Some of my earliest memories have to do with the Celts and their seemingly habitual journey to the playoffs. We would gather--my family and me--around the TV with its intensely bad reception, eat chips and popcorn and, like many people, turn the box down and the radio up to hear the scratchy voice of Johnny Most. I have been to games where, as time went on and the team got older, we lost as much as we won, but I remember them today.
Well, not so much the games, really, but I remember dining on the North End before the game, and shaking hands with Bill Fitch as he was leaving Red’s office while I was going in and then shaking Red's hand. Dad says McHale and Parish were there, too, but all I could see were their knees. In the office Bob Cousy grabbed me by the shoulders and growled “Hey kid, who’s gonna win?” I told him, too. I kid you not. It really happened just like that and my Dad didn’t pass out.
I remember where we sat in the real Boston Garden. Sometimes close to the front, sometimes farther back. I remember coming out of the bathroom once to vociferous applause only to find that John Havlicheck was on his way to the concession stand to buy a hot dog. One time we sat way up top behind a steel pillar and two old Irish guys spilled beer down my shirt while yelling “Put Danny in!” Now, whenever I see Danny Ainge in that suit and tie. all I can think of is cheap alchohol.
Those were the days before college. I sort of drifted away after Len Bias. That was really the beginning of the end for me. It was a tragedy that made the game too real in many ways. I watched a few times since, but not very often. I briefly had a return to fandom when one Antoine Walker arrived for the first time. But that was it. Since then its been cold turkey...nothing.
Yesterday, however, I watched Antoine once more and remembered why basketball was my first love in the world of sport. It was exciting. I cheered. I even convinced myself that Paul Pierce was cruelly persecuted when he elbowed that other guy in the face! I have followed the Patriots, of course, even during the embarrassing years of Mr. Kiam. I am part of a culture that worships the sacred soil of Fenway Park. But still, there is nothing like the Boston Celtics.
Now, I’m not saying I’m a fanatic reborn or anything. I’m NOT online today trying to buy tickets to Game 7. TD BankNorth just doesn’t cut it for me. Still, I may watch the game and who knows? When the Super Bowl ends, there may just be a reason to turn on the TV and turn up the radio.