Celtic Pride is a phrase that is kicked around a lot by Celtics fans and the media. Celtic Pride was the name of a publication I used to subscribe to back in the 80's. It was a magazine style monthly publication that included stories from behind the scenes. It was really great to get that issue every month, especially for those of us out of the area who didn't get the local news on the team. But, along with the glory years, the publication went by the wayside.
Celtic Pride is also the name of a movie starring Dan Akroyd and Daniel Stern as two rabid fans of the Boston Celtics. Mike O'Hara (Stern) and Jimmy Flaherty (Aykroyd) are die-hards in the truest sense of the word. They're the type of season ticket holders who go to every game wearing green and they eat, drink, and breathe the Celtics. In the movie, the Celtics have reached the NBA finals, and the series is knotted at 3-3. Looking for an advantage for their beloved Celtics, Mike and Jimmy decide to meet the star opposing player, Utah Jazz bad boy Lewis Scott (played by Damon Wayans) at a bar, get him drunk, then kidnap him while he's out cold. In the end, the die hard Celtic fans have to cheer for the Jazz in order to avoid being charged with kidnapping. I may be the only one on the face of the earth who actually liked this movie and even bought the DVD of it. The Celtic Pride in this movie is that of the fans for the team, so much so that they would do anything to help their team win. Around the league, Celtics fans are known for their fanaticism and being fans of the most storied franchise in the NBA is a good reason to be proud.
There are blogs named Celtics Pride. There have been radio shows called Celtics Pride. We hear people talk about Celtics Pride all the time. I have a very cool tee shirt that says "Celtics Pride is Back" on it.
From the sixties through the late eighties, Boston Celtic fans were the ultimate in arrogance. The parquet floor of the old Boston Garden seemed to just exude pride. First it was Russell vs Wilt and then Bird vs Magic. The Celtics racked up banner after banner seemingly with ease. They had a few years in the seventies when they were down but they bounced right back to win more banners. No other franchise can boast 17 championships or as many Hall of Fame players or as many retired numbers. Celtics fans are a proud bunch and with good reason.
This is from a 2002 issue of the Sporting News.
On April 21, the simple act of a leisurely stroll by five white-haired gentlemen, along with a few bars of Bruce Springsteen background music, suddenly awoke Celtic Pride.
Moments before the Celtics faced the 76ers in the first game of the teams' Eastern Conference opening-round playoff series, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and even Red Auerbach supplied the home fans with an impromptu spine-tingler.
The quintet of Boston icons decided among themselves to walk side by side, in front of the Philly bench, across the parquet floor and to their seats in Section 12. For good measure, the Celtics blasted The Boss' "Glory Days" over the FleetCenter's usually unnoticed loud speakers.
The legends were back, and so were the Celtics. "That gave me chills," says Boston general manager Chris Wallace. "You're around this stuff all the time, but that really probably brought it home maybe more than any event I've been through in the five years I've been with this team. When those guys walked across the court, that showed that we're not just another sports franchise."
Red Auerbach was the master of gamesmanship. He would do anything to get the edge in a game. He would have cold water piped into the visiting locker rooms in the old Garden. It is said that he turned up the heat in the locker rooms during the playoffs as well. It was so bad that opposing teams had to bring oxygen for their players just to get through the games. Also the dead spots on the floor were legendary. I remember watching one game a player was dribbling up the floor and Dennis Johnson seemed to be herding him over toward the side. Suddenly, DJ swooped down and grabbed the ball as it hit the ground and didn't come back up. His opponent had hit a dead spot and DJ knew right where it was and was ready to grab the ball when it didn't bounce back up from the dribble.
The past has always been a security blanket for Celtics fans. 17 World Championships. Red Auerbach, Russell, Heinsohn, Cousy, Havlicek, the Jones Boys, Cowens, Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ, Sharman, Walton, Maravich and so many more. No other team has such a rich history or such a winning tradition. Then came the dark ages known as the '90s, and with them came the ML Carr debacle and the Pitino years. The fans who have stuck with the team through it all are the real die hard fans, those with real Celtic Pride.
With the acquisition Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007, the Celtics regained their pride and swagger. Kevin Garnett is more than a superstar. He is one of the few players that knows what it means to compete. He is fierce, and he does not like to lose. He has the ability to make those around him better. He is a multi-talented threat that is equal parts scoring, rebounding, assists and intimidation. Those are the qualities that made Larry Bird a legend in Boston and helped him to bring 3 championships to Boston. Those qualities re-kindled Celtic Pride with championship #17 in 2008.
I came across this statement in John Havlicek's biography and it has stuck in my mind.
He also had the inner drive that characterized "Celtics pride." After his first year Havlicek went home and worked hard to improve both his outside shooting and his dribbling. The next season he led the team in scoring.
Lex had a post about how the great players always add a skill or work on a skill in the offseason and it brought this to mind once again. The inner drive that characterized Celtics pride. The context of this statement seems to indicate that Celtics pride is something inside the players to make them want to be better. Something inside that makes them work harder because they are Celtics and that means something. Celtics Pride is what drove Havlicek to work to improve his dribbling and his shooting after his first year. It is what drove all of the Celtics' legendary players to be the best they could and to work to become a team capable of winning a championship year after year. It is what kept Bird in the gym hours after practice working on his game even though he was already a superstar.
Celtics Pride is what makes KG work hard year after year to keep his body in top shape. It is why he signed a 3 year contract at a discount to try for another ring. Celtics Pride is what took Paul Pierce back to training camp just weeks after a near fatal stabbing. Celtics Pride is what kept Paul Pierce in Boston when things weren't going well all those years. Celtics Pride is what made Jason Terry want to work out with KG this summer to build chemistry before the season. Celtics Pride is what kept Avery Bradley working hard in spite of not getting much playing time his rookie year. Celtics Pride is what brought Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green back to the Celtics after heart surgery wanting to be better than before and wanting to help the team win. Yes, Celtics Pride is still alive and well in Boston and that bodes well for the upcoming season.
Sorry no links today. Feeling way under the weather and just couldn't get them done. Can only sit up for a few minutes at a time and that won't cut it when it comes to doing the links. Hopefully better tomorrow.