Bill Simmons has taken a lot of heat from Celtics Nation this year, and especially so last week when he seemed to take measured glee in predicting a Lakers victory and doubted Kevin Garnett’s ability to make That ESPN Guy Formerly Known As The Boston Sports Guy change his mind. So I was skeptical when I started reading his column this morning, to say the least.
However, I was pleasantly surprised when I read his first-hand account of The Cs’ game one victory last night, and reminded of just how much I enjoy his writing when he’s able to channel The Moment. I was especially struck by how these two paragraphs so neatly and succinctly sum up the last 21 years for Celtics fans:
Since this had been such an impossibly tough ticket, the happy-to-be-there factor was through the roof. For season-ticket holders who shelled out sizable checks annually for a never-ending edition of crappy teams — like my father, for instance — you could see the vindication in their eyes. This is why I kept my tickets. For everyone working for the Celtics since the unfathomably cold, clumsy and impersonal Paul Gaston era — like my buddy Sully, for instance — you could see the relief in their eyes. This is why I kept working for them. For the fans who kept supporting the Celtics from Reggie Lewis’ death through the reprehensible tank job last season — a 14-year stretch that had fewer highlights than Pauly Shore’s IMDB.com profile page — you could see the collective twinkle in their eyes. This is why I kept watching. And for the wealthy fans who didn’t care about the Celtics as much as flexing their financial/social muscles so they could show up to either be seen or tell other people they went — and there were more than a few of them — you could see the satisfied look in their eyes. This is why I worked so hard to become successful.
(By the way, I hate those people. Passionately. Thursday night, the guys sitting next to me showed up halfway through the second quarter, spent the rest of the quarter taking pictures and saying things like, “Dude, check out Kobe,” disappeared at halftime and re-emerged during the third quarter with bags from the Celtics’ gift shop. From there, they proceeded to put on brand-new Celtics jerseys — one had Garnett, the other had Pierce — only they reacted happily every time Kobe did something. Thanks for coming, guys. It’s also worth mentioning that some soulless Boston fan sold his two courtside seats right next to the Boston bench to two obnoxious L.A. fans who wore yellow Lakers jerseys and were hopefully beaten up after the game. I have stopped trying to figure out professional sports in the 21st century. I give up.)
And by the way, I too have seen those Kobe fans dressed in other colors than that wretched purple and gold. Living here in Portland and attending the occasional Blazers game (including, I might add, the last playoff appearance of Shaq & The Kobes in our fair city, wherein crummy old Robert Horry broke another home team crowd’s heart with yet another, inexplicably-left-wide-open-in-the-corner 3) has given me more than a few opportunities to watch them jump on the all-too-predictable Lakers bandwagon in May and June this past decade. I am still leery of how much southern California smog Simmons has been breathing the past few years, but I’m happy to say that I don’t see him on that rickety old wagon again this time around.