While it’s difficult to quantify, we can safely assume that the Golden State Warriors have the biggest base of bandwagon fans in the NBA. Ask star forward Klay Thompson, who was donning the Warriors jersey when the home arena wasn’t as packed as it became when they started winning titles. And frankly, Thompson has had enough of these bandwagon fans.
In a media session on Tuesday, Thompson defended Nemanja Bjelica who’s become the target of Warriors fans for his subpar play. Thompson offered some stinging words to those who started attending games only after the team won a string of titles.
“Nobody’s appreciated by the fans. Fans are so ... fans, man. The real fans know what’s up. I’m talking about the fans prior to winning championships. The fans who sat through many years of not winning,” Thompson said, per NBC Sports.
“But these new fans who come around and expect greatness and they weren’t anywhere to be found prior. They can get away. We can forget those folks. They don’t deserve to rep the Warriors,” he added.
At the onset, Bjelica looked like one of those sneaky players the Warriors snagged from free agency. The man could shoot and knows how to play within Steve Kerr’s motion-heavy offense. But there are games when the Serbian center seemingly underperforms. There are times his shooting percentage hovers just around 40 percent — which is pretty good but isn’t passable for Warriors fans.
Pitfalls of success
Though Thompson didn’t voice it out, perhaps he wants to remind the fans that that’s how the ball rolls sometimes. Players have bad nights and good nights. It’s just the way it is. Besides, Bjelica has had his fair share of injuries which caused him to miss 31 months of basketball action.
Perhaps Thompson just pointed out the pitfalls of success. When one the top of the ladder, people suddenly become his distant relatives. In the Warriors’ case, those who didn’t know a thing about basketball suddenly become diehard Dubs fans.
Thompson isn’t complaining. It’s every NBA player’s dream to reach the pinnacle, to call himself a champion. But given how toxic and rabid some fans have been, the three-time champion is likely dreaming of those early days when the Warriors were nowhere near the playoff radar when they were just a talented young team that still had a lot to learn. When people paid for tickets to witness these young guns evolve without looking at the stat sheet or the scoreboard. All Thompson wants is to be surrounded by fans who genuinely love them.