Athletes Who Are Huge Fans of Other Teams
Kobe Bryant didn’t grow up cheering for Los Angeles teams. LeBron James isn’t a rabid fan of all things Miami. Just because an athlete has been made famous for wearing a particular uniform, that doesn’t mean he or she might not have allegiances beyond that jersey.
Some of these athletes root for their hometown teams, while some are transplants or (less legitimate) bandwagon fans. One just has a deep and rightful respect for Michael Jordan, and frankly, that’s enough for me.
Here are 15 athletes who are huge fans of other teams. How deep does their loyalty run? Let’s find out.
Thierry Henry, San Antonio Spurs
The New York Red Bulls striker is a big-time fan of the NBA in general. In an interview with PUMA, he explained, “I grew up with Michael Jordan playing basketball, so me loving basketball, growing up with him playing—that was amazing for me to see.”
Though he seems to be more a lover of the game in general, Henry does support his fellow Frenchman Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs. The two have become good friends, and Henry says Parker helped convince him to play soccer in the U.S., according to ESPN.com's Ian Begley.
Dwyane Wade, Chicago Bears
Dwyane Wade is from Chicago. Despite his failure to play for his hometown Bulls (much to Chicagoans’ dismay), he is a big supporter of the Windy City’s football team.
LeBron James, Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees
LeBron James is from Akron, Ohio, and he even played for his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers for seven seasons. But that doesn’t mean he’s a Browns or Indians fan. Apparently, James leans more toward the bandwagon tendencies—he publicly supports the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees.
According to CBSSports.com, James was disappointed with the Cowboys’ decision to pass on Johnny Manziel in the NFL draft. And in 2007, he upset Cleveland Indian fans by flaunting his Yankees fandom at a playoff game between the two teams.
Then again, he was also seen wearing this in March. So who knows.
Matt Kemp, San Francisco 49ers
Matt Kemps says he’s been a fan of the San Francisco 49ers since he was a kid.
According to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick, Joe Montana attended a Los Angeles Dodgers game back in 2012, and the following day, Kemp found a gift in his locker. The gift was a signed Montana 49ers jersey that read “Enjoy watching you work. The best. Joe Montana.”
Kemp thought so too, saying, “I’m so happy I want to cry.”
David Beckham, Los Angeles Lakers
David Beckham has become a regular at Los Angeles Lakers games since moving to Los Angeles to play for the Galaxy in 2007. In the 2014 documentary about Steve Nash, per LakersNation.com, Beckham said, "I’ve been a fan of Magic for many many years. ... Moving to L.A., I became a huge Laker fan."
Becks can often be seen courtside with one or more of his family members in tow. But as much as he enjoys the basketball games, he doesn’t appear to be quite as fond of the cheerleaders.
Rafael Nadal, Real Madrid
Despite the fact that his uncle played for Barcelona, Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal is a lifelong Real Madrid fan. He attends games when he can, pals around with Cristiano Ronaldo and has even been asked for his opinion on such matters as player acquisitions.
In 2013, he was asked on Sky Sports if Real Madrid was paying too much money for Gareth Bale. Rafa’s response:
It’s always the same at the end. If you sign a good player for a lot of money, then it’s not a lot of money. If you sign a not very good player and you pay 10 millions and the player is not playing well, so that’s a lot of money.
Michelle Kwan, Los Angeles Lakers
Beckham may be an L.A. transplant, but Michelle Kwan is homegrown. The former Olympic figure skater is among the hordes of famous Lakers fans, an army led by General Jack Nicholson. Kwan is from Southern California originally and spent a year studying at UCLA.
At one point, she was going to at least 10 games per year, according to a 2005 article in The Chicago Tribune, getting free tickets and parking at each one (at least back in 2005). But always a loyal fan, she still goes to games even now, almost a decade later.
Andre Iguodala, San Francisco 49ers
Kobe Bryant, Philadelphia Eagles
Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia and his father, Joe Bryant, played for the 76ers. He is also a big fan of his hometown Eagles. Bryant has been seen sporting the team's jerseys in public and blasting his four million-plus Twitter followers with Eagle love.
Taking a page from Manny Pacquiao’s book (more on that later), Bryant reportedly even sent Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson signed No. 24 Lakers jerseys in 2011.
Steve Nash, Tottenham Hotspur
Steve Nash is a lifelong fan of Tottenham Hotspur, despite growing up in Canada. Nash told Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated, "My dad grew up in Tottenham, and so did my dad's dad. My whole family is Tottenham fans.”
A true fan of the sport, Nash plays in an amateur league to cross-train in the summer and take a break from basketball. He is also a minority owner of the MLS franchise the Vancouver Whitecaps, a team on which his brother played.
Phil Mickelson, San Diego Chargers
San Diego native Phil Michelson is a giant Chargers fan and has been since he was young. The three-time Masters champion even told Golf Digest's Bob Verdi in 2009 (via ESPN.com), “A long-term goal, yeah, that would be one of them, to have some sort of ownership interest in the Chargers.”
You stay classy, Phil Michelson.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Washington Redskins
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been a fan of the Washington Redskins since he was nine years old. His mother gave him a full Redskins uniform for his birthday, and he was hooked, according to Junior himself, via ESPN.com.
Post-Daytona 500, back in February, Earnhardt weighed in on his team on Fox Sports Live (via The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg), telling Donovan McNabb:
I think you’ve got to give RGIII the opportunity to start…You’ve got to give RGIII a chance to have an offseason with his receivers, work with those guys and get on the same page with routes and timing. And maybe he can kind of go back to his form he had in 2012.
Manny Pacquiao, Boston Celtics
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao is a huge Boston Celtics fan. He’s such a huge fan, in fact, that he once delayed his own fight so he could finish watching a big playoff game between the Celtics and Miami Heat, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England (via CBS Sports' Matt Moore).
Kevin Durant, Washington Redskins
Kevin Durant was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in neighboring Maryland. He is a Washington Redskins fan to the core, so much so that he was recently involved in recruiting DeSean Jackson to come play for the team.
According to Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post, Durant called Jackson several times to recruit him to the nation’s capital (h/t ESPN 980's Inside the Locker Room). Good news for Durant—his recruitment tactics were successful, or at least they didn’t hurt. Jackson signed with the 'Skins in April 2014.
Michael Phelps, Baltimore Ravens
The most decorated Olympian of all time was born and raised just outside of Baltimore. Michael Phelps is a huge Ravens fan and has even developed a friendship with Ray Lewis over the years.
He is a big enough fan that the team left him in charge of its Twitter account during a December 2013 game against the Minnesota Vikings.