When I first moved to the Hub in 1997 the first thing that made me feel as if I were truly in Boston was seeing the shell of Boston Garden when I rode the Green Line to Lechmere one dazzling winter morning. It was the first time I was on elevated mass transportation and I was amazed at how the train seemed determined to plow itself into the structure only to make a sudden turn into the dilapidated edifice that was once North Station.
A few years later Paul Pierce was gravely wounded in a stabbing incident and I thought to myself, “What sort of city have I moved to? If a basketball star couldn’t be safe, what chances does a transplanted girl from Maui have?”
But I settled in, and the Celtics also settled. Settled for a sub-500 record under Rick Pitino from 1997 to 2001. Settled for getting into the playoffs but never making it into the finals from 2001 to 2005. Settled for tanking the 2006-7 season to rebuild the team via the lottery.
Danny Ainge played the odds. What were the odds that the Celtics would lose out on Greg Oden or Kevin Durant as they did Tim Duncan?
[Insert Bill Simmons conspiracy theory here.]
I’m no basketball maven. I can’t break down roundball strategy, I can’t tell zone from man-to-man defense, I don’t know what a foul is (but neither do the referees, so I don’t think I’m alone in that particular instance).
Basketball is a visceral experience for me, something that grabs hold of my heart and makes it pound, pound, pound, sounding as loud as when Eddie House bounced the ball against the parquet in the final seconds of Game 6.
The sensory bombardment that I would find distasteful in baseball is entirely appropriate in this sport: the fireworks searing my eyes, the music so loud my chest vibrates in sympathy, the taste of a primal scream ripping off my head. My holler isn’t anything close to Kevin Garnett’s, but with practice perhaps it will be.
Anything is possible!