As you may or may not know, I’m a huge San Antonio Spurs fan and an NBA fan in general. I grew up just outside of Houston during the height of the Olajuwon era, so I was a Rockets fan as a kid. We were all conditioned to hate the Spurs, our biggest rivals, so it really speaks to everything the Spurs organization represents that they were able to convert me in adulthood. If you follow the NBA, you know that the Spurs made a lot of moves in the off-season. Like any fan, I’m extremely impatient for the new season to start so we can all stop speculating about how all the new pieces will fit into the well-oiled Spurs machine. Finding a way to relate my passion for the sport to my recent trip to Taiwan proved to be a great distraction from that.
I didn’t initially set out to make this list, but after spotting my second NBA jersey during the first few days, I thought it would be interesting to keep a running tally of any jerseys I spotted. I was particularly curious which players and teams were popular overseas in a country that hasn’t really produced any NBA players, and where the fans may not have the same local allegiances that we do here in the States. Keep in mind that I was staying in hotels and visiting a lot of tourist attractions, so my experience may not be an accurate representation of the everyday population. Some of these people may also have been mainlanders. Also, it’s difficult to tell if all of these people are real fans or if they just enjoy wearing jerseys as fashion accessories. Nevertheless, 13 players from 10 different teams are represented here in this list. The Warriors and the Bulls seem to be the most popular teams.
I was a bit surprised not to see a single Jeremy Lin jersey from any of his many teams as he is, of course, Taiwanese-American. Though I am not a JLin fan myself, it made me sad to think that his popularity has waned not only in the States but also in Taiwan. I did, however, see someone wearing a New York Knicks Linsanity T-shirt on the subway.
1. Portland Trailblazers [player unknown]
Since I hadn’t started making this list yet when I spotted my first jersey, I can offer no details here. It was a current design, so my best guess is it was a Damian Lillard or LaMarcus Aldridge jersey. I think we were at a restaurant.
2. Phoenix Suns [Jason Kidd]
Spotted on the MRT en route to the Taipei Zoo. It was nice to see a vintage jersey for a retired player. As you’ll see further down the list, most of the jerseys I spotted were of current superstars.
3. San Antonio Spurs [Kawhi Leonard]
Spotted at the Taipei Zoo in front of the Przewalski’s horse. Kawhi happens to be my favorite current player, so I was happy to see someone with his jersey right off the bat.
4. Golden State Warriors [Stephen Curry]
Spotted at the Daan MRT station. The current golden boy; no surprises there.
5. Miami Heat [LeBron James]
Spotted at the Chimei Museum in Tainan. Again, no surprises there. I honestly thought there would be more LeBron jerseys around.
6. Toronto Raptors [Vince Carter]
Spotted walking the streets at Tamsui.
7. Chicago Bulls [Derrick Rose]
Spotted at the Raohe Street Night Market.
8. Golden State Warriors [Klay Thompson]
Spotted at the Raohe Street Night Market.
9. Golden State Warriors [Stephen Curry]
Spotted at the Raohe Street Night Market. This is the place to go if you’re on the lookout for NBA jerseys, I guess. This is also marks the first repeat player I witnessed. (For the record, #8 and #9 were not together.)
10. Chicago Bulls [Derrick Rose]
Spotted yet again at the Raohe Street Night Market. I would wonder if it was the same guy as the other one, but I saw one right after the other and they were coming from opposite directions. Still, seems like a strange coincidence. I had not seen a single Bulls jersey until then.
11. Dallas Mavericks [Dirk Nowitzki]
Spotted at the Taipei Bus Station. I thought I would see more foreign players, to be honest.
12. Indiana Pacers [Paul George #24]
Spotted at breakfast in the Dandy Hotel in Taipei. I saw this jersey again later that morning. I’m not entirely sure if it was the same person (all Asian people look the same, yada yada), but I assume so.
13. Chicago Bulls [Ben Gordon]
Spotted in the Dandy Hotel lobby. I’m not 100% sure on this one. The guy was wearing a jacket (in that heat, why?) so all I saw was a #7. As far as I can tell, no superstar ever wore #7 for the Bulls. Of all the players on this list he is the only one I’m not familiar with, but I see he won Sixth Man of the Year once, so I guess he has name recognition. (I don’t really follow the Eastern Conference.)
14. Oklahoma City Thunder [Kevin Durant]
Spotted in the Dandy Hotel lobby. She was with #13.
15. Chicago Bulls [Michael Jordan]
Spotted in the Dandy Hotel lobby. Again, I’m not 100% sure on this. She was also wearing a jacket that obscured most of the jersey. But she seemed to be wearing MJ’s number. She was with #12. Only #14 and #15 on this list were worn by young women.