Stupid newbie question - Why does it matter on the front wheel? I didn't pay super close attention and with rotors on both sides, the wheel looked identical from both sides. I kinda just took the techs work for granted and mounted the wheel according to the tread pattern. So far nothing untoward has happened.
The only stupid question is the one you DON'T ask. Don't be ashamed to ask questions cuz that's how you learn. All of us old guys had to learn from somewhere.
Two issues here. One is wheel rotation direction and the other is tire rotation direction.
First the tire. The tire manufacturer designs the tire with a rotational bias ie, it's internal structure was engineered and built to roll one particular direction. This is why motorcycle tires have a direction arrow on the sidewall. Make sure when installing you put the tire on with the arrow pointing in the direction of correct wheel rotation.
Issue two: Wheel rotation direction is really only a factor on a front wheel with 2 brake rotors. It would not be possible to install the rear wheel any way other than the correct way. Chain on one side and brake on the other, so backwards installation is not possible. Same logic apply's to a single rotor front wheel. Rotor goes on the brake caliper side only.
The twin disc front wheel however is usually the same on both sides. Most wheels have a direction arrow on the hub, though they can be somewhat subtle and hard to see. A few wheels however do not have an arrow. I usually mark mine before removing with a piece of painters tape and with a pen draw an arrow.
So why is it important to install the wheel the same way as it came off the bike? There can be very subtle differences from one side of the wheel, rotors and other brake components, to the other side. Turning the wheel around could cause things to not quite fit right like the do when properly installed.
Something else to watch for are wheel spacers. Some bikes like the Versys, the spacers on the front wheel are identical. There are some bikes that do not have identical spacers and reversing these could be disastrous. The recently happened to a buddy's KTM 1190. He took it to the shop for a new front tire and the rookie tech reversed the front wheel spacers when installing the front wheel. When my buddy tried to unload it off his trailer the bike would barely roll. He took it back to the shop where they discovered their error. The had to replace one of the brake rotors which was bent when the rookie tightened the axle nut. Could have a very bad ending if my buddy had tried to ride the bike home.
Theory aside the bottom line regarding maintaining the same wheel rotation direction is to consider it a "best practice" maintenance item.