NBA Finals: My Own Private Hell

Roger PipeContributor IJune 9, 2010

NBA Finals: Here We Go Again

Never Thought I’d Be Writing This

If you’re a sports fan then you have read every possible
examination of the Celtics/Lakers Finals match up possible.
It has everything. History, rivalry, glamor, revenge, stars,
good guys, bad guys, Magic, Bird, Russell, Kareem, 17, 15
you name it.

I’m not about to head into those waters, but
I am going to write about it. Why? Because it’s what’s
on my mind today so consider this both my take on the series and
on my own issues that come into play.

As some of you know, I care way too much about the Boston
Celtics. Yes that’s right, a SoCal kid, born and raised
within the expanses of the purple and yellow empire
(Seriously, where but LA are these colors called “blue and
gold”?) grew up to be a 100% Celtic fan through and
through. How I got here is simple.

Some would say I got smart after following my friends to Laker-fan status in the
70’s. Others would say that as a San Diego kid I
eventually learned to hate all things Los Angeles (Kind of
true, save for USC and the Kings.) but it was really much
simpler than that.

It was the 1981 Finals between the
Celtics and Rockets that did it. And no folks, it wasn’t
Larry Bird who sucked me in. It was Cedric Maxwell who made
me forget about Lou Hudson, Norm Nixon and the Lakers I had
been geographically programmed to love. From that point on I
grew to love the Green and hate everything purple and
yellow. (Save the Vikings) I watched as the Celtics of Bird
and the Lakers of Magic battled through the 80’s, living
and dying during those long weeks each June when titles were
won and lost.

I wasn’t a sane fan either. I’m not proud of it, but my
sister often tells people (accurately I believe) that she
learned to swear from listening to me scream from the back
room during Celtics games.

Not just run of the mill obscenities either. I would often string together things that
would have been comical were they not so horribly
inappropriate. I’m not proud of my behavior then, but I
wrote it off to youthful exuberance.

The next twenty years were not kind to the Celtics. The
death of Len Bias before the 1987 season kicked off two
decades that saw the Big Three get old and retire, a young
star in Reggie Lewis die in the prime of his career and a
number of horrible miscalculations by the front office
(Dino Rajda anyone?).

I had seen them flounder horribly and found that I no longer                                        got quite so worked up watching them.
Of course I had also suffered through numerous letdowns from
my beloved Chargers, the poor Padres (two trips to the World
Series against arguably two of the best teams in the last
thirty years?) and even watched as Vince Young ran straight
into our end of the Rose Bowl to hand Texas a national
title. In each case I got way too upset.

Sports is never quite in perspective with me. But none of those
disappointments could match the fire I always had for the
Celtics. Nor could the Angels 2002 World Series win quite
match the feeling of a Celtics title. (Though it came pretty
damn close since I was there for every game.)

Fast forward to 2008 when the Celtics made their first title
run in two decades. I found the old feelings coming back.
When the Celtics took on the Lakers my beloved SoCal was
once again awash with those annoying yellow flags that
morons put on their cars (we can’t talk on cell phones,
but people can put that shit on their car?). I found myself
getting way too worked with each game.

Though I fought the urge to once again paint a stream of obscenities, I bit my
tongue as often as possible (Somehow little eyes watching
make me want to change.) At one point I actually left the
house, effectively giving myself a time out because it was
just getting to me.

I wish I could explain the rush of anger                                                                   I get watching sometimes. This all means way too much to me.
It’s not something I’m proud of, or anything I would
wish on someone else. I have a problem, I know this. I’m
working on it, but like an alcoholic who knows damn well
he’s going to find his way to the bottom of a bottle, I
just know that a storm is coming.

So now the Lakers and Celtics meet again two years later.
When the playoffs started nearly two months ago I never
imagined I would be writing this blog. The Celtics limped
through the final 2/3 of the season and looked like a dead
in the water 4 seed. The Lakers were struggling as well with
two serious threats in their path in the restocked Mavs and
a solid Denver Nuggets squad.

The Laker road turned out to be an easy one, when their two
biggest threats, Dallas and Denver were knocked off early.
They swept a depleted Utah Jazz team and then torched the
non-existent Phoenix defense for a mostly easy six game

The Celtics road was arguably the toughest in recent memory.
After cruising to a rather effortless five game win over
Miami, Boston faced Lebron James and the Cavaliers. The
Celtics who had been sleepwalking, emerged from their
lethargy and smacked the Cavs in six.

Surely the Magic would end their season though. Orlando was by far the best team of
the post season, steamrolling through the first eight games
in route to a well rested trip to the Eastern Finals. A
recharged Celtics team roared out to a 3-0 lead including
two wins in Orlando before slipping a bit and holding on for
a six game win.

Now the Celtics face the Lakers who were a full 9 games
better during the regular season, on a roll and the
prohibitive favorites. The Lakers have the momentum, the
younger squad, home court advantage and virtually everyone
is picking them to win. That wouldn’t bode well for my
battle against my own irrational reaction to a game I have
no control over.

How am I going to handle my obvious problem? There isn’t a
12 step program for irrational fandom. I’m going to try
the perspective thing. With all that has happened in the
last year, from my wife’s cancer scare, my sister in
law’s stroke, the loss of my grandmother, work issues,
money issues and a million other things, I have dealt with
worse than a Laker victory.

I am trying to see it as a “positive-only” bit of emotional candy. Hey, if they win
I can jump around and be happy like a kid right? It’s just
a game after all.

What do I think of the series? Honestly I think the Celtics
lose in five. The Lakers are too strong, too fast and have
been the better team all year. The Celtics have already
beaten two ‘better’ teams in Cleveland and Orlando
(Better record-wise even than LA) but I think that streak
comes to an end this week. So that’s my prediction, Lakers
in five.

My goal is to not break anything, not teach my kids
any new ways to string obscenities together and to be a
better example to them than I was to my poor sister. Oh and
to remember that it’s just a game.

By the way, if Boston does win, I’m shaving my head. Book


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