NBA Power Rankings: The 10 Worst Fanbases in the NBA

Joye PruittSenior Analyst IMay 17, 2012

NBA Power Rankings: The 10 Worst Fanbases in the NBA

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    NBA fans are some of the most passionate fans in the country—at least, the ones who actually care more about the game and their hometown franchise than the flash of the bright lights and the Hollywood numbers.

    Bad fanbases, however, can have a demeaning and disenchanting effect on the teams they represent. These fans refuse to fill the seats even when their team shows a little bit of growth.

    It’s all or nothing, and unfortunately for some franchises, until they’re completely back in the running, it’s nothing. A bad fanbase is the most unpredictable avenue of the game. 

    While there are a bunch of fans ready and willing to launch drinks at their team’s opponent just to get him off of his game, there are more than a handful less than willing to even pay for the seat.

    There are the fans who won’t be their squad’s sixth man for 48 minutes, including down the stretch when things look a bit too foggy to call. These are those fans.   

10. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    It’s not a lack of dedication that landed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans on this list. It is that fateful day in the summer of 2010 that will always stick in the minds of many.

    Burning jerseys in effigy after “The Decision” was the most outlandish response to a removed superstar ever publicly displayed, with a few close second places. Ever gotten into an argument with a Cavaliers’ fan?

    It is the most amazing thing ever because there will likely be mention of “Queen James” or “LeBrick” as many times as anyone on their standing roster, probably more. This season has attempted to bring another star to the forefront in the form of a charismatic rookie point guard out of Duke University.

    Kyrie Irving snagging the Rookie of the Year award should cool off the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the moment and force them to look more towards the future of the franchise.

    Still, there is that overly dramatic, spiteful, clingy side to this group that puts them in the bottom ten. 

9. New Orleans Hornets

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    The New Orleans Hornets’ fans had Chris Paul snatched right out of their grasp. Even one of their underappreciated role players, David West, is battling in the 2012 NBA playoffs while they sit at home trying to right this very wrong ship.

    The fans lost a lot of their morale and mojo for their franchise. There is nothing much to cheer for anymore. To be completely honest, Hornets’ fans never really came to games that much in previous seasons, either.

    There is a way to re-instill that fan faith, though. Bringing back Eric Gordon is a start.

    Although he did not play much this season due to a bruised knee in the season opener, which led to arthroscopic surgery on Valentine’s Day, Gordon is an asset that the Hornets do not want to see let go in the offseason.

    He is a premiere shooter in the league and, with some young talent surrounding him, could begin repairing the Hornets’ reputation in the league after Paul’s removal.

    Fans have the seventh-worst attendance in the league on the season with 15,901 per game.

8. Los Angeles Lakers

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    Los Angeles Lakers fans are extremists. There are the ones who are fair-weather fans. Then there are the overly dedicated ones who are in extraordinary denial about the present-day state of the franchise.

    Take the first two games of the Los Angeles Lakers-Oklahoma City Thunder second-round series.

    The Lakers were blown out in the first meeting, which is conveniently either ignored or overlooked, as were Kobe Bryant’s shortcomings in the second game of the series, which the Thunder subsequently walked away with as well.

    Lakers fans think the league revolves around Kobe Bryant but are quick to reject the probability that the series will not be won on his accord.

    The Hollywood aura surrounding the franchise makes it hard to be focused solely on the game without paying a little too much attention to the stars in the audience.

    Staples Center is more like a page out of Star or Us Weekly than a basketball arena. 

7. Miami Heat

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    The general consensus around the league and in the chairs of NBA stars-turned-analysts is that Miami fans are some of the worst fans in the NBA.

    They have a bandwagon air to them. Not all Heat fans are standing back waiting for great things to happen and remaining unsupportive until they do. However, fans down in Miami like the franchise for the glamour and glitz they have come to personify.

    Do they care that LeBron James was switched to the 4 for the betterment of the Heat’s low-post defense against players like David West and Roy Hibbert? Does it really matter that Joel Anthony was injected into the lineup unsuccessfully to combat more offensively efficient post players?

    Not in the least bit. What matters is that both LeBron and Dwyane Wade are able to deliver on those magnificent top-10 plays that eject the crowd from their seats. It’s the personality of the team that attracts their fans.

