"The team becomes a central component of their identity, and there are multiple ways where that identity can be threatened," said Daniel Wann, a Murray State psychology professor whose research centers on sport fandom. "If you have a star player who is both good on the field and good off the field, you don't have to worry about those threats. It's the best of all worlds."
"A lot of fans, if you gave them a choice — do you want to lose with good guys or win with bad guys? — they'll take win with bad guys," Wann said. "But to win with the good guys — that's part of what's driving this excitement. Maybe they're going to have their cake and eat it, too."