Sports

How I Became A Celtics Fan

By Chris Johnson
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Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Six

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

I am not a fan of Boston teams.  In fact, growing up I mainly cheered for New York teams like the Giants and the Yankees, and the first hockey game I ever went to was the Islanders.  Growing up in North Carolina we didn’t have the professional sports teams until the Hornets came here, so I looked to the Big Apple to pledge my loyalties.  One of the first Super Bowls I can remember was Super Bowl XXI when the Phil Simms-led Giants beat the Broncos, and then four years later when Jeff Hostetler filled in and they won again.  Side note: Hostetler had one of the best stashes in sports and I challenge you to find me a Super Bowl-winning quarterback with a better stashe.  Anyway, there is a point that I am trying to make, and I am going a round about way of getting to it, but as a fan of New York teams you are bred to be anti-New England/Boston.  So why am I sporting green tonight as if I spent my childhood in Hyde Park?

Look, it’s easy to hate Boston teams no matter what fan base you back.  The Patriots and their dominance in the AFC is enough to make you sick along with Tom Brady, cut-off sweat shirts, spy-gate, the tuck rule… I could go on and on.  I wasn’t a big fan of the Larry Bird-led Celtics back in the day.  I respected him as a player, but I was always a Jordan fan and didn’t care much for what was going on in Boston.  As a Yankees fan I despise the Red Sox and everything they stand for.  It made me sick when Boston broke the World Series draught, especially at the expense of the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, particularly when the Yanks were up three in the series and somehow the Sox pulled one out to take the series and eventually the championship. Now, since then my allegiances have mostly switched to North Carolina teams: the Panthers, Bobcats(wish they were Hornets), and so on.  However, there is still a special place in my heart for my New York teams. With all that being said, you can see that backing the leprechauns tonight is no easy task – in fact, it goes against my moral fiber.

But why?  Well, I wish that answer were simple, but it is a multi-faceted answer.  First off, the answer is LeBron.  I have never in my life wished that one athlete would fail so badly.  When LeBron was in Cleveland I had no problem with him.  He was a hometown hero who brought a failing franchise and quite frankly a horrible sports city into relevance, if not prominence.  I don’t necessarily like Cleveland, but it was a good story and one you could get behind.  Then came “The Decision,” an hour long special that basically told everyone LeBron James is so desperate for a championship that he will turn his back on the city that raised, supported, loved and endured him.  He became an instant villain right in front of your eyes with the simple statement, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”  It was like watching your favorite wrestler turn heel ala’ Shawn Michaels when he broke up the Rockers and superkicked Marty Jannetty through a window.  There is this sense of shock and bewilderment that comes over you, like, why would he do that?  Not to mention that statement itself – “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” Who says something like that? Why couldn’t you just go and have a press conference and say that you have decided to play for Miami and go on with your business just like everyone else.  Instead you have an hour-long show in prime time on ESPN so that we can watch you take a proverbial dump on Cleveland as well as sportsmanship by putting together this super team with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  You are arguably the best person in your respective sport but you couldn’t go out and win a ring on your own.  No, you had to go put together this squad that feels like it was thought out on cocktail napkins over bottles of Dom in some VIP booth of some posh night club in Miami.  Look, we all like to make up these make-believe teams in fantasy sports and Playstation, but we don’t appreciate it when we feel like the athletes get together and plan it on their own.

Then there was this: as if we didn’t have every analyst and talking head on TV to tell us how good of a team this is, we needed you to come out and have this over-the-top pep rally that looks something like the opening of a Jay-Z concert to tell us how good you are.  Then the three of you sitting up there on bar stools telling us that you are going to win not one, not two, not three, but seven world titles.  Yeah, I had a problem with this.  First of all, you don’t have the entire team out there, its just Chris Bosh who is sitting up there like he is the odd man out.  He looks like the guy that the in-crowd kids in high school let hang around because he is big and he can back you up when you talk down to others and spew about how great you are.  Then with Wade and LeBron up there with him, you can actually watch them thinking to themselves, “Wait, whose team is this, I’m the leader, right?”  No team, just these three guys having a celebration not because they have won anything but basically just to celebrate themselves.  It was a complete disgusting example of humanity.  So there is the hatred for LeBron and the Heat.

Then there is also the Sports Guy.  Now anyone who knows me or has read my past blogs can tell you that I have something of a man crush on Bill Simmons.  The guy is sports smart, knows his stuff, great writer, twitter master, the innovator of the podcast, and alas Boston super fan.  Now as much as I like Bill Simmons his love for everything Beantown has never swayed me to like any other team from Boston.  I still have a disdain for the Patriots, I cheer for the Red Sox to lose, and if given the choice I would take any other hockey team over the Bruins most days of the week.  So how has Simmons convinced me to cheer for the Celtics?  Well, the man is almost a historian of the Celtics from the early 80’s on.  If you have ever read his books or listened to the BS Report you can hear him tell stories of growing up and going to the Garden with his dad and watching greats like Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish.  He talks of Celtic history like Bill Russell and Red Auerbach.  He talks about a franchise that I one day wish we can sit back and look at the Bobcats and talk like that about.  Look, I know Charlotte is a long way from that, but I can dream can’t I?  The Celtics are a franchise that even if you don’t necessarily like them you have to respect them.  It is my admiration for hard work and sportsmanship that is making me start to adore this Boston team.

Now you might be able to argue, “Wait Chris, don’t the Celtics have their own big three, didn’t they try to put together a super team in order to win a bunch of championships?”  Sure they do, but the situation with Boston is far different from what is going on in Miami.  First off, the Celtics put together their team by moves in management and making smart decisions.  Paul Pierce was drafted by the Celtics in ‘98, and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were acquired through mega trades involving several players and first round draft picks.  None of these guys had championships – in fact, other than Kevin Garnett no one would argue that they were even the best at their position in the NBA.  The Celtics team was put together by Danny Ainge – it wasn’t like Garnett, Allen and Pierce got together and were like, “Hey let’s all go play in Boston.”  The Celtics team feels like the result of good basketball moves, not back-door politics.

With all this being said, I have come to the decision that I am adopting the Boston Celtics as my adopted NBA team.  I am going to be a supporter of the green and white, and tonight I hope they put on a show that will be talked about for ages.  I hope that years from now we tell our kids stories of how the 2012 Celtics marched into Miami underdogs and brought the NBA finals to Boston in one of the greatest games in NBA history.  I hope this game leads to the eventual demise and off season moves of the Miami Heats big three.  I hope this game leads to a discouraged scowl on Lebron’s face during his post game press conference.  Maybe we could even get a nice locker room interview from Dwayne Wade while he wears a cardigan and women’s glasses with no lenses in them.  In fact that idiotic look pretty much sums up what I think about the Heat: all style no substance.  So tonight I cheer on the Celtics, and now I am off to get a twelve pack of Sam Adams.

As always feel free to send me your thoughts, praise and hate mail to cjohnsonwfnz@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Sports Radio 610 AM WFNZ The Fan.

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