Sports fans have emotional attachments to their sports heroes. And some of them don’t make sense.
Welcome to the series Illogical Fandom, where we will discuss the players they have illogical attachements to. Namely, they don’t play for our home team. They are the players we grew to love for random reasons. We got an insert of them in a baseball card pack. They scored a goal on the night we had our first kiss. Or they were just, plain, crazy.
Nick waxes poetic on his love for former San Antonio Spurs’ center, David Robinson.
My love for David Robinson started with a box of Raisin Bran. Back in 1992 kids could send in two UPC codes and get a “Gold Rush” poster featuring Robinson, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Chris Mullin, and Larry Bird. I don’t know why I wanted the poster. I guess I thought it just looked cool. After having about two or three bowls per breakfast for four days in a row, a few weeks later that poster hung on the wall beside my bed. It remained there for years due to the man in the middle.
I don’t remember any specific game with Robinson. Maybe I just liked him because he was really tall. Or because he served in the Navy. Whatever it was, my wall was soon plastered with Admiral stuff and my basketball card collection was filled with Robinson’s visage.
My love for Robinson was illogical because I grew up in small-town Minnesota. And the Timberwolves were my team. The Spurs were our main rivals. The “better power forward: Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett” debate of the late nineties-early 00’s was a hot topic subjects in the NBA. However, I had no qualms with supporting Robinson because he didn’t have an equal on the T-Pups. (Our centers during those years included the likes Dean Garrett, Cherokee Parks, and Stojiko Vrankovic. You get the picture.) Maybe I shouldn’t have liked Duncan’s mentor because the Spurs always seemed to have our number, but something about his class and character on and off the court really drew me to him.
My parents affirmed the importance of character to me at an early age. They liked that I hitched my star to Robinson’s. He served in the Navy, did a lot of charity work, and didn’t have a rap album out.
Last January me and a group of friends went to Annapolis to take in a Navy basketball game. We didn’t have any real interest in watching Patriot League basketball, but David Robinson was going to be there as part of a halftime ceremony honoring the 1986 Navy men’s team that made it to the Elite Eight. I was stoked to see the man that brought me to tears numerous times during my youth. (Mainly when my brother harassed me about getting a Robinson card in a pack and saying he wouldn’t trade it to me.)
Being the only seven foot tall guy there, we were able to spot Robinson pretty easily in the 5,710 seat capacity Alumni Hall. A few minutes before halftime my buddy and I went to go score some nachos. When we were walking back to our seats, I looked down to the lower bowl where Robinson had been sitting and noticed he wasn’t there. That’s when I looked up and saw him walkingstraight towards me.
My eyes widened and I fumbled with my nachos. I hastily stuck out my hand and addressed him with the respect he deserved.
“uhhh… Mr. Robinson, I’m a huge fan.” I was transformed back to my nine year old self. I think my voice probably cracked, too. Luckily his smile was as beaming as it was on my basketball cards. He shook my hand and said thank you. At 23, my childhood was complete.
I stood there for a few seconds just staring at my right hand. My buddy high fived me and we made our way back to our seats. I was beaming for the rest of the game. Oh yeah, and those were the most delicious nachos ever.
Mr. Robinson, you’re a class act and will always be number one on my illogical fandom athletes.
Check out more Illogical Fandom:
Murphy on Tony Fiore
Andrew on Bill Gramatica