Mike’s Note: This was written by my summer intern ‘T-Bird” Steve Benkert. Read with caution!
Declaration of Fandependence: Learning to Love Bullets
For this story to make any sense, we must backtrack a few years of my life. I was born in the heart and center of America, Washington D.C. The District’s effervescent air was the first thing my little baby lungs took in. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was soon to fall head over heels for one of the most renowned and historic D.C. franchises in the past millennium: The Washington Bullets/Wizards.
Bet you thought I was going to say Redskins. (On an editorial side note, I still love, and like every year, think the Redskins are Super Bowl bound).
The back-story continues…
I liked D.C., I truly did. Yet according to my parents, it was time to move. And, being a baby, I had very little say in the matter. So we moved far from any storied sports franchises, to the land of Virginia Beach. While yes, it was rather exciting to watch the minor league soccer Hampton Roads Hurricanes play in desolate high school stadiums, I was a fan of nothing. Nothing sports related, I was, of course, a fan of fireworks, breaking windows, and dinosaurs. I was just another daring beach bum too caught up in his own hair to care about a “team.”
The story picks up…
I moved back to the greater Washington Metropolitan area at the end of elementary school. That’s when I got metaphorically sucker punched in the kidney, hard enough to cause internal bleeding, by the Washington Bullets/Wizards. It made very little sense, the team was down right lousy. But I think I related to the team that included leading scorer Chris Webber and assist machine Rod Strickland. I was new to the area and I was alone, by myself, the odd man out, the early worm, the kid that ate worms… just like the Bullets.
At the start, I didn’t have cable so I was forced to listen to the radio to get my Wizards fix. My Fandependence was low, but I was learning. I was learning to become a consummate fan. Every year my fansmanship would steadily grow, like a line graph documenting a prosperous new restaurant with a sound 10 year business model.
These moments enter my brain: Michael Jordan coming, Michael Jordan pooping the bed, hilarious players such as Popeye Jones, Michael Ruffin, and Peter John Ramos, the first playoff series victory in 23 years courtesy of Jared Jeffries and Co.
Today my fanenthusiasm is through the roof. With three legitimate all stars in Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison all healthy, there are serious murmurs of a Championship season. Not to mention, my man-crush is coming into his own. And yes, I have stood up and challenged Mike’s rules for a man-crush.
So I sit back, finishing this article, now very antsy because I have gotten myself all riled up thinking about the Wiz this season, and I have to pee. However, I am proud to Pledge my Fandependence to the Washington Wizards/Bullets. I check their website once a day and read every new article, I chat with local bloggers about which starting five we’ll see opening day, and I have dreams of and I starring in a “Starsky and Hutch” type real life documentary. I would be Starsky.
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