I'm a Celtics fan.
Kind of says it all, doesn't it?
Of all the titles, prefixes, degrees, names, and monikers afforded us in this life, that very simple one sure takes on a bit of extra import after a night like this.
I mean, to anyone watching that game tonight, there should be no doubt about just what that means, and what kind of positive connotations and significance that phrase carries.
I've been watching the Celtics, (and other sports, for that matter), for many years, and I have never seen that before.
No matter what team it is, or what building the game is in, when a team is being blown out by 20 points in such an important game, invariably the boos will arise, catch on, and persist.
I have never seen a game where the home team was being dominated like that, and the fans chanted "Let's go (Celtics)!" over-and-over, and continued it until after the game was over, and the team had left the floor.
I am not an openly emotional person, but despite the fact that I was watching with others, that really, really got to me.
It reminded me just what being a Celtic fan is all about, and why when people talk about Celtic pride and spirit, it is taken so seriously, and felt so deeply.
This club really does have the best fans in the world, and that was clearly evident in that building this evening ... if this team doesn't have one of the best games of their entire run together on Saturday, I will be shocked to the core.
That's the kind of thing these guys live for, and the kind of inspiration that will reach deep into their beings, and provide a spark like no other.
Whatever happens from here on out, I am sooooooooooo proud to be a Celtic fan, and so proud of this team and the character and tenacity and heart that have shown to the world during this run.
If nothing else, they have silenced the doubters, shaken the haters, and reminded us all just exactly what it means to be part of this Celtics Nation, and what is required of anyone who puts on that jersey.
IMHO, this is the best basketball team in the world, because it's not only talented and hard-working, it epitomizes all the abilities required to be a great player, and all the intangibles possessed of a great team.
Tonight the fans reflected that heart and character ... they had to, because that's what they've been given time and time again by this over-achieving, injury-plagued, never-say-die, incredibly prideful bunch of athletes.
I love this team, and I'm as proud as I've ever been right now to be a Celtic fan.
Nobody knows what the future will bring, but after that reaction by the crowd tonight, I can guarantee you that this team will fight as hard as they ever have on Saturday night.
The boys were down tonight, way down, whether from exhaustion or just being out-of-sync, it matters not ... it happens, to every team, despite the best of intentions.
But the amazingly supportive Celtic fans were there beside them, (along with Red's spirit), ever-ready to lift their boys up high on their shoulders, and let them know that no matter what, their love and support was still as strong as ever.
I know with certainty that that love and support will be returned on Saturday night, and regardless of the outcome, our beloved team will give their all, for us ... and that's really all any of us could ever ask for.
They've already won a championship of sorts this year in my mind, as have the Celtics' faithful, and if there's any balance in the Universe, and any justice granted by the fates, number eighteen will not be long to follow.