Do Players Really Love Their Fans?


We love our fans, athletes say when interviewed, We’re going to win it for the fans.

But do they mean it?

I took my son to an L.A. Clipper basketball game last Saturday. It’s a big event for a kid who plays and loves basketball. So we splurged and had seats close enough to see the action well. 

As soon as we arrived, my son and his friend ran to the area near the ‘tunnel,’ a passage through which players come out to warm up, return to the locker room, later come out for the game.

Two players, Hedo Turkoglu and Jared Dudley, stopped to give autographs and chat. Very nice guys.

The bigger stars, Chris Paul and Matt Barnes,  stopped to say: “I’ll get you guys on the way back.”

They’re busy, I understand. Don’t want to be distracted from the game. Even if Chris Paul didn’t play that day.

The boys wouldn’t have left that spot if promised ice cream or a month-long homework pass or both. Sure, they got tired standing there, but they waited, pen and paper at the ready. They promised, Mom.

Finally, with less than a minute before the game we gave up and took our seats. Chris Paul and Matt Barnes found their way to the locker room and back via a different route.

I couldn’t help but wonder, as I watched them play, what must be like looking young fans (dressed in jerseys bearing said players’ names and numbers), in the eye and blowing them off. 

As I later learned, autographs are a huge money-making business. They fetch big bucks on eBay. Giving autographs to random kids would diminish their value, and players (or their representatives) know that. They don’t know we’d never do such a thing. They don’t know us. So, I assume, they used: “I’ll get you guys on the way back,” as a No. 

All of this is an assumption, but it’s the story circulating among fans. True fans. 

With that in mind, the resentment we harbored vanished.  A little.  I’d imagine players could spot and separate autograph hunters from true fans. Of course, that’s not their job. They’re there to play a game, which they won on Saturday. Woo-hoo.

For us, however, two things changed that day:

1.  Hedo Turkoglu and Jared Dudley made fans for life. 

2.  We still like Chris Paul and Matt Barnes, sort of the same as before, but … well, time will tell.



10 responses to “Do Players Really Love Their Fans?

  1. The minute I saw your title, I thought, Some do. Some don’t. But I honor the ones who do. My favorite player story is about Rick Fox. He had graduated from UNC and may have been playing for the LA Lakers when I saw him in a local mall, right about the same time a gaggle of small boys did. It was bees to honey. They swirled around him in the mall and followed him outside. All the while, he talked to them, joked with them, and was still having a good time when we walked by them on our way home. Now there’s an athlete with a heart.

    • Yes, Rick Fox was a Laker for years, won some championships here in Los Angeles. You could tell, when he was interviewed, that he was a nice guy. You’re right Noelle, some do, some don’t, or the love bit is just a blanket statement. Different times from the days of Mickey Mantle.

  2. Here in SA there is adulation of main football team though this seems to be waning as so many of them have not been stars or good role models in their private and public lives.
    Hedo and Jared sound like good guys .. May they live up to the admiration of your boys! Wish we had basketball here.

  3. Children, who are fans of these athletes, get disillusioned by the rude players.

    It is not just the sport problem. My gr-daughter and her then 2nd grade friends absolutely *worshiped* Justin Bieber. Now he has become just another misguided super star who has broken their hearts.

    On Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 2:44 PM, Silvia Writes

  4. If they said they would catch them on the way back then they should do. No excuse really. Well done to the other guys.

  5. Glad to find you on the A-Z blog challenge Sylvia!

  6. Some do and some only do when they need some pr

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