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Are Celtics Fans Obnoxious?

We are only 27 games into the season and the team has as many wins this year (24) as it did all last year.  That kind of turnaround is enough to make any fan base get a little bit giddy.  But there's a growing sentiment around the country that Celtics fans are getting on people's nerves.

Basketball blogs are picking up on it, from Sactown Royalty, to Fanhouse, to Deadspin and so forth.  Celtics fans are somehow the new target for scorn.

So what's the deal?  Are we really that obnoxious?  For the most part, I've found Celtics fans and in particular ones on this site to be well educated, thoughtful, passionate, and respectful fans.  With that said, even I can see how this fan base might be rubbing people the wrong way.  Here are some reasons why this perception seems to be growing.

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Too Much Too Soon

Every fan who has watched his team slowly build up their team to compete over the years only to tear it down and try again is ingrained to respect the "pay your dues" mentality.  The Pistons had to get past the Celtics.  The Bulls had to get past the Pistons, and so on.  This Celtics team was the 2nd worst in the league last year and sits atop the standings 2 months into the season.  They don't think we "deserve" a championship team and they are just chomping at the bit to say "I told you so" if/when the team ultimately fails.

Bandwagon Jumpers

I don't have any inherent problems with bandwagon jumpers showing up to cheer on the Celtics.  The more the merrier and a percentage of those new fans will become lifers just like I did as a kid in the 80's.  The problem is the new fans don't always know how to act.  In many cases, a bandwagon fan will flaunt his new team's success to fans of other teams.  They will come across as arrogant and cocky (as if they did anything to help the team win these games).

Pats/Sox Carryover

The nation has had ample time to get sick and tired of hearing about the Patriots and Red Sox.  Both can brag of multiple championships this decade and both are falling into the Duke and Yankees category of easy-to-hate organizations.  That is fine, because those teams have the rings to justify the envy.  The Celtics haven't had a chance to win a championship yet.  But because the timing of their early success coincides with the success of the other Boston area teams, their fans are lumped into the "Boston fans" category, even if not all Celtics fans root for the Sox and Pats.

East Coast Bias

When the Suns got Steve Nash and put everything together to become a powerhouse regular season team, the league and its fans noticed.  They enjoyed the style of play and for the most part didn't mind seeing their fan base enjoy their team.  I would submit that their fan base had just as many bandwagon fans (relative to the size of their previous fan base) show up as the Celtics have.  Yet they didn't feel the wrath of the nation.  What gives?  East Coast Bias.

Nothing stirs the national media like big news in the Boston and New York (and to a lesser extent in Philly, DC, and other East coast cities).  To know why, you only have to look at the population plotted on a map of the US.  What happens on the West coast often happens after the East goes to bed.  What happens on the East coast gets shoved down the rest of the country's throats.  It just happens.


When I other teams' watch games on NBA League Pass, I'm almost always struck by how boring the announcers are.  When other teams' fans watch Celtics games, they are shocked by how loud and homerish Tommy Heinson is.  His target audience is Celtics fans, but more and more non-C's fans are getting the CSN feed and are put off by it.

Lots and Lots of Blogs

Last year, when the team stank out loud and even well before we thought they might get a top pick, the Celtics had more blogs than any other team in the league.   Those blogs have only gotten busier since the team picked up Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  The blogs range from intelligent, to funny, to odd, and everything in between.  If you look at some of the blog tracking sites like BallHype or YardBarker, you'll also notice that Celtics bloggers might be creating as many posts as the entire Southeastern conference.  Even if everything we had to say was brilliant you can't blame people for getting a little sick of it all.

So What?

So we've established the fact that there are plenty of reasons why the rest of the world is annoyed with Celtics fans.  The next question that comes to mind is "do we care?"

For one thing, the only actions one person can control is his or her own.  We can't change how fans treat the people around them.  People will (in large part) be treated with the same amount of respect that they give others.

In addition, maybe a little swagger isn't a bad thing.  Red Auerbach used intimidation and arrogance as an effective weapon against opponents.  It wasn't just the team or the coach, but the Garden was filled with fans that got loud and expected the opponents to be pounded to dirt.  That is starting to happen again as the Banknorth Garden crowd is making a whole lot of noise (even without being prompted by the ubiquitous jumbotron exhortations).

I would go so far as to say the Boston and Los Angeles fan bases helped their teams save the NBA in the 80's.  It was a clash of styles and images that played perfectly to the media's coverage of the rivalry.  Both fan bases were rightfully confident in their teams and had a swagger about them that other fans envied.

I'm not going to go all Gordon Gekko on you and claim that 'arrogance is good, arrogance is right.'  Not at all.  I preach respect and even though I'm not perfect, I try to practice what I preach.  However, there's a fine line between arrogant and confident.  I can't imagine a passionate fanbase of a successful team being anything less than confident.  Who cares what others may think?  Be loud, be proud, be yourself Boston fans.

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