A Sports Fan's Dilemma

Jorge CastilloCorrespondent IJune 17, 2008

I am a New York Yankees fan. A pretty big one too.

I grew up going to Yankee Stadium, watching Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera demonstrate greatness and Scott Brosius and Chad Curtis adding enough to win championships (I'm 19, so that's growing up for me).

So you're probably thinking, "OK, and...?".

First, I'm from Massachusetts. 

Not from Boston, but Worcester, the second most-populated city in New England, located about 45 minutes from Beantown. So, in effect, it's Red Sox Nation. 

Second, I'm a Boston Celtics fan.

Now you're probably thinking, "What the ****?"

Yup, I know. Most people probably don't think it's possible, nor allowed. But I'm going to tell you how it happened. It's pretty simple.

I became a Yankees fan through my parents. They were both born in New York City before each moved to Puerto Rico within 6 months. When they came back to the states, they landed in New Jersey with family, and as a result became Yankee fans.

It just so happens that they moved to Massachusetts, had kids, and took them to Yankee Stadium instead of Fenway Park. 

So I grew up a Yankee fan and it's pretty hard not to; they're the greatest franchise in professional sports. But that didn't translate to other sports and it's pretty easy as to why — I didn't grow up watching the Knicks, Giants, or Jets because my parents weren't big basketball or football fans.

With basketball I've always been a fan of players rather than teams, but if I were to pick a team as my favorite (after Michael Jordan's retirement) it would be the Celtics. 

The first NBA game I attended was a Celtics game. I grew up watching Rick Pitino bitch at press conferences and Antoine Walker doing his shimmy. 

But it wasn't because they played in Boston and I lived in Massachusetts. Boston could be further than New York as far as I was concerned — I've been in New York more than I've been in Boston. It was the team I watched on TV and followed.

But like I said, I've always been more of a favorite-player-kind-of-guy when it comes to basketball. And there are three for me.

First, there's Carmelo Anthony. I've always had an infatuation with Syracuse basketball and that was reinforced when I watched 'Melo at the 'Cuse — and it didn't hurt that I won some money in my NCAA Tournament pool by picking the Orange to cut the nets down.

Second, Paul Pierce. I've watched this guy for ten years now and I've always thought he was one of the most underrated players in the league. He's been a low-key player without much flash but one with All-Star numbers year in and year out.

Then there's my number one man — Kevin Garnett. For some reason, I fell in love with a guy who played in Minnesota, didn't go to college, and couldn't get it done in the postseason. 

I can remember in elementary school one day, we were playing basketball and each of us called themselves their favorite player. One picked Allen Iverson — sporting the arm sleeve and all, another went with Kobe, and so on. 

I picked the Big Ticket and from then on I was Kevin Garnett on the City View School basketball court.

The only poster up in my room is a KG one. I got his rookie card on my wall. Hell, I even got a Timberwolves trash can.

Fast forward to last summer. 

Danny Ainge finally realized he wouldn't be around to see the Celtics' young pieces fully develop and went out and overhauled the roster.

What occurred is well-documented. A draft-day trade brought in Ray Allen and a later deal saw Ainge give up half of New England for Garnett.

And I was now a die-hard Celtics fan.

I still loved 'Melo, but now I had two of my favorite players — most importantly Garnett — on the team I grew up following the closest. It only makes sense.

But at first it didn't feel right. I felt that it was wrong to be a die-hard Yankee and Celtic fan. Then I realized it isn't.

355 days out of the year, Boston and New York each could be in China and I wouldn't notice. My parents don't have memories about following the Red Sox in 1986 or the Celtics in the '80s. It's the same reason why I don't listen to classic rock and other music from that era — my childhood didn't consist of it.

And I don't mind it one bit. I've gotten my share of heat here in Red Sox Nation and some more for breaking the unwritten code of rooting for both the Yankees and Celtics — even if they're in different sports.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.




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