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NBA Fan Voice: Why I'll Come Back

As Ziller mentioned, today kicks off an effort across SBNation for fans to be heard. We want to encourage everyone to share your thoughts, frustrations, anger, hope, or nausea with regards to the NBA and/or the lockout as a FanPost.  Be sure to include "NBA Fan Voice" in the title.  And if you share on Twitter, be sure to use the #NBAFanVoice hashtag. 

What follows is my submission.

This lockout has tested my resolve.  After suffering through a season of uncertainty with the state of the Kings organization, I could have used a nice, relaxing offseason.  Many NBA fans have detested the lockout for making them read articles on legalese and the state of negotiations.  For Kings fans, it's like the season never ended.

At the end of the season, we thought we were losing our team.  Forget about losing a season, we were anticipating losing all of our seasons.  A last minute unicorn from KJ gave us a fighting chance.  The Kings are not gone, and the fight to keep the team continues. 

As we faced the threat of losing our team, I gave a lot of thought as to why we care about our teams.  A common refrain is that we root for laundry.  After all, players come and go.  The guy you rooted for one season might leave and join the Lakers.  Or the guy you viewed as the core of the team might get traded to Houston.  Clearly it was the team, more than the players.

Last season we had numerous discussions about whether or not you'd root for the team if they relocated.  Would we root for new laundry?  The jerseys would no longer say Sacramento, and they probably wouldn't say Kings.  It's painful to think about, but it remains a very real possibility.  Faced with this possibility, I asked myself if I would continue to support the team.  I wouldn't want to root for another team, I felt too attached to the players on the roster.  I'd still want to root for Tyreke and DeMarcus and Marcus and Jimmer and Jason and Donté.

Do we then simply root for our favorite players?  In the age of League Pass and fantasy sports, is it simply the players we root for?  After all, I still am a fan of Kevin Martin, I still hope good things happen for Omri Casspi, and was thrilled that Peja Stojakovic won a ring.  Am I a fan of the players more than the team?

Not quite.  I root for those players because at one time they were our players.  I still feel attached to them, but that attachment is nostalgic.  I don't follow Kevin Martin game in and game out, shouting to anyone who will listen how underrated he is as a scorer.  I don't have that same passion for him, even though I still like the guy.  I felt the same thing when I considered our current roster playing in a different city.  They would still be our guys, but they wouldn't really be our guys anymore.

To an extent, we're rooting for laundry.  To an extent we're rooting for the players we like.  But in the end we aren't rooting for one or the other.  It all comes down to a team.  The laundry and the players combine to be more than the sum of their parts.  How?  Community.

A team is nothing without the fans and the city that support it.  For me, I can't imagine my fandom without the community of Kings fans that I get to interact with every day here at Sactown Royalty.  That sense of community expanded even further when it seemed the team was lost.  The city banded together.  We all were a team, working to save our team. 

And we came together because of an NBA team.  Because we love our team.  Because something as silly and insignificant as the NBA can mean so much to us and became significant.

The lockout has tested me.  I'm angry that the players and the owners (both sides are to blame) are throwing that away.  I'm angry that they're destroying the momentum the league had after last season.  I'm angry that they are depriving us all of something that so obviously means so much to us, the fans.

The lockout made me consider what I could do to demonstrate my dissatisfaction.  I considered cancelling my League Pass subscription.  Money is tight, and it is the most direct way to represent dissatisfaction as a customer.  But I'm not going to.  I'm going to come back. 

I live in Colorado, and League Pass is the only way for me to see the Kings night in and night out.  And I love this team too much.  I can't imagine missing games.  Last season was my first season of subscribing to League Pass.  The entire cost of the package was worth it to be able to watch that last game in Arco, to see the fans refusing to leave, to see Grant and Jerry completely lose it. 

The product on the floor will bring back the fans.  If you loved the NBA before the lockout, no lockout could keep you away permanently.  The owners know this, the players know this, and they take it for granted.  That's why the fans are getting screwed. 

But they're right.  They can take it for granted.  When the lockout ends and we stop talking about good faith and BRI and revenue streams, we'll still have our team.  We have the laundry, we'll have our guys, and we'll have our community.

And that's why I'll come back.