Wednesday, November 01, 2006
No, this isn't a horror story to go along with Halloween. At least, I hope it isn't. It's mostly about The Boston Celtics.
(I had to get something up here quickly to replace yesterday's piece. As you know if you read it, it had a very short shelf life. Anyone reading it today would be all confused and might get the impression that I'm a blithering idiot. And I don't blither at all, thank you.)
(By the way, I'd like to thank the always-delightful Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub for plugging that piece as well as others of mine. I am a member of Boston Blogs, which Adam started and for which you can find a link on the left of perhaps this very sentence, but probably a bit lower. Those ads you also see more-or-less to the southwest of here? All good sponsors of that organization and, by extension, of me and this blog, so you might like to visit one or two as you leave the premises of Suldog-O-Rama - plug, hint.)
Anyway, tonight is opening night for the 2006-2007 version of The Celtics. I root for a lot of local sports entities - Red Sox, Patriots, Boston College Eagles football team - but the Celtics are my strongest and most loyal interest. I've always considered them "my" team. I'll tell you why.
When I was growing up in Dorchester, I was the only kid in the neighborhood who liked basketball. Those of you familiar with the Dorchester of today might find that an unlikely statement, but it's 100% true. Nowadays, you can't swing a dead cat in Dorchester without hitting someone who loves hoops - not that I'd recommend doing that, by the way - but during my childhood, Dorchester was full of hockey fans. Even though the Celtics were winning multiple championships, I was the only kid who watched them and I was the only kid who owned a basketball.
I used to go down to Walsh Park two or three mornings every week during summer and shoot hoops by myself for a couple of hours. Nobody else ever wanted to play. Heck, on days when it was raining (or on mornings in the fall and winter when I had to be at school too early to allow time to go down to Walsh) I'd shoot baskets in my living room.
Well, since nobody else liked basketball, I used to go to Celtics games by myself, too. I'd buy a cheap seat ($2.00? Maybe $3.00) in the old second balcony of the Boston Garden six or eight times a year. From there, I'd watch the tops of my heroes heads as they trounced the likes of the Cincinnati Royals.
Even into my teens and early twenties, I was the only guy in the neighborhood who gave a damn about The C's. When Larry Bird came on the scene and everybody jumped on the Celtic's bandwagon, I had been there for 20 years. And, of course, all of those folks jumped off of the bandwagon quite a few years ago, so I'm somewhat alone again.
As a result of fiercely defending my fandom for many years, I bleed green. Proudly so. And, when the Celtics are back on top again, with the bandwagon filled to overcrowding, I'll have my seat, thanks, and I'll be enjoying the ride more than any of the Johnny-Havlicek-Come-Latelies.
If you've been with me a while, you know I started predicting good things for this team last year. I said that I expected them to contend for a championship within a year or two. I meant that and I'm not backing off of it. I think this team has a collection of young talent that can gel together into a consistently winning unit. They had last year to get to know each other and for Doc Rivers to figure out his rotations and roles. This year is when it starts to pay off.
I'll throw out an early prediction. The Celtics go 48 - 34, winning their division by a game or two over New Jersey. How far will they go in the playoffs? I don't think a championship is beyond reason, but I'm not going to outright predict one. I can see them going deep, as I expect they'll be meshing beautifully by the time the playoffs roll around, but I expect they probably need one more year together and, perhaps, one more piece of the puzzle. They're dedicating the season to the memory of Red Auerbach, of course, so maybe he'll be looking down and tipping in a key basket or two along the way :-)
(As I said over and over last year, all of my predictions are predicated upon Danny Ainge having the patience to let these guys work together and not making trades. For instance, if Al Jefferson is traded, all bets are off. If Al Jefferson is traded, Ainge should be hung by his balls on the Boston Common and passers-by given three swings of a baseball bat for a buck, but I'm sure he'll do no such thing. Please.)
So, that's it for today. Maybe more Celtics tomorrow; maybe something else. In the meantime, scroll back up, hit an ad if you're so inclined, and my mother thanks you for being such a nice playmate.