Eric Neel has some stuff to get off his chest on ESPN's Page 2.
I hate the Celtics. I hate the green. I hate Bill Russell's mannered little goatee. I hate Red's cigar. I hate Bird's mullet. I hate the leprechaun. I hate the stupid floor. I hate Don Nelson and his lucky bounce. I hate M.L. Carr and his towel. And I hate Danny Ainge and his pout most of all....
When the Lakers lost to Boston last week in a hail of boos and "Beat L.A." chants, I was miserable, angry, alone in my office, not cleared, as my wife said, "for human contact." But the feeling didn't linger as it should have, didn't ruin my weekend the way I wanted it to. I couldn't quite hold a grudge against these Celtics.
I hate myself for that, for not hating them quite enough, for feeling the hate slowly ebb out of me. I can't bear to think of what Gail Goodrich would think of me now.
I hate myself for playing back Saturday night's last-second Allen 3-pointer to beat Charlotte. Three times. I hate myself for setting the DVR to record Tuesday's game against Cleveland. And the Thursday game against the Knicks, too. I hate myself for thinking, even if the Lakers don't get there to meet them, that it would be pretty cool if this team can sustain its energy, stay healthy and make the Finals.
No, it's worse than that. It's not simply a matter of self-loathing. That would be easy enough to weather. Hell, I'm a writer; self-loathing is part of the job. It's not that I hate myself.
It's that when I watch these Celtics do their thing, with a smile on my face, I don't even know who I am.