Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Bucks, Dirk Nowitzki and me: The past and future

It has been a few years since I made the fateful decision to obsessively follow the NBA in all its wonderful glory; I don’t follow any sport closer and can usually find an excuse to watch any game that happens to be playing on my League Pass Broadband account. To me, there is always a player or team worth watching (Memphis at Utah? Wes Matthews plays for Utah, I’m in!). The problem is I still feel like a lost soul in the NBA world, a man without a home, here’s why.

My favorite player is Dirk Nowitzki; therefore the Dallas Mavericks are the team I have hitched my wagon to. Anyone with a short-term NBA memory knows this means I should have probably stopped following this league a long time ago. It’s not that I don’t root for them anymore, I still want Nowitzki to win a championship more than anything; it’s just that I know if he ever left Dallas (and he is a free agent after this season) or when he eventually retires, I will have no attachment towards the Mavericks whatsoever. It never feels right to cheer for a team from Dallas anyway. Hence, I feel as though I do not have a solid foundation of fandom to lean against, and seeing that this is my favorite sport in the universe, it’s not an ideal situation.

Which leads me to the Milwaukee Bucks. I have always considered them my “second favorite team,” for what that’s worth (nothing), but I never really took them too seriously. I followed them last year, but mainly because basketball was on and as I said, I will basically watch any game that’s put in front of me. They seemed different last year though; different in the sense that the Bucks might actually have been slowly, quietly, improving. Based on recent seasons before last year, this was weird.

So then the offseason happened; general manager John Hammond made sound roster moves, sliced team salary, and drafted Brandon Jennings, who looks like he should have been a top three pick in the NBA Draft instead of tenth. I was ready for the season to start with the hope that maybe the Bucks would be, at the least, an interesting watch.

Well, I’m not sure of the exact moment -they’ve already been playing for about a month- but at some point I started to genuinely root for the Milwaukee Bucks. I think I just woke up one day with a message from my brain saying, “Hey, the Bucks play tonight,” and realized that I have never had that stream of thought run through my head before. I love planning my nights around shows or sporting events, and the Bucks have reached that relatively lame stratosphere in my life. So I guess I’m hooked.

Obviously the early success has crowded the Bucks bandwagon (or at least as crowded as I’ve ever seen it) with more people than me, but I’ll be around for the long haul. I needed another Wisconsin team to cheer for other than the Packers, and this just feels right. Plus, I don’t think the Bucks are going to be too choosy when it comes to fan support, good start or not.
It does feel strange to be starting a new sports relationship at this point in my life. I feel as though all of my allegiances should have been determined by now. But I’m ready to accept the Bucks into my sports life; I’m ready for the work-in-progress that they are and I’m ready for the disappointments that will come along the way. The good thing is that with an 82-game schedule, there will always be another game to look forward to. That’s what makes being a pro basketball fan, or just a fan in general, fun. So, it’s the Bucks and whoever Dirk Nowitzki plays for. I feel better already.

Of course, if the Bucks wouldn’t have traded Dirk right after they drafted him back in 1998, I would’ve never had this problem in the first place. Oh, what could have been.

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