When I was a kid, I didn’t eat peppers. Not because I tried them and didn’t like them. But because my dad always ordered his salads and sandwiches without peppers. I probably didn’t have a pepper until I was in my 20′s… just because all I had ever known was that my dad didn’t like them.
We’ve got good mix of ages here on Red’s Army. And there are a few of you, like me and Chuck, who see all that green and purple laundry out there and it triggers some sort of visceral response in you. Yes, the names on the back say Pierce, Garnett, Bryant and Odom. But the colors say Bird, McHale, Johnson and Worthy. We love the Celtics and hate the Lakers because of the things that happened when we were young. The clothesline. The hook shot in the lane. Events that were burned in our brains that will never escape.
But a lot of you hate the Lakers for the same reason I hated peppers: Because the older folks hated them. A lot of the Lakers commenters around here lately only hate the Celtics because they know they are supposed to. But now… they just hate the Celtics.
We heard a lot about how the rivalry was reborn in these finals. And in a sense, they were, for people like me who see guys in green celebrating and get misty eyed… because it reminds us of the innocence of being all-consumed by trivial sports matters in our youth. That slow motion replay of Paul Pierce jumping around after Ray Allen’s lay up is now permanently engrained in my memory. I’ll be recalling it someday (hopefully) as an 80-year-old man rambling on and on about the players in “my day”… along with the memories of the original Big 3.
But for young Lakers fans last night… that was the moment when the rivalry became real. It became personal. The old, grainy highlights of guys in short shorts don’t matter anymore… because last night is when you really started to hate the Celtics. Young Celtics fans were hit with that dose of Celtics magic that hooked people like me and Chuck when we were your age. You always said you loved the Celtics… but last night is when you really fell in love. Its like the moment when you realize the girl you’re dating… and whom you’ve told “I love you” to a million times… is the one you’re going to marry.
The Celtics-Lakers rivalry needed last night to make sure it lived on as a true rivalry. Without it, teenagers in LA aren’t hoping to see the Celtics again next year. Without it, teenagers in Boston aren’t saying “oh yeah… bring it on! We’ll be there.”
Last night, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry was truly reborn.
(Getty Images Photo)