June 19, 1993 (in Australia). A very important day for my family. It was the day that I was born into this world. But also, it was game 5 of the NBA finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns, so of course, my Dad’s attention was fixated onto that game as well as my birth. Although Chicago lost game 5 by 10, Jordan still managed a stat line of 41 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Michael Jordan was the star of the league, on his way to leading his team to a three peat and definitely made a fan out of my Dad. So, when I was born, in honour of his greatness, my middle name became Jordan. My Dad was always affiliated with basketball since he used to play and eventually coach. My older brother who I idolised, Ardi, was also at an age of playing the game, so it was natural that I would pick up a ball from a young age and try it out. Then as time persisted, basketball became my first love.
A constant staple in my life was and still is basketball. Whether it is watching my friends play and trying to help coach them; playing socially and formerly playing competitively; watching NBA and NCAA college basketball and continually trying to stay up to date with news relating to the two leagues. Basketball has been the foundation of many things that embody who I am today. It enabled growth for some of my closest friendships and further built closeness with some family members; provided an avenue to utilise my competitive fire (even if I wasn’t that great); taught me the importance of team; and above all else, allowed me to have fun with the game. My body may tell me to leave the game (though I may return some day), but my mind and my eyes will always be fixated on the sport. Whether it is to help my friends or family be better on the court, or by constantly watching the game on my television or phone or laptop. The game will never leave my life.
Watching the NBA really opened my eyes to the amazing skillsets individuals can have with a basketball in their hand. The shooting, passing, rebounding, athleticism, driving ability, defence. All aspects of the game drew me in and the players became additional idols for which I tried to model my style of play around. I could never play anywhere near to the level of them, but hey, at least I tried, right? My all-time favourite player was and still is Tracy McGrady. The back end of his time in Toronto, then his explosion onto the scene as a superstar in Orlando, followed by his time in Houston were right around the more formative years of my life. This is around the time where I was learning more to understand NBA basketball and the game in general. So, my favourite team was always wherever he played, up until his body unfortunately started to breakdown. The last two seasons he played in Houston in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 where injuries hindered McGrady to eventually lead to him being traded to the New York Knicks, were my last as a fan of the team. That 2009-2010 season left me searching for a team to follow and support, and two particular instances made me a fan of two different teams that same year.
Firstly, since my eyes have also been on NCAA basketball at the same time as the NBA, there was someone else that had drawn my attention. My fandom grew from there to end up being my second all-time favourite player when he came into the league in 2009. The seventh overall pick of the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry. His last two years in Davidson as a Sophomore and Junior from 2007 to 2009 were what made me a fan of his. In particular, his Sophomore year, where he led the team to a deep run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. They unfortunately lost in a valiant effort to the eventual champion, Kansas Jayhawks, by 2 points. His incredible shooting and shot making ability, as well as his continued development as a point guard really shone through in those last two seasons. It made me think, wherever he gets drafted, that’ll be my new team. He personally experienced ups and downs early in his career with his health which made me worried, but, I kept the faith in him. Now, he’s a superstar in the league and the team has been much better than I ever anticipated they would be back in 2009 where they are now viewed as championship contenders, especially after securing their first championship in 40 years in 2015.
Secondly, the great fight that an eight seeded Oklahoma City Thunder put forward in the first round of the 2010 Playoffs where they would end up losing 4-2 against the eventual champion, Los Angeles Lakers, really opened my eyes. The team’s talent mixed in with their youth showed potential to be something great. I had become a fan, especially of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Since that season, they grew into a powerhouse team with the tandem of those two leading the way as superstars to make deep runs into the playoffs multiple times. They unfortunately weren’t able to win a championship together, and the two would eventually split in the free agency period of 2016 where Durant would leave for the Golden State Warriors. As a fan of both of those teams, I was conflicted on how to feel about his departure from the Thunder to join the Warriors especially after their great playoff matchup in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. However, because of that 2009-2010 season, I became fans of both and since then, I decided to stick it out and be fans of them going forward and that definitely won’t change. So, no matter what, Go Warriors and Go Thunder!
– Deejay (The Middle Fro)