With each passing year my zeal for professional sports of any kind continually loses its luster. Maybe it is because of the greed of which I have spoken many times, perhaps it is because of the saturation of the games on television 24/7/365, or maybe it is just that the people that play them no longer seem larger than life for this aging fan.
For me though, the NBA season basically has no appeal for any reason. That is hard for me to imagine sometimes because I can remember jumping out of our old truck on a cold winter Sunday noon as we pulled into that rock and dirt front yard, after a morning at Sunday school and church, and rushing in to turn on our old television. I was in high hopes that the reception for the day would be good enough for me to, one more time; watch my beloved Boston Celtics prevail against an outmanned and outcoached opponent.
Yes sir there would be big Bill Russell clearing the boards and kicking the ball out to a sprinting Sam Jones or Bob Cousey who would lead the Celtic fast break and dish the ball off to KC Jones, Tommy Heinson, or Satch Sanders for yet another basket. And to add insult to injury the Celtics would bring the greatest sixth man ever off the bench in the form of John Havlicek to just pile on the points. With Russell clearing the boards and daring any shot in the paint and Cousey, ever the magician with the ball in his hands, and the rest of that glorious cast of basketball studs, I just couldn’t get enough.
The best part of the day would be when the master plotter and court general, Coach Red Auerbach, would light up that cigar on the bench in celebration of victory much to the delight of Celtic fans everywhere and equally irking to fans of any other team. Even in defeat, I knew that within a couple of days the boys in green would once again be triumphant all the way to the World Championship.
The Boston Celtics would win sixteen championships with the Auerbach fingerprints still on the operations part of the organization. However the more the Auerbach influence diminished from the organizational blueprint, the less of a fan I became. I know that the Celtics captured the 17th title in 2008 and did so with an Auerbach-like work ethic but by that time I was completely out of touch with what was going on in Boston Garden during any season. With that my love of the NBA just about went completely away.
I always swore that the two venues that housed professional sports franchises that I wanted to see before they were demolished were Boston Garden and Yankee Stadium. I was too late for the Garden which saw its last action in 1995. I so wanted to see that parquet floor and all those championship banners hanging from the rafters as well as the retired numbers of my boyhood heroes before it was gone. Yes those things were moved to the new arena but much like the new Yankee stadium it just “ain’t” the same.
My feelings for the Boston Red Sox are the polar opposite as those for the Celtics. Even though Fenway Park may now be the ultimate stadium that can arouse the thrills of yesteryear as well as those of today, I have had no desire to ever set foot in that park. Anyone who understands sports rivalries probably has already figured out that since I am a devoted Yankee fan and have been for a lifetime, that Fenway and its famous Green Monster has had no lure for me.
That does not, however, lessen the respect that I have for this great and proud organization or the legends who made it famous. That is truly what makes a rivalry special. All those little braggadocios from the other side and the boasting of victories over that special foe really juices up any sport!
From Cy Young to Tris Speaker, to Jimmy Foxx, to Ted Williams, to Carl Yastremski, to Jim Rice, to Carlton Fisk, to Jason Veritek, the Sox have been represented extremely well in Cooperstown. Yes, even “The Babe” suited up for Boston until traded to the hated Yankees and gave birth to “The Curse of the Bambino” until future Hall of Famer Veritek and mates ended that in 2004.
So love them, hate them, or without preference either way the “Boys of Fenway” will forever be a fiber of this great city.
As for the Bruins of the NHL: these guys have skated their way to six Stanley Cup championships since their beginning. Not being a fan of hockey, unless it is watching re-runs of the “Miracle On Ice” of the 1980 USA Olympians, I have very limited knowledge of this franchise with the second most cups of any team in the league with six. Even so as a youngster I collected stories and pictures for my scrapbook from any professional sports team. Among my pictures are those of Bobby Orr and Phil Espisito who led the Bruins to two of those six Stanley Cup titles.
As for football there is much to talk about with the Patriots. However I will limit my writing to just a brief overview of that organization. Most of the notoriety assigned to the Patriots belongs to the franchise after its move to Foxsboro and became the New England Patriots. I will not bore anyone with the accolades earned by the likes of future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick. They along with other great players have formed arguably the most formidable franchise in current NFL circles.
They too have their rightful place in the Boston landscape of highly successful sports franchises.
But now to the real centerpiece of the Boston sports scene: the historic Boston Marathon. Sure the events of two weeks ago has cast that monumental event in a new light. But let’s not forget that before April 15 there had been 116 marathons run, attracting competitors from all over the world. It truly had earned its reputation as the premier marathon anywhere.
What the events of April 15, 2013 did show is that Boston is a city with heart and compassion for anyone who chooses to visit this historical site for whatever reason. The bombings at the finish line that killed innocent bystanders and dismembered and injured many others has only proven that this great city understands what it takes to rise above cowardly acts and that setbacks are only temporary.
It has already been chronicled in so many different reportings about the heroics of the first responders as well as the ordinary people who rushed to help the wounded. It would be nice if each and every one who donated time and resources to the preservation of life and their sympathies to those who lost their life could be decorated for their actions. For those actions we can never say enough.
And what about the law enforcement, whether it was from the city, the state, the nation, or the world! They wouldn’t quit until they had apprehended and served justice to those who would choose to maim and murder the most innocent of sports fans anywhere. Probably to a man/woman these folks would deny any badge of heroism that would try to be pinned to their chest. So we remember them as a law-enforcing unit of bravery and resolve that will forever be a part of sports lore in this proud city.
Truly, I wish that Red Sox slugger and a sports icon in Beantown, David Ortiz, would have chosen other words to use in describing the Boston toughness and relentless attitude, but it was very fitting for him to declare on behalf of Bostonians everywhere how he felt about the bombings and the capture of those who will forever remain as total cowards in the history of this country.
And finally, how about Neil Diamond and “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway! It made the most ardent Yankee fan stand up and scream: “Go Sox”. Suddenly I have a newfound item on my bucket list: visit Fenway and hear that trademark song that is heard after every BoSox game.
Here’s to you Boston and we have no doubt that you are even more “Boston Strong” than ever. And because of what has transpired over the past two weeks everyone involved on that tragic day of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon will always be included in “All Things Boston”. It is my hope and belief that they can and will draw strength from such a resounding compliment.