As most of you probably know, this has been a rather crazy and horrible year for the Lakers. Trying to find a balancing act between Kobe’s farewell, developing a young team, and winning has proved to be difficult for the team. A lot of us are at our wits end.
But did you know that this is my first official season as a Lakers fan?
That’s right, for most of my life, I was a Chicago Bulls fan. Not by choice, but that’s how I was “raised.” My family was never into basketball, but that’s who my brother rooted for, so I automatically did the same. I spent many years claiming to be a Bulls fan, but my interest really took off when Derrick Rose was drafted.
I spent much of the next few years religiously listening to “The Basketball Jones” and pouring over as much basketball information that I possibly could. I tried out for the basketball team for three years before I realized that I was never very good at it. That killed my interest for a long time, and I fell away from the sport, looking instead to video games and other various activities.
It wasn’t until last year that my friend, who is a die-hard Lakers fan like most of you, told me that I should follow this Twitter account that some of his favorite follows had just started. He said they were funny, smart, and loved basketball more than most people we know. I asked him who they were and he said they called themselves “Team Tank”. So I followed them (I think I was the 20th follower or something like that) and they popped up in my timeline every once in a while. They really made me laugh, and made me miss my days of basketball fandom.
I tried going back to the Bulls, but it wasn’t working. This wasn’t the team that I loved, nor were they a team that I really had any interest in. So, I turned to a franchise that was in a bit of a rebuild: The Los Angeles Lakers.
I started following all of the big names in Lakers Twitter, and a lot of the smaller ones. I fell in love with the young team that we had in Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson, and I fell into the hysteria surrounding the pick and whether or not we would keep it.
I spent the offseason reading as much about the team and everyone on it. Going into draft night, equipped with all of my knowledge on the situation, I predicted that the Lakers were going to select D’Angelo Russell with the second overall pick. My friend laughed, saying that they would very likely pick Jahil Okafor because he was more established. He said he would be fine with either, but he basically said “Nice try, Kyle.” When Adam Silver announced the pick, my friend’s jaw dropped and he looked at me and said, “You’re officially a Lakers fan.”
Months went by, and Summer League commenced. I watched as the youth of our team started to click on both sides of the floor, and I knew that in a few years, this team would be special. I fell in love. So, when an account I followed from the very beginning of my interest in the team, now called Lakers Outsiders, announced that they were looking for new writers, I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring.
And now, five crazy months later, here we are.
I get asked by some of my friends from my hometown if I ever regret becoming a Lakers fan due to the awful season that the team is having. Every time, I tell them no. Because I see the people on Twitter who get emotional with Kobe’s final season, I see the young guys on the floor building their relationships, and I see the 16 trophies that this franchise has amassed over the years and I know that these bad times won’t last forever.
And good or bad, I’m going to be there for it all.