Thursday, December 27, 2012

Home Town Loyalty

  Recently I have been receiving some grief from present and past mid western friends of mine for being an avid New York Knicks fan. A loyal and not ashamed to say, obsessed one at that. Why, you might be thinking, would I get grief for being a Knicks fan? 
Well, here goes. I hail originally from Chicago - a homegrown nice Midwestern girl (or something like that at least). I grew up accompanying my gym-going suburban mother to the local gym, the Multiplex, from the time I was just big enough to be left alone. Now this was no ordinary run of the mill gym - this was THE Multiplex...a state of the art,  place-to-congregate for suburban moms to socialize while aimlessly climbing on the stairmaster. So while these supremely well-dressed yuppy mothers were sweating our their suburban woes, they left their small children on the benches by the (now quite famed) indoor basketball court. I, usually accompanied by my elementary school friend, Ann, was among these children. You might be musing as to the significance this bears to the current "hometown loyalty" post you're reading...fear not, I am getting to that. Sitting on the Multiplex bleachers for all those years, I was not merely bearing witness to any measly amateur practice. Au contraire my sporty friends. Six, seven, even ten year old me was sitting essentially in courtside seating watching none other than the "World Champion Chicago Bulls!" at their best, in the heart of their prime days. Yes, that's right, while ours mothers worked to keep their Highland Park selves in shape, Ann and I were watching Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin make history, casually telling Horace Grant we liked his goggles and sneakers, all the while taking the unparalleled experience for granted.
     On top of these other-worldly daily Bulls practice viewing experiences, I, like most Chicago families, had nightly viewings of most Bulls games on TV. My dad would typically order in pizza, turn on the family room TV to whatever channel the Bulls were on that particular night, and essentially mandate that we watch from start to finish. Though for several years I may have mistakenly believed watching the Bulls on TV was "annoying and boring", I know now that it was a magical experience. Being from a place where your home team were the champions year after year was an undeniable high. It was nearly impossible to grow up in Chicago not being a die-hard Bulls fan.
     Now to the present. Many years later, I live nowhere near either Chicago or the Bulls. I'm a New York CIty gal now...and after a few years of transformation, a loyal, true to the core Knicks fan. It took a few years for me to get "Let's go Bulls" out of my head every time I heard the NBA game-time song and adjust it to "Let's go Knicks" but I've now successfully mastered it. Although I still have a soft spot for Black and Red, the colors that warm my heart the most are now Blue and Orange. While my heart still flutters when I hear "Bulls tonight at The United Center", I can feel the more immense excitement at hearing the "Friday Night Knicks on MSG" jingle. And although sometimes I still cannot believe my own emotions, I have come to terms with my New Yorker status and embraced my loyalty for the Knicks. In my opinion, when you reside in a city for the better part of a decade, you are a resident. While I still hail from the Windy City originally, Manhattan is my is now where my heart lies. Having said that, I guess not everyone shares my same stance. 
     A couple weeks ago, I attended a Knicks vs Bulls game at Madison Square Garden. Decked in Blue and Orange, chanting "Let's Go Knicks" at 40 decibals, I was amped and ready for the game between my home town and my current city. I was but, to my chagrin, many of my Chicago peers were not. In typical NYC fashion  I of course ran into several kids from my high school, who (after a reunion-esque hug), upon seeing my Melo #7 garb, promptly boo-ed me. "How could you, Rach?" "I see who's forgotten her roots now." "What an east coast poser." For a few seconds, I tried to defend myself to my former peers but it became quickly obvious that my habitation rants were not going to be successful. So instead I simply smiled, cheered for Raymond Felton in my head, said goodbye and waltzed back to my section 200 seats.
     The Knicks ultimately lost to the Bulls that night but I don't take the loss symbolically. The game was heated, physical and intense, and in the end, the Bulls played better. They deserved the win. And while I needless-to-say wanted the Knicks to triumph that night, I felt a little bit more okay about the loss than I otherwise would have. To see Black and Red triumph over Blue and Orange stung for a moment...and then it didn't. I'm a New York girl now and always with a little bit of Midwest stuck in her blood. And with that, Let's Go Knicks!

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