When people look at my favorite sports teams....usually I get asked "how did you become a fan of such a diverse set of teams?" It is true....there is hardly much that links my favorite teams together....but there is a story behind each one.
For a little background, I was born in Nashville. Don’t know thing one about Music City, since we moved there when I was about 18 months old. As a kid, I grew up in the Greater Cincinnati area. When I was 10, my family moved to Charlotte...and I lived there for 13 years. My wife’s family lives in the Greater Cincinnati area [one of those "whoa" things when we met] so, to be with her...I moved back up here.
So...my team affiliations have been formed by different experiences living in different areas. Here is why I’m a fan.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS. I’ve never been to Washington DC. Actually, I’ve never been to a Redskins’ game. But I love the boys in burgundy and gold. How did I get to be a fan? Well, it was Super Bowl XVII. The Skins played the Dolphins in the Super Bowl. I knew nothing about either team [I was 7 years old at the time]. But everyone in my family was picking Miami to win. To be different, I picked the Redskins. The Redskins won....which made me a young Nostradamus. The next season, the Redskins performed very well....getting back to the Super Bowl [which they eventually were crushed]. I was also crushed...and the love began there. From then on....I’ve been a Redskins’ junkie. When we moved to Charlotte...that was Redskins Country. It has since changed since the Carolina Panthers came to town....but there are many Skins fans still there [you see them there when Washington plays in Charlotte]. My favorite player growing up was Charles Mann. I even had a Dexter Manley poster up [he probably couldn’t read it]. I had a Doug Williams jersey [which had candle wax burned on it after spilling some from a lit candle during the power outage caused by Hurricane Hugo].
NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS. This one is a tad sketchy. Even though I was living in the Cincy area....my mom is from North Carolina. That was my one big difference from the other kids....I wasn’t born there and my mom was from some far away place. Her brother, my uncle, was a huge Tar Heel fan. I remember having some UNC t-shirts he sent me when I was little. My favorite color was [and my room was painted] baby blue. When we moved to Charlotte in ‘85....you are just entrenched in ACC hoops. And, at the time, North Carolina was God...and Duke was up-and-coming. And since I was really into playing basketball....my love for them just grew. My favorite Tar Heel is hard to select. I really support Antawn Jamison...since he is from Charlotte. I really loved Ed Cota’s game at Carolina. I was also a big Jerry Stackhouse fan. The first Tar Heels game I went to was in the early 1990s, when my uncle came down and took me to the old Diet Pepsi Tournament of Champions in Charlotte. Both Carolinas, North and South, would play in this tournament.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS. This one is fairly simple. I had never really played basketball growing up. When I was 9-10, my school was trying to field a basketball team. So, I joined and ended up loving it [after playing for my school...I never played baseball again]. I was Tar Heels fan...but really unaware of where college players went after they left college. I caught on to the NBA on CBS. And in those days...Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia were shown more than any other teams. And, of course, the Celtics and the Lakers clashed in the Finals. When watching the teams...I related more towards the Lakers’ flashy play. I just adored Magic Johnson who was, and still is, my all-time favorite basketball player. Even though Jordan was a former Heel...I rather have Magic on my team. James Worthy, Mitch Kupchak and Bob McAdoo were on that team...all former Heels. So, since then...I was a Laker fan. I’ve been to about 8 Laker games in my life....all in Charlotte.
CINCINNATI REDS. My allegiance to the Reds is like most people’s sports allegiances.....I was born into it. My dad was born and raised in Cincinnati. He is a big Reds fan. His dad, my grandpa, actually coached Pete Rose during his "knothole league"days [that’s Cincinnati’s Little League]. I was born in 1975....which was the first of back-to-back World Series titles for the Reds [1975 was the series against the Red Sox]. My uncle [my dad’s brother-in-law], Russ Nixon, was a coach for the Reds....then eventually took over as manager in 1982. So...not only was a just a fan....it was like I was part of the Reds family. I’m still a Reds fan....which is funny since I’ve moved here....but I don’t have the same feeling about the Reds or baseball as I used to. Back then, I knew I was going to be a ballplayer. I played baseball as long as I could remember...knew every stat of every guy in the league [kind of like the 12-yr old Alex]. I knew that, at worse, my connection to my uncle will at least get me into some level of minor leagues. And I didn’t mind to make chump change playing baseball. But, over the course of time...baseball and me just kind of broke up. Sure, a lot of that was from when I moved to Charlotte. Charlotte is a hoops town...and no one really cares about baseball. But even living here again...I just don’t have that connection to the Reds or baseball as I once did. I could go into a lot of tangents here....but there is just something that has turned me off of baseball.