I am a huge Denver Nuggets Fan. Ffffan. Dictionary.com tells me a fan is an implement to move air, so I'm missing the boat. Help me, Wiki:
A fan, or fanatic, sometimes also called aficionado or supporter, is a person who is enthusiastically devoted to something or somebody, such as a band, a sports team, a genre, a book, a movie or an entertainer.
OK... derived from fanatic. Maybe back to the dictionary. Dictionary.com.
1. a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.
In the early 90's, I was also a Nuggets fan. Which is why I talked some buddies of mine I was singing with into doing the National Anthem for about ten home games in the ‘90-‘91 and ‘91-‘92 seasons. One of those friends would stick around with me past the first quarter as we were both fans. Fans of a Denver Nuggets squad that finished the season with a 20-62 record.
There were things to love about those teams, both good and bad: The good: in '90-'91 Michael Adams, Orlando Woolridge, a rookie Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, and Reggie Williams were scoring machines. Denver shored up the middle in '91-'92 by adding workhorse and journeyman center Scott Hastings and a rookie Dikembe Mutombo, who would put up 1,177 points, 870 rebounds, and 210 blocks in his first year. Those raw pieces and a misfit cast were doing their best to hold up the bad - Paul Westhead's pro version of the run-and-gun offense he'd run at Loyola Marymount. The scoring was fun to watch, but frustratingly hollow, as we only won 24 games in Westhead's second (and final) campaign. Turns out that Ignoring the defensive end of the floor is a mistake in professional basketball, where the talent gap between your team and others may not be as wide as Westhead enjoyed at LMU.
My buddy and I were lucky enough to witness the biggest win of the '90-'91 season, an 18-point stomping of the Antoine Carr-and-who? Sacramento Kings. It would be the penultimate win of the year with 12 games left to go in a lost and weird Nuggets campaign.
We let loose in our mostly-empty section with tirades at the refs, loud questions for Westhead, and several pent-up up games worth of jackassery. By the fourth quarter, we were the only ones in our section. No one had left, they just moved somewhere away from us.
We certainly weren't alone in such behavior, at that game or any other sporting contest I've attended. I worked in the stands at Broncos games for a couple of seasons and regularly witnessed the far ends of the behavioral spectrum. We human beings are passionate about the things we love, and that manifests itself in a thousand different ways. There are moments it makes us brutal, as it did here in my current town of residence a few years back at a Dodgers game, or as seen on a near-weekly basis by simply watching one of any number of sports outlets. There are also moments being a fan makes us wonderfully human and wonderful humans.
Fandom gives us a basis of connection. A familiarity. I have friends at work dropping by to ask about my nerves approaching the Super Bowl, or who pay enough attention to NBA league scores to say something like, "you guys thumped on Toronto the other night." It opens doors to other conversation, especially for those of us who tend to introversion. I text two of my dearest friends daily with excitements and concerns about our favorite teams. Being a fan can actually be a lot like the literal definition of the noun of fanatic above. Love and hate. Enthusiasm and zeal. You probably feel most of those emotions about the Denver Nuggets, some of you on a per-quarter basis. Being a fan of the Nuggets is probably the reason most of you are here. That or a Google search gone wrong on strange men with large noses.
On the broader spectrum, being a fan ends up working a lot like many other euphoria-inducing experiences, leaving the extremes of our behaviors closer to the surface for all to see. One of many truth juices, as it turns out. It makes you grateful a place like this exists where they tend to keep what conversation exists civil and primarily friendly. Where intelligent and diverse opinions are written and commented on without anyone biting each other's face off.
When your team endures lean times, you see the fan base numbers dwindle to the hardcore. The one-of-the-few-left-in-the-building fans. Fans like the Nuggets faithful who braved the horrendous weather on Monday night. Those hardy few saw an impressive victory against the Raptors. But to do that is to be someone unique. Someone willing to endure the lovable losers and nearly-achievers that come along the way, in addition to the occasional blizzard on the high desert. If you've been so lucky as to be the fan of a team that won a championship, you know it is a rare and wonderful feeling indeed. That feeling is even sweeter if you've endured lean times along the way. Many professional teams, including the Nuggets, have never reached that pinnacle, and still maintain a fan base who is watching for signs of the next time they have a shot.
So be good to your fellow fan. If you find out that guy in Accounting is a Cubs fan, cut him a little slack. If your buddy is a homer from Cleveland, just know he's hurting inside, and buy him some nachos to douse the PTSD pain. At the end of the day, we're all in this together, Stiffs and non-Stiffs alike.
As mutual fans, or even opposing fans, do we have any sort of responsibility to one another? If so, it seems sure none of us are perfectly certain what it is.