“Why do I care?” is the single most hazardous question that a diehard NBA fan can ask himself.
“Junkies” like me, and those I surmise to be a large percentage of this blog’s readership, devote considerable time and energy to a game played by rich men we’ve never met.
Lending more than surface-level thought to the reasons for such devotion is to risk spoiling the fun for ourselves. After all, there is more “important” news in any edition of the New York Times and there are [hopefully] more pressing personal matters in any of our lives, whether they be professional, romantic, familial, or otherwise. (One of the all-time great pieces from The Onion mocks the professional sports fan accordingly.)
Zach Lowe had an interesting take related to this on a recent Bill Simmons B.S. Report podcast. Lowe, an expert NBA analyst who writes for Grantland, grew up a fan of the Boston Celtics, just like Simmons. The Sports Guy asked Lowe how he felt about Ray Allen in a Heat uniform; a potentially sensitive subject for any diehard Celtics fan. Lowe’s reply was fascinating. He said:
I admire your quality to maintain very strong fandom, but the longer I do this, honestly, the more my fandom sort of fades. I still sort of have that in me, and my dad roots for the Celtics and that’s cool. But even last year when they lost Game 7 I remember being like, ‘I actually don’t care all that much,’ and watching Ray [Allen] in Miami is a more analytical experience…
And, honestly, part of the reason for that…[is] just how crazy Boston fans are…Now every fan base is like that…
The “this” in Lowe’s first sentence presumably means analyzing and writing about professional basketball for a living. The statement is fascinating not because he draws a line between “fandom” and “analysis,” but because he paints a huge gulf between the two concepts; one that he outwardly admires the ability of Simmons to cross in his coverage of the NBA.