    Their success is neither here nor there. Fans in Miami are primarily indifferent. 

6. Atlanta Hawks

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    The Atlanta Hawks fans truly mirror their franchise—passionless and seemingly indifferent. This could ring true because of Atlanta’s premature exits in the playoffs year after year.

    It could also be a possibility that they are waiting for a change, saving their breath. Having such an emotionless player like Joe Johnson as the face of the franchise may do that to tens of thousands of fans, who may want to show support and fan spirit but just can’t find it.

    Johnson is one of the more stale players in the league, and the franchise, with the exception of Josh Smith, Jeff Teague and Al Horford, also personify that dull appearance.

    This season brought a bit more explosive play, but with the highest-paid player on the team barely changing his facial expression or taking a game into his hands, the fans will likely be just as dull. 

5. Indiana Pacers

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    Does anyone mind telling Indiana Pacers fans that they do not suck? One would assume from their attendance that the Pacers are festering at the bottom of the league.

    They actually entered the 2012 NBA playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and are currently giving the Miami Heat a run for their money in a series where they were incredibly underrated.

    Still, it seems like none of the recent success of the Pacers matters much to a home crowd who have the second-worst home attendance record in the league (14,168 per game).

    The Pacers deserve better from the home crowd as they enter the higher echelon of the league and become a far more dominant team than we have seen in past seasons. 

4. Detroit Pistons

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    Detroit was once the home of the Bad Boy Pistons. It is not hard to believe the morale of the fans has fallen drastically since those days.

    In the most recent seasons, it has been even harder to think that the 2003 NBA draft is not what started it all. Even though the Pistons went on to win the 2004 NBA finals, things just have never been the same.

    It has all come full circle as fans remember that fateful 2003 draft pick when players like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony were available.

    Looking at the franchise now is looking at a team who just never gets it enough to matter in the league anymore. Fans are plain sick and tired of the poor executive moves by former Pistons player Joe Dumars.

    Sending Chauncey Billups away was one of those very awkward and confusing moves. It’s going to take a lot more than an okay season from their lottery pick, Brandon Knight, and a few strong showings from Austin Daye for the faith of the fans to be restored. 

3. Golden State Warriors

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    The Golden State Warriors fans are incredibly dedicated to say the least. However, it seems like being in support of their executives is not something that comes with the territory. Who can really blame them for booing their owner, Joe Lacob?

    They have been taken through some pretty tough times with this franchise who can’t seem to get their footing in the Western Conference.

    A lot of it stemmed from the Monta Ellis trade. Ellis was their Messiah and to let him go and keep a seemingly ailing Stephen Curry may have been a bit of a slap in the face.

    Still, it was time to move on from him and start next season off in a different direction. Get on board, fans. It’s just not your moment in the spotlight yet. 

2. Charlotte Bobcats

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    The rest of the NBA world has to feel sorry for the Charlotte Bobcats and their fans.

    What they have had to endure for the entire 66-game 2011-12 season is unlike anything any other team has had to face as they are crowned the worst team in the history of the game.

    The Bobcats are not only poorly coached, but they were poorly staffed and incredibly poorly run by the Michael Jordan.

    Michael Jordan has run this franchise into the ground and refuses to give up on an experiment gone badder than his stint as a baseball player and his return to the league as a player for the Washington Wizards.

    Charlotte fans have resorted to borrowing the brown paper bags of last season’s Cavalier fans to show how embarrassed they feel to even be associated with the franchise. There needs to be a turnaround soon, or else the damage done will take a while for fans to recover from. 

1. Brooklyn Nets (formerly New Jersey)

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    They root for the team on the road. No, not when the Nets are on the road. Nets fans root for the opposing squad more times than not. LeBron James even got a few MVP cheers after a 17-point fourth quarter on New Jersey’s home court.

    The Nets have a lot of improvements to endure before they return to the time where Nets fans would actually praise them instead of the obvious, more elite opponent.

    The disenchantment of the franchise’s fans kind of reflects Deron Williams’ discontent with the direction and present form of the organization and the team on the floor around him. Brook Lopez’s injury put a lot more pressure on the point guard, who was not ready or quite willing to take such a high volume of shots on a persistent basis.

    Plainly stated, he had no help, and Nets fans reaped the sour rewards of a franchise in transition.