Switching Allegiances: How a Lakers' Fan Became a Celtics' Lover
I hate the Boston Celtics.
I grew up in Southern California. Showtime Lakers and I were born in the same summer; Pat Riley had just won his first championship as coach, and James Worthy had just been drafted.
The Lakers logo is etched onto each chamber of my heart, and purple and gold blood flows through my body.
I have an innate and passionate hatred for the Celtics. I hate Larry Bird's molester moustache. I hate Kevin Garnett's front running yapping. I hate Kendrick Perkin's ogre like stare. I hate the ridiculous Boston accent. I hate the word wicked.
And most of all, I hate the Celtics' 2008 championship. Their Game Four comeback against the Lakers was the worst moment of my life. I ran to my bed and buried my face in the mattress. I couldn't move. I couldn't be consoled. I was beyond sick. I was comatose.
The Celtics would go on to wipe away the Lakers in humiliating fashion.
Without delving into hyperbole, look at my archive of articles on Bleacher Report. There's an 18-month gap from that crushing NBA Finals until my next article. I was too emotionally wounded to enjoy the NBA again, let alone write about it.
Not even a championship the following season was enough, because it wasn't against our arch nemesis. Only after seeing the Celtics struggle this season with age and injuries could I start enjoying basketball again.
Winning wasn't enough. I needed the Celtics to be losing to make me happy.
That's why I needed to write about what happened today. It was most unexpected and has me rethinking sports, fandom, and my entire life.
With 9:48 left in Game 4 against the Cavs, Rajon Rondo hurled the ball downcourt to a streaking Glen Davis who, with surprising athleticism and coordination, collected the ball and laid it in to push the Celtics lead to 4.
I had an uncontrollable reflex that left me in more shock and awe than any basketball play ever could.
I pumped my fist and muttered "yessss! "
The Celtics went on an enthralling run led by Tony Allen, converting dunks and layups against the Cavs to run the lead to double digits. I clapped after each defensive stop and cheered for their movement off the ball, which made the Cavs defense look like an open buffet at the rim.
And when the Celtics resisted the Cavs final push, I felt inspired by their toughness. I wanted to be in that crowd. The same euphoria that blankets me after each Lakers win overtook my sensations.
The Celtics won, and I wasn't just happy, I was ecstatic.
It's a good day.
Because as much as I've historically detested the Boston Celtics, at this moment in time, I hate the Cavs even more.
I hate the Cleveland Cavaliers, starting and ending with LeBron James.
I hate how much he overblew his elbow injury. Kobe and Jordan never even mention their injuries, but he milked sympathy from the media like a true drama king.
I hate how two months ago he arrogantly said he could lead the league in scoring "every single year" if he really wanted to, when a young man named Kevin Durant has something to say about that. Of course, he never would. Durant has too much class.
I hate how LeBron is called for fewer fouls than any top perimeter player in the history of the game . (James had a stretch of five straight games averaging 36.8 minutes per game without being called for one foul. Not one in five games! "It's impossible," said one team executive.)
I hate how LeBron had the primadonna brazenness to complain about missing his afternoon nap . (The team plane had mechanical problems and they didn't get to Orlando until mid-afternoon.)
And I hate how the media constantly adores and worships him. Here's what the ABC crew said about LeBron during his first playoff game this season:
Jeff Van Gundy: "LeBron is already in the conversation of the greatest players in NBA history."
Mark Jackson: "People say he hasn't won a championship yet, but getting to the Finals against the Spurs was like a championship."
But most of all, I hate that he's the best player in the world and he's not on my team. I feel the same way that non-Lakers fan felt about Shaq ten years ago. "He's just bigger than everyone else, it's not fair!"
I loved Shaq on my team. I would have hated him otherwise. I feel the exact same way about LeBron.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Go Celts! Boston knocking Cleveland out of the playoffs would be wicked!
And then we can return to our normally scheduled mutual hatred.
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