Have you ever been in a contentious relationship that you can’t break because, despite all the trials and tribulations you’ve gone through in this partnership, there is a part of you that still believes it could work?
I have been in one for almost 23 years.
The name of the other party is the Orlando Magic.
In a country with a rabid love for basketball and an average height of 5’5″ among the male population, my love for this basketball outfit knows no bounds. I immediately became a fan after seeing Shaq destroy a backboard with one of his many thunderous dunks. In particular, I’m referring to his dunk against the New Jersey Nets in 1993 when Nick Anderson dropped 50 points, Shaq only scored 10 points, and the team lost.
I’m typing this without searching for their stats, When you’re a fan, you just kinda know about the smallest and insignificant things about something.
This fandom, however, has mostly been a one-sided relationship.
I have endured the terrible years of a poorly mismanaged team with players that come and go. Rony Seikaly. Chris Gatling. Steve Francis. The list goes on and on.
There were moments of pure, well, magic. I remember in 2009 when the Magic went up against the highly touted Cavs in the conference finals. I remember lots of people counting the Magic out because it was going up against the 67-win team spearheaded by the best basketball player of this generation, LeBron James.
Still, the fan in me did not waver its support toward the team that I saw grow, fumble, get demolished, and utterly destroyed by other teams in the past. I was screaming my lungs out in the office cafeteria when Dwight Howard dominated Game 4 with 45 points and played huge down the stretch. I felt like an obnoxious fan when I rooted for Rashard Lewis after hitting the dagger three during a pivotal moment in the series (forgot which game).
But due to all the heartache and bullshit I had to endure as a fan, this is one of those moments you want your team to fight through. Because the same opportunities won’t be available down the road. This was one of their crowning moments, and the team took advantage of it by shocking the Cavs to win the series in six games.
While they eventually lost to the Lakers in the Finals after five games, the moment will forever be etched in my mind as one of the greatest times in franchise history.
After that, it went all downhill from there. Since Dwight Howard left, the Magic has been in rebuilding mode for more than five years. Despite several attempts at building a squad for the future, management has failed to fulfill on that promise due to constant personnel moves, inconsistent performances and slow development by some of its lottery picks. I honestly don’t know if they’ll ever replicate the same success that they achieved in 2009, let alone surpass it, but I’m still a fan.
I’ve always wondered why I haven’t jumped ship to become a fan of a more successful team. After all, these are just basketball teams that probably has more things to worry about than care about one of their Filipino fans (assuming that there is more of me here in the Philippines).
However, I remain steadfast. There is always glory for people who wait. It’s only a matter of time, no matter how long it will take.
How about you? Have you been a fan of a sports team? Have you jumped ship when they were losing or stayed despite of it? Share your thoughts and let’s talk about it by commenting below!