The way the Lakers have played this season, and the way the fans have reacted, has had me thinking about 'passion'… and the differing levels of fandom.
Something that I find interesting, is the fandom expressed by College fans as compared to their NBA counterparts. The NBA fan (in general) doesn't define themselves by being a fan of their team, that's precisely what many college fans do. Additionally, being a complete and utter fanatic is a quality admired in the college ranks, yet in the NBA you'd be considered as going perhaps a little overboard.
For example, these guys:
As Duke fans, their passion and and the lengths they will go to, to express their fandom is something to be admired, whereas if the same guys were say… Charlotte fans – they'd be considered a bit nutty. A bit extreme. I mean, what are the odds in basketball that you'd find fans like this in the NBA? Well… whilst they do exist – they're on the fringe.
With regards to my own LA Lakers, many fans tend to be a) front-runners… and b) of the "Chicken Little" variety. Lakerfans tend to express dissatisfaction with the slightest straying outside of expectations. And expectations for a Lakers team generally include a title in them. That doesn't look like happening, then "The Sky Is Falling".
Thus the sunny skies have been ominously heavy for Lakerfans, to the point where many Lakerfans aren't even talking basketball now. 2 games below .500, and frequent struggles have meant that for a lot of fans, the only time they're talking basketball now is to complain about what's occuring with the team… if at all.
Me? Well, whilst a 12-14 record is not exactly what I envisaged when LA signed on Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the team's had very little opportunity to gel as a unit under Mike D'Antoni. Agreed, they *should* be playing better, and there have been few bright spots beyond the youth and vigor of Kobe Bryant's play… but I still believe the team's going to be one helluva competitor come the pointy end of the season.
Overly optimistic? Delusional? Perhaps… but I'm just refusing to buy into the negativity.