In late August of 2009 I was sitting on the deck of a restaurant in rural Cambodia, overlooking the South China Sea. I was helping teach English at a local school and made a quick day trip over to Kep, famous for its seafood, particularly the crabs which are caught below the deck of the restaurants, quickly grilled or steamed and served fresh, only minutes later. As I was enjoying my seafood with a cold beer, watching the sun disappear, I got to talking to two ex-pats from New Zealand. It turned out one of them was a Celtics fan, and a fairly knowledgeable one at that. We commiserated over the blunder that Danny Ainge had just made in not re-signing Leon Powe, who we both agreed was a key bench player during the championship run. "How did you become a Celtics fan?" I asked him. He talked about how he had just randomly started watching games (on in the mornings over there), and as a rugby player, he had come to admire their tenacity, toughness and grit.
Flash forward two years and I found myself spending the summer in the Philippines, working at a local NGO in Manila. Most people know the Philippines is a huge basketball country, but I was somewhat skeptical when I first showed up because it just didn't seem like people half a world away could feel connected to sports teams on the other side of the globe. But sure enough as I started getting to know people at the NGO and in my apartment building, I was blown away at the number of Filipinos who claimed the Celtics as their favorite team. We talked about Rondo's jump shot, Perkins going down and getting traded, and once again, the relentless drive and toughness that characterize these recent Celtics teams.
Anyways I don't know exactly where I'm going with this, other than to say as a Celtics fan, I can't describe how cool it is to have encounters like this. I'm also reminded of the World Cup game from 2010, I forget exactly which one, but the announcer, talking about how defensive-minded grind-it-out teams were making a comeback, referenced the Boston Celtics specifically, in saying this style of play was becoming popular in other sports too. NBA teams have come and gone, won championships, become dynasties, but even the most hardened anti-Boston sports fan would have to admit that these Celtics teams have been special in a way that others haven't. Now that it's probably over, I only hope people realize how special these years were, and how lucky we were to be able to watch them, highs and lows.