I love the Celtics. Everyone who knows me, knows this. But how did it all start? Well thanks to a videogame and a few get-togethers with my cousins and brothers, my affection for the Green clover team began.
Me and my cousins would play NBA Live on the PS1 and PS2 all the time, and I mean always! Back then, in 2003 I didn't know who I liked so I just kept on randomizing my team just so I can play the game. I went from using the Kings, to the Pistons, to the Rockets (That Yao Ming cheat!), to even my own created team! I did that method for about a year. I didn't know much about the players but I liked the sport, that's for sure. I knew I had to find a team soon but it wasn't arriving, nobody seemed appealing or was able to capture my heart...
Until once I caught a live game that had this green colored team in it. 4th quarter and they were down by 6 or 7 I can't remember. There was a player who just dribbled past Tinsley, made a stepback, hit a 3 AND got fouled for a potential 4 point play. And that man was Paul Pierce, who immediately got back up to complete the play. From then on, I knew which team I would follow - it was the Celtics. (And Pierce would become my most favorite player... ever!)
Yes, just like that! I started following them and I was always interested in what their results were and I would as much as possible catch their games live. To wake up early to see the Celtics live was never a problem. And when I couldn't, heck I would even use my phone credit to go on the net to check their scores.
And back to that game with Indiana. Although we lost big time, I supported the Celtics eversince. Actually, I guess I got the Celtic fever at a time when they were just about to go downhill. We were in a state of 'fallen from grace' during those years. We had Antoine Walker as our veteran and a young Pierce leading the team. Amazingly, we made the Playoffs during that season. Our comeback in 2002 against the Nets in game 3 of the Playoffs is considered one of the greatest comebacks in Playoff history (that record was broken ourselves in game 4 of the 2008 Finals). And in 2004 we won the Atlantic Division and I remember celebrating like silly! But we ended up losing the first round to those damn Pacers again. And unfortunately those set of events were the last great moments we had...
Believe me, the Celtics were horrific, no they were tragic before the big 3 combined in the summer of 2007. We were experiencing a transitional period, a period no team wants to be part of. We had an abysmal record in 2006 I remember. An 18-game losing streak, second worst record and Pierce was out for a long time. That same year, the legend that was Red Auerbach passed away. It was the worst season I have ever been a part of. We had mediocre players such as Olowokandi, Dickau, McCants and even Allan Ray (yes, NOT Ray Allen - you can google this guy up).
All that changed when Ray Ray and KG joined together in the off-season. Man I was feeling euphoric! I thought Ray Allen being part of the team was great news already. I wouldn't mind the whole season watching the Pierce-Ray tandem. But then a few days later, the arrival of KG just blew the town apart! (although we did give up almost everyone for him) I couldn't believe it, but it was happening. That sight of KG holiding up his new number on the white and green jersey of the Celtics is an iconic picture I can't ever forget. The posters, t-shirts, trailers, all types of merchandise and forms of media were used to promote the Big 3 and I sure as hell was pumped up for the upcoming season. Green nation had officially started! In our opener, we played the Wizards and they were actually decent. But we eventually came up with the victory. We turned that 24-58 pathetic record from last season into a 66-16 best in the league record. What a remarkable achievement for everyone involved!
We made the Playoffs as the best seed and although the Hawks, Cavs (including an epic game 7), and Pistons pushed us all the way, we reached the Finals for the first time since God knows when against the Lakers of all teams. A match made in heaven. And yes for your information, even if Pierce 'faked' his injury, being the captain he did what he needed to do - motivate the team and take the all-crucial game 1 lead. We all know what happened next. Banner #17 baby! And definitely I had to celebrate like a lunatic again! I was on a vacation on an island I can't remember but I made sure I caught the whole series on TV. My world would literally stop just to watch them and pray at the same time.
In the next season opener, the rings were awarded to the players and the banner was raised. The moment Pierce received his championship ring, it was a moment where I couldn't control my emotions. He completely deserved it. All those hardships and losings you go through as a fan, all that is for a reason. This quote sums it up perfectly "The reason for appreciation than when you do win it, everything bottled up, everything you've accumulated in those times of heartache, when you win you're able to let those things out" - Kevin Garnett. See?
Yeah I love the Celtics and I know I always will, even when Pierce retires. And I know that Pierce has left for Brooklyn but there's nothing in this world that would make me change my allegiance for another team. I can only imagine how much crazier of a fan I would be if I was born and lived in Boston. I would probably watch them live as much as possible and paint my house green. For now however, I'm just happy seeing the Celtics being relevant again. The 2008 championship team gave us fans something that was lost for a long time - pride of being a Celtics fan. And if ever they go back down to the depths of the NBA's worst teams, I'll still be there.
To all my cousins and brothers, thank you very much for letting me play that videogame. It's what made me find Pierce and made me fall in love with the Celtics.
PS. And their history alone says it all, they are just a fantastic organization. Cousy, Russell, Parish, McHale, Havlicek, Bird and soon to be... Paul Pierce. Did I mention I love the Celtics?
How about you guys?