease to make my brain hemorrhage. I don’t know how the LeBron James cult does it. “He’s my favorite player” is what a child says when they first discover what sports are. Yeah, I loved Penny Hardaway, too, but when I moved to a city with an NBA franchise at age 11, I picked the Trail Blazers because I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do.
You choose a team in your formative years — by proximity or otherwise — and stick with them. I don’t know why I’m sports monogamous. (Being raised Catholic might have something to do with it.) Maybe I should try something new, hop on NBA Ashley Madison and see what it’s like to cheat on Damian Lillard. NBA Twitter is one big, messy orgy anyway. Let me derobe and jump in.
*Five minutes later.*
Nope. Noooooope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. That is not for me. Let me go back over here to my perfectly sufficient missionary with a few nice finishing moves and live my life. I am not trying to do whatever Kyrie Irvings fans are doing, I’m not submissive enough for the LeBron hive, people kept handing me flyers for a discounted romp with Russell Westbrook, and Golden State was just a crunchy nudist colony.
That’s enough experimentation for… ever. Since I dipped my toe in the bandwagon waters, I’ll be scrubbing it forever, but I also was able to make observations for strictly research purposes. These are the results (please be negative, please be negative, please be negative) from my search for the NBA’s top 10 most bandwagon fan bases midway through the season.
But before I get to the top 10, I wanted to shout out honorable mentions Phoenix and Philly. They narrowly missed this designation because people are off The Process, and Chris Paul has to win a title for fans to give him his flowers.
Alright, from borderline masochism to the most hedonistic, let’s get started.
SLIDE #110. New York Knicks
People showed up expecting a party, and are left with R.J. Barrett trying to cheer up fans not sobbing over Julius Randle’s mental breakdown. The bright lights aren’t for everyone, and the lighting at MSG went from pre-movie dim to a gigantic, glaring, flaw-exposing spotlight compared to last season.
The Randle who averaged 24-10-6 in 2020-21 deserved a $117 million, four-year extension, but this one who is only getting 18 points and shooting the worst percentage of his career (41 percent from the field) is why the Knicks bandwagon is running on fumes. Trading for Cam Reddish helped extend the trip, but if you’re not going to let him put gas in the tank, this season is going to quickly sputter out.
Here’s my coworker Carron Phillips a week ago on the Reddish-Knicks situation with an assist from Deadspin’s Jesse Spector:
“As my colleague and Knicks fan Jesse Spector said, ‘The Knicks need to figure out what the hell they’re doing in a lot of ways, because it’s not tanking, but it’s also not contending.’
That last sentence pretty much sums up what the Knicks have been for the last decade, as an overhyped franchise that hasn’t won a title in almost 50 years. And if the Knicks want to build off the momentum from last season that ended in an embarrassing first-round exit to Cam Reddish’s old team, they should start by figuring out what to do with Reddish and determine if Tom Thibodeau is the coach they believe can rectify all the head-scratching situations he’s put them in.”