Never in my life had I found cause to be enthusiastic about sports. It was one of those undesirable and mysterious things that I looked askance at, incredulous at the unbending devotion of the sports fan. I didn’t understand how one picks a team or decides their affiliation, and most of all I marveled at the attention span required to watch any sports game. It was simply not interesting to me because I couldn’t muster the strength to sit through an entire game of anything. All that changed last year when I did two things. First, I moved to Boston, one of the cities with the most unambiguous sports affiliations of all time: The Red Sox and the Celtics. Those two teams are synonymous with Boston, and the people residing here are unequivocally in love. In fact, before the move it was said to me that I must now become a Red Sox fan, now that I would be living in the home of Fenway Park and the Red Sox Nation.
Then the second thing happened. The Celtics entered the NBA Finals and went up against the LA Lakers for the title. The mood was infectious and the whole city turned green. I got to know the players, watch the games with co-workers, talk about what was coming next, and be in town when the Celtics hosted the Lakers for Game 7 of the Finals and lost. The whole city took the loss personally, and now my intimate knowledge of the players and new found appreciation for the fast paced thrill of the game left me wanting more. I even had a favorite player, Ray Allen #20, who kept my attention in the pre-season as he went on to break NBA history shooting the most 3-pointers in a career, over 3,000.
Living in Boston required of me that I see a Celtics game, but now I wanted to go more then felt compelled to go. I finally took the plunge when Nate purchased two tickets as a birthday gift for me this year. I put on my Celtics t-shirt and as much green as I could muster. I was so excited I couldn’t believe I was going to see Ray “in person” and play live against the Washington Wizards, a team they were sure to beat. The game was at the TD Garden, a building I would walk by everyday and was now now finally able to enter, moving up to the balcony overlooking the court. It was incredibly steep and I was scared at first, but the atmosphere was a like a giant party- cheerful and raucous.
I felt like I was at a concert, music blaring, camera panning, people dancing like they were drunk, even if most probably were. The players were like rock stars, with a giant clock counting down until their arrival and backstage shots at them warming up, met with screams from the crowd. A spotlight anticipated their entrance as they finally came jogging out, and the crowd was egged on by a giant “noise-meter” that mockingly disregarded the hoarse throats being rapidly acquired. I was amused at the showmanship of the institution, who assumed that constant entertainment was a necessity. At any time-out, halftime, or other break, the music would start up again and the crowd would cheer as some fan competed for a free trip to Panama City, Fan of the Game, or a Lucky Lotto ticket. In fact, the row behind mine won the lucky row, and I found myself on the Jumbotron TV, helping the row behind me celebrate getting a lotto ticket. While I had an awesome time watching the game, the players, and celebrating the eventual win over the Wizards, it was a massive dose of cheeseball that I would have a hard time swallowing on a regular basis. In other words, it was a huge assault on my senses: but appropriate for an all out birthday celebration, a once a year thing to do. Go Celtics!