Everyone loves a good boo, from Usher and Scout Finch to spooky ghosts and, yes, even the occasional disgruntled fan. In the sports world, booing is the classic expression of displeasure. While the noise and acoustics in a crowded arena may not always allow for a spectator to elaborately articulate his or her vitriol, booing offers an equally cathartic method of sounding off -- while simultaneously frightening nearby children and the elderly.
The reason behind booing isn't always that simple, though. Sometimes it's an immediate reaction to something someone did. Sometimes it's the result of weeks, months, or years of poor play. Sometimes it's just done out of a sense of obligation.
Furthermore, no two fanbases are the same. Some are more impassioned, some hold grudges longer than others, and some can't even agree among themselves whether they should cheer or jeer. As you read this list and look forward to the chilly receptions that individuals will receive during the regular season, it's important to keep the following statement on mob mentality in mind:
Mayor Quimby: "Are these morons getting louder or dumber?"
Quimby's aide: "Dumber, sir."
The 2013-2014 Season, in Boos
"Change your face" boos: David Stern
This is more of an honorable mention, since the end to Stern's reign as commissioner is nigh. Yet, he certainly deserves a nod in an article about boos, being the figure who's absorbed more of them over the past quarter century than anyone else in the NBA. Whether you think it's warranted or not, it's hard to argue that fans' feelings towards him have slowly devolved into a little something like this:
"Oh, it's you..." boos
Where and when: Toronto, December 28, 2013
Some breakups leave a bad taste in your mouth, either by the nature at which they happen or how things were leading up to it. If Toronto's losses the past five years had a face, it would likely be this one, and though Bargnani was never a bad dude, he can expect to hear it from at least a few disgruntled Raps fans.
Where and when: Philadelphia, November 8, 2013
The best thing that came out of Bynum's one-year stint in Philly may have been this .gif. Or maybe this one. One thing's for sure: it wasn't what Bynum did on the court. Nor was it what the Sixers gave up for the now-Cavalier. With every rebound Nikola Vucevic pulls down and every play Moe Harkless makes, the impending jeers for Bynum will only grow.
"Old habits die hard" boos
Where and when: Orlando, March 5, 2014
A few quotes from watching Wreck-It Ralph last night that reminded me of the Rockets' new center:
"The selfish man is like a mangy dog chasing a cautionary tail."
"I flew a spaceship today!"
"I'm gonna wreck it!"
"I'm bad, and that's good. I will never be good--and that's not bad. There's no one I'd rather be than me."
"I love my momma!"
I'm still not sure if Howard is the misunderstood, oversized protagonist or the narcissistic misanthrope who poisons even the most saccharine of worlds. Either way, he's already gone "Turbo" on two teams (apologies--last Ralph reference) and there's no reason to think it couldn't happen again in Houston.
This happened on Howard's visit to Orlando last year, and I don't expect that a new uniform and another spurned franchise left in his wake will change that--at least not this season.
Lebron James, Cleveland, November 27, 2013
As his next 'Decision' approaches, Lebron's returns to Cleveland have become less and less reviled, eerily bordering on amicable. It's unclear just how much Cleveland will reach out to James in 2014 or 2015, but you can bet that this year's visit will be very different from his first return. You know, because Dan Gilbert wasn't saying "boo" to Lebron--he was saying Le-boo-ron. Right?
Not to be confused with...
"What do I do?" boos:
Where and when: Boston, December 11, 2013
Like Ray Allen, who got this reaction last year, Doc abandoned ship from Boston for a contender. Fans know that.
Fans also know that he gave them six good years, including one championship. Yet, because of the nature of his exit, I expect fans to be more bitter towards him than when Pierce and Garnett visit. Many will boo, many will cheer, and the Celtics will lose.
Torches and pitchforks boos:
Where and when: Los Angeles, February 19, 2014
Oh, Dwight again. Well, Orlando fans may have a right to hate Dwight more than Lakers fans, but I think his welcome in LA will be worse. Right after the All-Star break (who knows what his rapport with Kobe will be, assuming they're both in the main event, or what LA's record will be), I expect Lakers fans to really give it to Superman.
Where and when: Oklahoma City, December 29, 2013
There isn't an OKC fan who doesn't recall this moment from last year, which resulted in a torn meniscus for Russell Westbrook and torched the Thunder's championship dreams:
Was Beverley out to hurt Westbrook? I don't think so. It might've been reckless but it wasn't malicious. Unfortunately for him, I don't think Thunder fans will be feeling the same come Dec. 29. As of now, Westbrook is slated to be back in action a few weeks before this game. If his status worsens, you can bet so will Beverley's welcome.
"Tankin' blues" boos:
Where and when: Philadelphia, 2013-2014
Given the state of the team and the history of their city, Sixers fans can get used to this tune in many a fourth quarter. I could post a video of Philadelphia fans terrorizing Donovan McNabb or Santa (both class examples of sportsmanship), but I think this one will do:
This could be a historically bad year for Philly, and the Sixers' adopted ethos of strategic incompetence won't suppress the song of the boo birds.
Of course, this article doesn't take into account the inevitable midseason trades, unexpected losing streaks, and anything Javale McGee might do. Still, it's safe to say fans will be letting players and coaches hear it all year long.
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