(Want to make your Internet voice heard? Whatever it is, send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today’s fan piece comes from reader Girlballer.)
Greetings DT’ers!! I wanted to share with you my recent fan “experience” at the hallowed halls of the Boston Garden. If baseball stadiums are cathedrals of sports religion, then hardwood floors are the altars, and no altar is more holy than the parquet of the Garden, (and in Boston it is “the GAAAAAHDEN!!!” taking at least a full three count to pronounce it correctly). Sorry to break it to you CP3 but the truth is, the Celtics were my first NBA love.
Without going into a long, boring, (anonymity destroying) bio here, I do need to confess that I have only been to a total of two NBA arenas in my life. So my experience is obviously limited, but I think I gained some worthwhile tips from the good people of Boston for us as Thunder fans, and it confirmed (at least to me) what we are doing RIGHT, and what the rest of the league might learn from us! (side note* after I started writing this, I caught a segment on NBATV titled, “Who will be the NEXT OKC?!?!” blew my mind that we might already be old news…but I digress, I was telling you guys about Boston)
So my husband (and fellow Thunder acolyte) and I decide to go to one road game this year, and we kicked around a lot of cities, New Orleans (I still love you David West), New York (eeeeh I’m not really a big apple kinda girl), LA (ditto Rodeo Dr. etc.), Charlotte and Atlanta (because we’re Southerners dammit!), but really there was only one city at the top of my “100 things” list that fit the bill. Boston. Home of the Celtics, the “Bird”, the history, the museums, the oysters, the Harbor, the Cheers bar (more about that later), Boston has it ALL!
The first, and most overwhelming difference between going to a game at the Garden vs. the Ford Center is the security! It took at least a half hour to get in the arena because the new Garden shares part of the building and the entrance with the subway station. The unintended, but cool side effect of this is that it encourages mingling between the fans and heightens the excitement. However, this makes one a bit more conspicuous if one happens to be a taller than average girl wearing a Thabo Sefolosha road jersey! However, there were lots more Thunder jerseys, hats and t-shirts than I EVER expected to see, and we even talked to one fan from Vermont who was very excited to see the Thunder live! I feel this is a good time to point out how ignorant and misinformed I had been about the personality of the people of Boston. They were NICE! Not just some of them, but every last bartender, waitress, person on the street, fan sitting around us at the game, EVERYONE was welcoming, gracious and not a bit hateful or rude!
The next most striking thing, and this one is probably obvious, but they LOVE the Celtics in Boston. Duh right? But still, the universal nature of the love is striking. It is one of the most historic franchises in NBA history, and they are the defending champs, but you can’t get anyone to admit to NOT being a fan. It’s a pretty high-browed intellectual, metropolitan city, yet still nobody turned their nose up and said, “Basketball? You mean you came all the way from Oklahoma to see a basketball game?” And we told EVERYBODY why we were there. I told a bartender at a pub next to the campus of Harvard no less, and he kinda shrugs, as if to say, “Sounds about right.”
As great as we are, (and we ARE great, just read KD and russwest tweets…)we could learn a lot about passion, energy, and good clean rowdiness from the Celtics fans. I know this is the Midwest, and we Okies value privacy and personal autonomy VERY highly, but we are also the land of the tent revival, and I think a bit more “go out and witness to your neighbor” fan proselytizing is in order! How many of you have taken a friend to a Thunder game? Told a friend about the wonder that is Kevin Durant? The Boston fans love their team and aren’t afraid to tell you about it, LOUDLY!
Now for the “patting ourselves on the back” part of this!
We are, it is true, the most humble, nicest, most laid back fans in the NBA. Of this there can be no argument. And just like the way all owners start to resemble their dogs, and long married couples look more like brother and sister, an NBA city shares its personality with it’s most visible star. Humility and work-ethics are what make us great people, and they are what are so strikingly obvious in Kevin Durant, and they will be what our team is known for around the league. This is a very good thing, and rarer than it ought to be. The heartbreaking end to the Utah game this week, and especially Durant’s response to it in the media and on his Twitter page make one thing crystal clear. He is not a man, and we are not a team that makes excuses or blames anyone else for our failures. Master of his(our) destiny, author of his(our) own history, we will live or die in the playoffs, and as a franchise by his(our) own actions.
Peace, and GO THUNDER!!!