Imagine game day without the contagious buzz and electrifying sounds of the crowd, passionately rallying behind their team to score that game-defining basket. Fans are more than just spectators, they’re the heartbeat of the NBA experience. And we’re not talking about the Drakes, Lil Wayne’s or Kardashians; instead the die-hard, legacy-carrying fans, the kind who turn their devotion into a family tradition, who’ve plastered every inch of their walls with team memorabilia since they can remember.
The NBA is one of the most renowned sports leagues in the world and with that - comes some seriously passionate fanbases. Last season, the NBA made over $10 billion in revenue. 11.6 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch the Nuggets defeat Miami Heat in the 2023 finals, but hey, you win some, you lose some, right?
We’re diving into the fascinating world of NBA fanbases, to see who takes the longest to shake off a loss. By surveying over 2,500 U.S. basketball fans - we were able to establish which teams have the sorest losers in the league.
Los Angeles Lakers came out on top as the team’s fan base with the sorest losers, scoring a shiny 100/100
In second place, following the Lakers is the Boston Celtics with 69/100
Close behind and taking home the bronze trophy is the Chicago Bulls, with a score of 66/100
40% of NBA fans admitted that they let their team’s loss impact their mood
The top ‘physical reactions’ of NBA fans are either to sit in silence (65%) or shout/scream at the television (58%)
Whether you agree that some of the reactions are justified, almost one-half of NBA fans are ‘sore losers’. So, let’s dive into the world of fan emotions and discover which fanbase can handle the highs and lows of the game.
Despite being one of the teams with a record score of 17 championship wins (tied with the Boston Celtics), the Los Angeles Lakers’ fans are the sorest losers when it comes to NBA fanbases. The Lakers’ claim a score almost as high profile and shiny as its celebrity fan base at 100/100. Pass Lakers’ fans some tissues, as they had some pretty strong physical reactions, with 66% of Lakers fans ‘sitting in silence’ when their team loses and 60% admitting they’ve ‘shouted/screamed at the television’. 44% admitted that they let their team loss impact their mood in some way. However, one thing Lakers’ fans pride themselves on is that they wouldn’t fight someone if their team lost!
It seems that being a reigning champion can… well, get to some fans' heads. And that certainly rings true for the Boston Celtics, following behind the Lakers. When ‘Lucky the Leprechaun’ isn’t feeling so lucky, and the Celtics aren’t on the receiving end of that shiny trophy, it all gets too much for these fans, as they indexed 69/100 on the scoreboards for the ‘sorest losers’. On top of that, 43% of Celtics fans admitted they let their team’s loss impact their mood, and they would react with a ‘shout/scream’ (59%) or by ‘sitting in silence’ (59%).
Taking home the bronze trophy, hot on the tails of the Celtics is the Chicago Bulls with a score of 66/100. Gone are the days of G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan as Bulls’ fans are facing some not-so-rosey reaction. 42% of Bulls’ fans admit to letting their team’s loss affect their mood, as well as ‘sitting in silence’ (60%) and ‘shouting/screaming at the television’ (56%) when their team loses. 20% of Bulls fans admitted they have ‘thrown the remote’ (or another object) when their team has lost in the past.
Completing our top five sorest losers across NBA fan bases include; the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors who both agreed the best way to deal with a loss is to ‘sit in silence'.
Across the board, NBA fans were most likely to react in the following emotional/physical ways when asked; ‘sitting in silence’ (65%), ‘shouting/screaming at the television’ (58%), and ‘throwing the remote/other objects’ (19%). Whilst a smaller proportion of 22% admitted they do not react. An honorary shoutout to the more unique ways of reacting, as some respondents stated they have; laughed at the absurdity, meditated and some even were so disgusted they ‘threw up’. Talk about die-hard fans!
When it comes to reaching for your phone as a way to offload some post-match anger, Indiana Pacers were the most likely to troll the opposing team as 24% admitted to doing so in the past. Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans were most likely to dramatically storm out of the house in reaction to their team loss, and Utah Jazz fans would find themselves delivering an inadvertent punch to a wall, door, or some nearby object. Raptors’ fans also came out on top for most likely to ‘cry’ when their team loses, as 25% agreed.
On the flip side, the team who are most likely to let bygones be bygones and wear the humble crown with pride, is Orlando Magic, scoring 0/100 on the sore loser scale. 57% of Magic fans don’t take their team's loss to heart, as they don’t let it impact their mood. Furthermore, 86% of respondents stated that they don’t let their team’s loss impact their relationship, while 85% of respondents would also ensure that their team’s loss doesn’t affect their work. It seems Magic fans have coined the phrase ‘lover, not a fighter’ as a resounding 0% said they have never fought someone if their team lost, they’ve also never stormed out of the house (0%). A slam dunk for Magic fans for keeping their post-match cool!
Whether you resonate with the reactions of these fan bases, or find peace in your own method of letting out post-game frustration, rest assured that you’re not alone in your feels. While some simply take it on the chin, others… well, don’t be expecting a peace offering pie any time soon from the Lakers.
We surveyed 2,500 NBA fans who avidly watch basketball from across the U.S. We asked a set of questions surrounding how they react to their team’s loss. The answers were collated and a unique, weighted scoring system was applied to each data point, each fanbase was scored out of 100 to establish which team has the ‘sorest losers’. The data was collected in January 2024 during the 2023-24 NBA season.
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