Sports Allegiances

by Juan Thomas
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“Listen, I am taking my talents back to Cleveland. No shame in my love for the greatest player of all-time” – Barone Sibley

On the About Me page of this blog, sandwiched in between my love for the arts and my taste for experiencing new things, you’ll find that I “enjoy sports of all kind”. Anybody that knows me knows that I’m something of a sports enthusiast. Some of my closest friends and associates refer to me as “the human statistic” because of the obscure numbers I pull out of the atmosphere when it comes to sports. But though I’m an avid fan of sports—and competition, at large—I’m not a casual sports fan by any means. I’m pretty extreme when it comes to the teams I root for. I’m unlikely to switch squads like Barone did.

 

SPORT: MLB

TEAM (SINCE): Los Angeles Dodgers (1988)

HOW ALLEGIANCE BEGAN: My allegiance to the Dodgers started in October 1988, just over a week before my 4th birthday. My mother was watching Game 1 of the 1988 World Series and I was playing in the room. According to my mom, when Kirk Gibson hit the most-famous walk-off homer in World Series history, I ran up to the television and started touching it. That’s when she realized that I wasn’t going to join her in becoming a Yankees fan.

BEST MOMENT: My best moment as a fan of the Dodgers, to this point, had to be when the team acquired Manny Ramirez at the trade deadline in 2008. We were 54-54 at the time, 2 GB of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had a 6-3 record—including a series sweep—against us to that point in the season. We got Manny and he paid immediate dividends. He smoked a homer to center in his 2nd game and the legend of Mannywood was born. We ended up beating the Diamondbacks 7 times out of the 9 remaining games, winning the division by 2 games. Manny was hot those last 2 months of the season. He hit .396 and slugged .743 with 74 hits, 17 homers, 14 doubles, and 53 RBI in just 53 games. He also hit .520 in the postseason with 4 homers and 10 RBI to go along with an amazing 11 walks…his OBP was ridiculous. He was so good that he placed 4th in the NL MVP voting despite playing less than half a season in the league. The Manny acquisition fueled the Dodger playoff run in 2008 and woke the franchise up from the dead. We’ve been to the NLCS 3 times in the last 7 years after having no appearances in the 20 years prior.

WORST MOMENT: My worst moment as a fan of the Dodgers is every time we lose to the hated San Francisco Giants. I’m still upset over that September series against them in September 1997 and that damn Brian Johnson homer. Or Jon Miller and the “Buster Posey ends it” moments. I just hate losing to those guys.

 

SPORT: NBA

TEAM (SINCE): Seattle SuperSonics (1992-2008)

HOW ALLEGIANCE BEGAN: My allegiance with the Seattle SuperSonics started with this girl I had a crush on in 2nd grade. She was from Tacoma, Washington and she always wore a SuperSonics jacket in class. To get close to her, I became a SuperSonics fan. It turned out the team was actually pretty good.

BEST MOMENT: The best moment I experienced as a SuperSonics fan was Game 7 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals against the Utah Jazz. Shawn Kemp played fantastic. He went for 26 points, 14 rebounds on an efficient 8-12 FGs and 10-11 FTs. We won the game 90-86, advancing to the Finals against the Bulls.

WORST MOMENT: Losing the franchise to Oklahoma City. Howard Schultz sold the team to Clay Bennett, who took it and ran straight to Oklahoma City. I’ll always hate Starbucks because of that.

ALLEGIANCE NOTE: With the Sonics gone for about 7 years now, I root for the Toronto Raptors. The hope, however, is that the NBA will expand and the next team will be the new SuperSonics. Personally, I think that’s a bad idea. We’ll end up like the new Cleveland Browns…a f’n toilet bowl team. I think that a Seattle-area billionaire—like Chris Hansen—should buy the Atlanta Hawks and move them to Seattle. It’s not like the City of Atlanta would miss them.

 

SPORT: NHL

TEAM (SINCE): Vancouver Canucks (1997)

HOW ALLEGIANCE BEGAN: It all started when I saw the Canucks play the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim during an ESPN broadcast. I was intrigued by the team’s logo, which looked like a waffle iron with word “Canucks” in it.

BEST MOMENT: My best moment as a fan of the Canucks was Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Regulation was running out in a scoreless game and Raffi Torres scored the game winner with 19 seconds to go. I remember letting out a scream so loud at the occurrence that my next door neighbor came over to ask if everything was OK.

WORST MOMENT: The absolute worth moment I’ve experienced as a Canucks fan is losing the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in 7 games…with the deciding game on home ice. It was a disappointing end to what was a fantastic season…one in which they went 54-19-9, cruising to the President’s Cup with 117 points.

 

SPORT: NCAA Football

TEAM (SINCE): Ohio State Buckeyes (1995)

HOW ALLEGIANCE BEGAN: It all started on November 11, 1995. The #2 Buckeyes were hosting the Illinois Fightin’ Illini. I tuned into the ABC broadcast and was treated to Eddie George’s 314-yard rushing performancea record that still stands at the school today. I liked the team’s colors and I liked their swagger. Up until then, I was an Alabama Crimson Tide fan. The defection was not—and still isn’t—well received amongst those I’m close with in the Yellowhammer State.

BEST MOMENT: With me being a Buckeyes fan, you’d think my best moment would be the 2003 Fiesta Bowl National Championship win or the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game victory. Nope. The championships are great—don’t get me wrong—but I value the iconic moments when it comes to Buckeyes football. What Ezekiel Elliott did to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl was classic but nothing beats Holy Buckeyeabsolutely nothing.

WORST MOMENT: My worst moment as a Buckeyes fan is always the losses to Michigan. Those mofos cost us national championships by ruining unbeaten seasons in 1995 and 1996. I hate them forever.

 

SPORT: NCAA Men’s Basketball

TEAM (SINCE): Kansas Jayhawks (1992)

HOW ALLEGIANCE BEGAN: My allegiance to the Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball team began with the championship game of the 1992 Big Eight Tournament. The #3 Kansas Jayhawks were playing the #11 Oklahoma State Cowboys at the venerable Kemper Arena. I liked their size and physicality in the low post.

BEST MOMENT: My best moment as a Kansas fan was when we broke through and won the 2008 NCAA Tournament. That Mario Chalmers shot to send the title game into overtime, propelling us to the victory, is the greatest moment in program history.

WORST MOMENT: My worst moment goes back to the 2003 NCAA Tournament. That title game loss to Carmelo Anthony and the Syracuse Orangemen. Knowing that we lost by 3 points while missing 18 of 30 free throws still bothers me to this day.

ALLEGIANCE NOTE: Starting in the 2022-2023 NCAA Division I men’s basketball season, my allegiance will be exclusive to The Ohio State University men’s basketball team.

I know what you’re wondering. Where is my NFL team? The truth of the matter is that I don’t have one. There are plenty of NFL players that I love and pledge allegiance to—mostly for fantasy football purposes—but I’ve never really rocked with a team. Back in the day, I cheered for the 49ers because of Jerry Rice and the Bills because of Steve Christie but I never pledged allegiance to them. I got a Clinton Portis jersey but I don’t root for the Redskins. Aaron Rodgers is my favorite player but I’m not a Green Bay Packers fan. They’ll come a day when I pledge allegiance to an NFL team though…when the NFL returns to Los Angeles. Right now, it’s looking like the Raiders but who knows if Mark Davis will ever leave Oakland. Bottom line, the first team that moves back to the City of Angels will be the NFL team I’ll root for without reservation.

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