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A short essay on fandom in the face of tragedy

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Brooklyn Brigade

It’s okay to say, in your shock, your frustration, that the franchise is cursed. It is understandable if you want to walk away, step aside from being so committed, so devoted, to your team. It is even logical in the face of the illogical, the unfair.

An injury like Caris LeVert’s, so random, so public, will devastate any fan, from the most casual to the most fanatic. And the instant reaction is why? Not just why it happened, but why do you so entwine your own personality in that of the team, the player.

Fandom is, as Irina Pavlova used to say, “irrational exuberance,” borrowing a phrase coined to describe investor sentiment. Rooting for a team is a decision borne not from a sterile balance sheet of pluses and minuses but something far more emotional, even feral. These are our guys from our town. We will support them and only them. Go team.

So yes, it is okay to pray, to cry a little.

Have we been through worse than last night? At the moment, it’s hard to think of other examples for so many reasons: the team’s progress, its joy, its camaraderie. Not to mention Caris LeVert who is, as Kenny Atkinson said the “heart and soul” of the team, the avatar for the franchise’s rebuild. So damn unfair.

So to suggest we will “re-evaluate” our connection to the team seems silly. We may tell our family, our friends we will “think” about our fandom, the “curse,” but re-evaluation presumes a logical process and this ain’t logical.

There will be, in coming days, plenty of reason to take pains about our fandom: the medical update with the details of the injury, the prognosis, the possibility of surgery. There will also be discussions of how the Nets should proceed with the season and rebuild now that it’s less hopeful. Should they tank? Etc. etc.

We will cover it all, every last bit of medicine and sports science and capology. There are already plans for a fan’s get-well card and the Brooklyn Brigade no doubt will find a way to uplift us on Wednesday night at our home. So at the end of the day, we will remain loyal despite our doubts which will pass. We are fans and proud to be.