To many, he’s the most famous NBA fan in the world right now. To me, he’s just one of my mates. I was lucky enough to sit down with Jim over the weekend to trade stories, reminisce about the good old days, and of course, talk about his pending decision. The Decision.
First off, I wanted to know Jim’s thought process for short-listing the Bucks and the 76′ers – two teams that weren’t even on the radar when we started covering this story two weeks ago. Jim was candid with me.
“Reading some of those comments on your blog made me think seriously about some teams I otherwise would not have”, Jim said. He went on to recount the story of when he first seriously considered the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I could definitely see myself as a Bucks type of guy – people in Milwaukee like camping don’t they? I love camping.” I had no idea whether people in Milwaukee liked camping or not, but I nodded in agreement.
“They have moose in Milwaukee” I added. I had no idea if this was true, but I knew that moose were Jim’s favorite animals. When we were in the US in 2004 at Grand Teton National Park (lovely place), we hiked about 22 kilometers looking for a moose so Jim could tick it off his bucket list. We eventually saw one, from about 400 meters away, and it was very unremarkable. For about 20 minutes I stared at this moose and it moved its head about two inches in total. We actually couldn’t tell if it was alive, or stuffed. But Jim enjoyed it. Because he loves moose. At Niagara Falls he bought a bobble-head moose and named it Bruce, and stuck it on our Winnebago dashboard. At least Bruce’s head moved. But I digress..
This is a 30-second animated GIF of the moose we saw at Grand Teton National Park
“Of course. Moose is a HUGE tick in the Bucks box”, Jim was excited. He then recounted some of the facts on Milwaukee that he researched to help make up his mind. Milwaukee has Bogut. Milwaukee is famous for its beer. Milwaukee has Squad 6 and therefore one of the best crowds in the league. The Bucks are Milwaukee’s oldest surviving major sports team. According to Wikipedia, you can go “sailing, windsurfing and ethnic dining” in Milwaukee. And Jim was also a big fan of Oscar Robertson.
“I always thought he had a very impressive all round name… Oscar Robertson… he was bound to be awesome at something with that sort of name. I would have guessed play write/poet rather than athlete though…”
So that explained the Bucks making Jim’s shortlist. What about the 76′ers?
“The 76′ers I added in at the very last minute. After working with Irish (nickname of one of Jim’s mates who’s from Philly) for 2-3 years I have actually found myself become both an Eagles and a Phillies fan. I also support Villanova in college ball, so it would be convenient to support all teams from the same city. Also, Clarence Weatherspoon.”
“And cheese steaks”, I added. Jim nodded. Let me explain.
On that same US road trip in 2004, we were driving from New York City to Washington. Looking at the map we saw Philadelphia conveniently positioned between the two cities – we would be driving straight past it. I didn’t know much about Philly at that point, but I did know they were famous for their cheese steaks, and I did know that Geno’s was the most famous cheese steak restaurant in all of Philly. So our genius idea was to take a detour on our way to Washington, via Geno’s, for a cheese steak.
Let me give some advice to anyone planning a road trip around the US in a Winnebago. Do NOT try and drive to Geno’s for a cheese steak when you are hauling 30 foot worth of RV behind you. It is not just off the highway. It is smack bang in the center of Philly and there are all kinds of narrow car-lined one-way streets that are just NOT DESIGNED FOR THAT SORT OF THING. It is truly a miracle that we didn’t A) kill ourselves, B) kill someone else, or C) smash our vehicle beyond repair. I was driving, with what I swore was 1-2 inches of space either side of the RV. Everyone else in the vehicle – Jim included – had their eyes shut praying. This went on for about 15 minutes, after which – miracle #4 – we somehow managed to park our massive vehicle about 20 meters from Geno’s in a very busy part of town.
Geno’s. Note the space between parked cars on either road.
The cheese steak was delicious. Was it worth a 3-hour detour from hell? Probably. And for this reason Philly has always had a soft spot in our hearts. If you had told me then, six years ago at Geno’s, that Jim would end up a 76′ers fan? I wouldn’t have had any reason to doubt you. I also would have told you to shut up and let me enjoy my cheese steak.
Back to the interview with Jim.
Time was escaping us, and we hadn’t discussed Jim’s “Big Three” – Chicago, Miami and New York. To be honest, I was already very familiar with the reasons why he shortlisted those teams. I talked about it two weeks ago. The Bulls were Jim’s team in the nineties, and despite not “following” the NBA for almost a decade, he still felt some sort of nagging allegiance to his old team.
The Heat featured Jim’s favorite player, Lebron, who perhaps is the biggest reason Jim was so excited to get back into the NBA. That’s how it often starts, right? People didn’t become Bulls fans without seeing Michael Jordan. You saw Michael, thought “holy shit this guy is amazing”, and then you started wearing your Bully jersey around. For this reason I always thought Miami was in the box seat as Jim’s preferred team. The only problem – and it ain’t a small one – is that choosing to root for the Heat right now involves jumping on the biggest God-damn bandwagon ever constructed in the history of pro sports. Is that baggage Jim was prepared to live with?
He evaded the question, but didn’t really seem bothered. Jim is not one to overly care about what other people think. He wouldn’t pick the Heat because of the big names or the “brand”. He’d only pick them if he was passionate enough to get behind the entire team, and stick with them for the long run.
That left the Knicks. The same Knicks that Lebron so rudely abandoned when he made his decision on that fateful day in July. And then Jim told me about the epiphany he had the night before.
“I was on the net, when i noticed that episode 1, season 4 of Gossip Girl had been aired in the US last week, and was ripe for downloading. Now, you understand the level of excitement that I experienced as a result of this, like OMG…”
Unfortunately I did, Gossip Girl was one of Jim’s favorite shows. Two years ago he unsuccessfully tried to convert me as a fan by forcing me to watch five minutes of it. That is five minutes of my life I will never get back. Jim continued.
“Then I started watching the episode, and I realised how much the show relied on New York City for its awesomeness”. His eyes were lighting up.
“And I thought, this awesome city cannot go forever without having an exciting NBA team, it is just not possible”. Strangely he was making sense.
“And can you imagine what will happen when the city of Gossip Girl gets a ripper team? Wow”. He just smiled.
So there you have it folks. September 20th 2010, mark it in your calendar. The day New York City was named the “City of Gossip Girl”.
The day it went to the top of Jim’s list.