Last night provided me with my first opportunity to see the beloved C's in person this season, as I made the trek to Jersey for the 86-77 victory. Loved every minute of it, especially the 13-0 run to turn the game in the fourth quarter led by James Posey, Tony Allen, Ray Allen and two particular personal favorites: Eddie House and the Pugnacious Papoose. Not the team's best three quarters, but a great 23-9 performance to pull it out, to push the boys to 30-4 and to make yours truly a very happy camper.
That in mind, the time seems right to warn you that the countdown is on to a sappy post about how completely in love I am with this Celtics team. How much of a breath of a fresh air this team is on so many different levels. How the last few years have begun to feel worth it. And so on and so forth. I'm in love with this team; I can't help it, nor do I have any desire to do so.
So that piece is in the works, and the disclaimer to this piece is that I had a great night because I had the privilege to go to the game with people I enjoy spending time with, and the Celtics did their part. Nothing to take away from my night personally.
But having been to the Izod Center twice in the last eight days, it is time for some healthy venting about the trials and tribulations of being a game-attending fan. I tried to give the Nets and their fans the benefit of the doubt by partially writing off last Friday night's game as a match-up with the Bobcats, likely to draw little interest outside the NBA sickos who need all the pro ball they can get (myself most certainly included). Not the case. The game last night had greater attendance figures, but this was mostly because of the fantastically high quantity of C's fans present (Section 212 certainly didn't make me feel like I was at a road game; no complaints here). Twice in two weeks, it has been plainly evident that Nets fans don't show up, don't make a lot of noise and flat-out don't seem to care that much about their basketball team. Now, before the few diehards jump down my throat, I realize that certainly there will be some exceptions out there, but by and large, the Nets' home crowds are terrible. For a myriad of reasons -- see last week's Bobcats-Nets column for details -- the Izod Center has established itself as the provider of the worst atmosphere of any NBA arena I have attended.
So the stage is set: It's two o'clock on a Saturday morning. I'm coming off my second game in eight days at a terrible arena. And I have spent most of this past week monitoring my favorite forum thread in some time, on fans who should be banned from the Garden in Boston. Though I haven't commented, it has been a blast to read, so thanks to all who shared their thoughts on that topic. With all those factors in mind, it's time to unleash my list of the worst fans to encounter at professional basketball games. Feel free to write in and add your own pet peeves as well!
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- The person who turns around in his or her seat to give me the "I have half a mind to call an usher over" look every time I vocalize my sentiments on behalf of my team. We're not talking about swearing here. Just a loud, run-of-the-mill "D up!" or "Get a stop now, fellas!" or "What in the world possesses us to keep running the set that gives Perk the ball at the top of the key?!?!" Somehow, this happens both on the road and at home; it isn't even an issue of rooting for the opponent. Some people don't understand the concept that they are at a professional sporting event, which means that noise is part of the equation. Not obscene noise ncessarily. Just noise. Loudness. Din. Racket. Sonority. C'mon, folks. It's part of the program.
- The guy who sits in the middle of the row and needs to get out of his seat roughly 84 times over the course of the game. Yes, not everyone has that compulsion to make sure to see every single play of every game. Yes, getting some food and drink and making a few trips to the restroom is understandable. But when it becomes an every-other-possession type thing, there is a problem. Especially because it makes you feel like the jerk for having to continuously block the view of those behind you every time you have to get up for this guy, which, if you're in my camp on this, makes you feel particularly hypocritical because people getting up in front of you every other second is one of your pet peeves (more on this later). This particular type of fan becomes an exponentially more exasperating problem if he is one of the especially ungraceful types who is going to unwittingly end up breaking bones in your foot with each exit to parts unknown.
- The good folks who leave at the beginning of the fourth quarter to "beat traffic." You know how else you can avoid avoid traffic jams on game nights? By staying home.
- Here's something that probably happens at plenty of arenas in the 21st century but is a staple of the Izod Center more than anywhere else I have been: The fans that go crazy for any sort of "Make noise!" promo but can't be bothered to be vocal regarding, you know, the sideshow that is the professional basketball game that occasionally goes on between cheer-leading routines and acrobatic dunks by the mascot. At Izod, when the mascot runs out with a big flag that says "Noise!" the place erupts. When he does the same with a flag that says "Nets," the crowd is nonplussed. No, seriously. This actually happens.
- The parents of the kid in the row above you who spends the entire night kicking the back of your chair. The kid isn't the issue here. Kids are kids. For all the venting going on here, I would like to think of myself as a fairly easygoing guy, especially at sporting events, where I'm looking to have fun and to allow the people around me to do the same. So while it is irritating, hey, I can live with a few inadvertent kicks to my chair from an impulsive kid who doesn't know any better. Heck, I act like an impulsive kid more often than not. I'm not looking for the kid to be put in a straitjacket. But the parents who witness this all game and say nary a word drive me nuts.
- The guy who is so uncoordinated that he manages to clip me with his Thunderstix once every five or six times he attempts to bang them together.
- To expand on an earlier point, the person who can't seem to master the art of the getting up to let someone get out of their seat and then sitting down immediately after so as not to disturb the viewing of the game for fans sitting above him. This is the goofball who turns around and starts talking with the guy in the row behind him, or trying to shout his way through a conversation with someone a section over or simply ends up standing and gawking at nothing in particular while the game passes by him -- and all those behind who had an interest in seeing it.
- Similarly, this faction of people who seem to think that any cell phone call needs to be had standing up. What in the world makes this necessary?
Finally, the big two above all others:
- Anyone who thinks that the decorum at a sporting event should be equivalent to that of a funeral.
- By the same token but at the other end of the spectrum, anyone who heads down the treacherous road of defending his or her actions at a game with "This is a professional sporting event; I can say and do anything I want." Sorry, pal. Doesn't work that way either.