Today is a critical day for the two sides in this NBA labor battle. If there isn't significant progress today and into the weekend, there will be games cancelled. Once games start getting cancelled both sides take their offers off the table and start over. That could mean a long, long lockout and potentially even a lost season. All this you already know. How do I know that? Because you are here. Most of you are here every day, despite the complete lack of anything basketball related to report.
This is my written tip of the hat to you. My quiet but sincere nod of the head. I am not saying this to create class warfare between the "true" diehards and the "fairweather fans." In fact, I want to stick up somewhat for the (I'll call them generic) fans out there.
I consider myself a typical or "generic" fan of the Red Sox. I think 98% of the world would call me a die hard. I've followed the team since I was in 6th grade. I remember the Buckner ball, Morgan's Magic, Pedro pitching in relief, the Nomar trade, and so on and so forth. I wore my Ted Williams jersey to a store after the Sox lost game 3 to the Yankees in 2004, got taunted by a New York fan who worked at the store, and ... I'd like to say I showed mature constraint, but the truth is I just didn't see him there the next time I went to that store. Oh well.
I just read that Tom Brady article in ESPN the Mag and laughed at the section where they describe a typical die hard Sox fan's hat. Falling apart from years of use, curved over the eyes, faded into an odd shade of grey. My wife exclaimed, "that's your hat!" She's right, I've got one and (no exaggeration) anywhere I go all over the world, every time I wear it someone comments on it (usually in a positive way).
But I still don't consider myself a die hard. I went to bed the other night when the rain delay happened. I wasn't even watching the game, just following it on ESPN casually. I know there are season ticket holders out there reading this that were on the edge of their seats with every pitch. There are stat heads and raido show callers and bloggers and devout message board junkies out there that I'd call die hards.
And that's you and me when it comes to the Celtics. We don't just wear Celtics hats or t-shirts just because we casually like the team. We wear them because our families know how much we obsess over the team and if they can't think of anything else to get us, they know we'll always like something Celtics related. We don't ignore whole months of the regular season because "the games don't really count till the playoffs." Every game matters. Every game tells a unique story. Even if playoff positioning is locked in stone, we know there is value to be gained in playing out the string (to keep legs in rhythm and get new guys extra reps).
And we don't check out when there's a work stoppage. We don't just toss up our hands and say "wake me when it is over, I'll just follow the Sox and Pats and wait for the Bruins (or any other sport/team affiliation you hold). We keep coming back to this site to see old friends that we've never met in person but cherish just the same. We look for topics to discuss just so we get a small wisp of that rush that comes from watching our beloved team. We come back every day ...well, just because we want to.
The NBA lives and breathes because of us, but at the same time they know they don't have to pander to us. We're hooked. The league doesn't have to "win us back" because we're already here, waiting for them to get their act together. What they risk with this work stoppage is losing the casual fans. The generic fans that buy the gear and follow along but don't live and die by it. The league could lose a lot with a prolonged work stoppage, but they'll never lose us.
The Red Sox epic collapse hurts me but not like game 7 against the Lakers a couple years ago. Nothing like that. When you are a diehard, you die, ...hard. It hurts. And when your team and your game is taken away from you, that hurts too.
So I just wanted to stop and take a moment to look around at the folks that are here right now and raise my glass in toast. We are all on the edges of our seats today. Waiting and watching the events unfold as if it was the 4th quarter of a game 7. We don't like all this lawyer talk and negotiation propaganda, but we can't look away either. This is what we do.
Thank you all for everything. For making this site possible. For being here all summer, keeping me somewhat sane. Thanks.