National / Sports / May 22, 2008

All aboard the bandwagon

Don’t worry, I took my seat quite some time ago. Call me what you will, but I am officially claiming whatever meager percentage of Irish that is running in my veins. I will be the first to admit that I have never been a Celtics fan. I wasn’t even alive for 99 percent of the famed Lakers-Celtics series, and despite knowing the outcome as I watch the replays, I cheer for Magic Johnson every time. I was three months old when Magic hit that baby sky-hook in the lane in game four of the ’87 finals, yet I still cheered my little baby ass off as the Celtics went down.

That era of the Los Angeles Lakers is the only team I ever consider to have even challenged the popularity of Michael Jordan’s Bulls (and even they fall well short). L.A. was glamorous during that day and Magic was the aptly named star that led them in a manner that only a man named Magic could. The Celtics were all rough and tumble. Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and ohdeargod Bill Walton. And yes, they had Larry Bird, but honestly, and I realize how ridiculous this is, but I think it was the mustache that ruined it for me. Divine humor is the only explanation for how a man named Bird actually draws such striking resemblance to that very creature, but the mustache was just too much. Never mind the fact that he was the greatest un-athletic athlete to ever play the game, disregard all the championships and MVP awards; birds don’t have mustaches, and for the sake of all those trying to be serious and watch the game, he shouldn’t have been able to rock one either.

So there. I hope I have clearly conveyed my lack of history for being a Celtics fan. And now I will tell you why I love them so much now. I am fully aware that I am breaking every rule, unspoken or otherwise, in regards to claiming fan-hood for an organization. I’m in a lose/lose here, as all opposed kick me on the way in and all the green and white at heart don’t want to let me in. But I know I’m not alone. I know there are more like me out there, and I’m telling you that it’s okay to open up and embrace it. You are not alone. Says the man getting pummeled from both sides… But seriously, what is there not to be excited about? The only team to ever have more star power, albeit aging, than this year’s Boston Celtics was the Lakers squad that saw Karl Malone’s final attempt at a championship fall short. Getting shafted in last year’s lottery was the greatest mishap in the history of the Celtics organization. Sure you miss out on an injured Greg Oden and a good, not yet great Kevin Durant; then all of a sudden, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett fall into Danny Ainge’s lap. Suddenly three of my favorite players are all on one team. And get this: Paul Pierce is not one of them.

Not since Jesus Shuttlesworth have I been this excited about Ray Allen (All of you scratching your head, shame on you. Time to bone up on your Spike Lee Joints). Ray Allen has legitimately been my favorite player since sixth grade. His presence has fluctuated over the years, especially considering his reserved nature despite his star quality, but nevertheless, Allen is all class and silky to the touch. I remember reading a profile about him in Sports Illustrated that focused a great deal on his off-the-court life and his love for the arts. Floored may be a bit much, but after hearing him articulate his artistic tastes to a startling degree, followed by a list of favorite literature, I was hooked. And foreals, dude is not half-bad as an actor. Hardworking and humble amongst a wealth of talent, Ray Allen is the class.

Find me one person that dislikes Kevin Garnett, and then watch me punch both of you; that person for such foolishness, and you for even wanting to find such a person. One of the preeminent straight-out-of-high-school success stories, Garnett is one of the most impressive players this league has ever seen. All these accounts are going to include some kind of first-love experience, and Garnett is no different. I remember listening to my friend talk about this kid who was about to make the jump to the pros who, before every game he warms up by jumping and placing a quarter on top of the backboard and then bounding right back up and snatching it back. Absolutely ridiculous, totally unnecessary, 100 percent intimidation. Can you imagine being the 17 year-old on the other side of the court, witnessing the flaunting of freakish talent that you were about to face? Hilarious.

So I say to my friend, “the guy can jump, so what?” And then I saw him play. Ability and effort are what Garnett is composed of, and that doesn’t come close to doing him justice. The things that make him the leader that he is make him sound like a buffet in the land of Oz (Heart, smarts, and courage, get it? Yes! Score one for the cornball.); and while Chicago will always be home for Garnett, he seems to be settling into Boston quite nicely.

So if my top-three isn’t one of The Big Three, who’s left? If there were an award for most fortunate player of the year, Rajon Rondo would win a hundred times over. Wrongfully stuck behind an over hyped Sebastian Telfair all last year, June 31 marked the day that would change Rondo’s life forever. Rondo went from a back-up role feeding Wally Szczerbiak and Allan Ray, to running the backcourt while looking at the world of options that Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen create.

So where’s the story? What could possibly make this guy that most thought would be a back-up at best, one of my favorite players? Me and Rondo go way back, that’s what. Okay, so we’re not like best friends or anything but… Alright, so maybe I just played against him a few times in high school, but that’s legit right? Fine, so I didn’t do anything against him, but at least I didn’t get killed, that has to count for something doesn’t it? Whatever… Seriously though, I was upset when he left Kentucky for Oak Hill, but dude had to get his shine on, so whatever. He eventually came back, played at UK and had a nice career, and then got drafted by the Celtics. Damn. Tough luck Rondo. Enjoy sub .500 seasons for the next ten to 15. At least you got to the league, right? Someone must be smiling down on my boy, because instead of fighting for a winning record, Rondo very well might be fighting for a ring come June. So big ups kid, do your thing. Just remember that time when I got that rebound over you, and also that time that I almost blocked your shot. I would have too, if it wasn’t for that whole clubbing you in the head thing. My bad… Yeah. That was me.

Ryan Cash

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