2010 NBA FINALS: Lakers Give Fantastic Fanatics Reason To Believe

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 2010 NBA FINALS: Lakers Give Fantastic Fanatics Reason To Believe
David McNew/Getty Images

 To be a “die-hard” fan of a team can be exhilarating, exhausting,…liberating. No matter the rooting interest, during the 2010 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics all three emotions burst free like Old Faithful. Seven hotly contested games left players and fans of both teams spent once the final buzzer sounded in game 7.

I think it’s fair to say Laker fans felt liberated to exercise the demons of 2008, whereas Celtic fans were exhausted from what turned out to be one strange trip through the regular season, culminating in a devastating loss to their arch nemesis. Throughout the series, internet blogs and message boards were wrought with despair, anger, denial, conspiracy theories, and depending on which team prevailed that night -- joy.

Some Laker fans remember every game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics. For those too young or disinterested in past failings, Celtic fans were more than eager to dredge up the recent past - a 39 point filleting of the Lakers in game 6 of the ‘08 Finals.

In turn, Laker fans resurfaced Magic’s sky hook that buried the Celtics in ‘85 and were insufferable in what many deemed a “return to NBA obscurity” for Boston after “their” game 7 win. So how did we get here? Why do fans of sports teams care so much? And why do so many use words such as “we”, “our”, and “my” when referring to their favorite team?

 

 Passion for sports teams is synonymous with the first time you beat your big brother at anything. It’s on par with your first kiss, your first job promotion. It’s intertwined with the boyfriend who refused to miss a game and the sheer joy you felt when his team won it all. It’s picking a team for it’s colors only to be seduced by a regular Joe Cool throwing last minute touchdowns.

Or deciding to join a friend for a playoff game only to sit in awe as a flying Dr. defies the laws of physics. It’s swallowing disbelief while a baby faced assassin dubbed The Great One walks on ice while lasering pucks through the net. It’s the improbability of an Olympic hockey team winning a gold medal no one ever dreamt possible and Disney making a tear jerker movie about it.

It’s 73 saves on ice - in body pads, no less -- to secure a 3-2 playoff win. It’s a football glued to a helmet when your team was destined for perfection. It’s your team ignoring perfection and winning the Super Bowl.  It’s living the lyrics “Don’t Stop Believing!” when your team is down six with 18.7 seconds -- and wins the game on a 8-0 run.

 It’s a star player limping around the court to inspire a team to finish the job. It’s a perfect field goal in 4 inches of snow. It’s feeling the anguish of the 1972 Men’s Olympic basketball team. It’s remembering exactly where you were, what you were wearing and how you felt when they almost made it, lost in the waning moments, or buried tears under flowing champagne.

In triumph or defeat sports gives us timeless, shared moments. They remind us of our own fragility while encouraging us to keep fighting the good fight no matter how bleak or improbable life may seem at times. And don’t be fooled by “bandwagon” fans in their half hearted attempts to avoid the frustration and sleepless nights.

In fact they cheer from afar because they care too much, the emotional rollercoaster a ride they promised to never take again. Instead, they jump on when the odds of escaping heartache are lessened, but in no way guaranteed. So if your team just lost game 7 of the NBA Finals after leading for all of a half quarter, or your star pitcher was robbed of a perfect game because of an umpire’s "lack of vision", I implore you -- “Don’t Stop... Believin'... Hold on to that feelin”.

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