Friday, January 7, 2011

Who Are You Cheering For?

When I watch tennis, I usually cheer for the higher ranked player. I think once you get to the top, it's hard to stay there. Everyone is gunning for you and they are often playing the game of their life. One bad day and the top pros can find themselves on the losing end.

But when it comes to basketball, that rule doesn't apply. Because I am loyal. Loyal to my Los Angeles Clippers.

I lived in Los Angeles for 18 years and during most of that time, I had both Lakers and Clippers season tickets. The difference was--my Laker tickets were in the 25th row and my Clipper tickets were in the sixth row--or better.

The Clippers play the same teams the Lakers play, and I had the best seats. A real basketball enthusiast (anyone surprised--TWO sets of season tickets?), I enjoyed being closer to the action despite it being the Clippers instead of the Lakers. When I decided, for both time and financial reasons, that one of the sets of season tickets had to go, it was the Clippers tickets that I kept.

So no matter who the Clippers play, I cheer for the Clippers. When I was both a Clippers and Lakers fan, I would always cheer for the Clippers when they played for the Lakers. Once the play-offs started, it was all Lakers for my cheering (primarily because the Clippers in the playoffs is a rare event). During one Clippers/Lakers near the end of a season, when a Laker win was important for home court advantage during the playoffs, I still cheered for the Clippers, much to my date's chagrin. He thought I should be more cognizant of the long term impact of that game.

There's no other team as consistently bad as the Clippers that I cheer for. I hated it when Phoenix didn't embrace the Cardinals--until they started racking up some wins two years ago. I hated it even more that I was one of the fair weather fans!

As much as I like, and I hope, for an underdog like the Clippers (which Sports Illustrated dubbed the worst franchise in pro sports), they have been replaced in my heart. There's nothing like knowing a player personally and cheering him (or her) on. Since I personally met Channing Frye and got to know what a terrific person he is, I am for whatever team he plays for. Fortunately, he was picked up by the Phoenix Suns last year so I was able to cheer for the home state team (by then I was living in Arizona). Until Channing joined the team, I was for the Suns--unless they were playing the Clippers, Lakers--or the team Channing played for (Knicks or Blazers).

Now,only when the Clippers play the Suns do I root against the Clips. Blake Griffin is a bright spot and a leading candidate already for Rookie of the Year.
Go Blake Griffin! Go Clippers! Go underdog!

But most of all--Go Suns! Go Channing!