Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Banner 18: Beantown Lounge Style


Holy shit the Celtics won the NBA Finals last night. Their first title in 16 years - to the day. It still hasn't fully sunk in yet. It feels surreal.

I wanted to do a quick in-the-moment post just cuz this has been a long road back to title town for the Cs. And I've been on the pulse the whole way through, as have many of the LUSH & Todd squaders (shout out Chuckleheads, our purest Greenteamers in the crew. It was an honor and a privilege to watch with y'all last night. Celtics Blessss 🙏🍀).

I also wanted to write something up because, in many ways, my Celtics fandom is a major reason why I became an avid writer. 

During my college years a few buddies and I started up a blog called Beantown Lounge (shoutout Q, shoutout Colin). It was super similar to this one, except almost exclusively focused on Boston sports. We were students with a bunch of free time, trying to do a less in-the-gutter and way less ambitious version of Barstool essentially. There were hints of Grantland in the mix too, and some Boston Dirt Dogs inspo as well. And at the time the Celtics were still fighting for that second title with the Big 3. They were a hot-ticket item, as they have been for the better part of the 21st century. Then we lost Ray and traded Pierce and KG to Brooklyn. By the end of the blogs run Ainge had just got Isaiah Thomas at the deadline. It was a wild turning point for the franchise. And today on the heels of their 18th banner it all feels like a lifetime ago.

Back then, when there was wonder for what was to come, the Cs were my favorite thing to write about. Diving into the ins-and-outs of the NBA salary cap, reading through the trade rumors, speculating on what could be done to improve our chances. It was all so interesting and fun. There was so much hope. And a lot of fear too. A title could never come again. It always felt like it would be next year. So many teams and fans never get there. You just never know. 

But through it all during those college years, I genuinely loved honing in my writing chops talkin' Celts. I lost the email that hosted that blog, so the archives are gone. The website no longer shows up when you search for it. And my writing interests have shifted in the years since. But my fandom has never wavered, and my passion for writing has only grown stronger. Those OG Beantown Lounge days were where the embers first sparked up. And the Celts were the flint. For that I will forever be grateful for the Cs 💚

The Celts are also a link to the past for those of us born into fandom. I've been rooting for them ever since I can remember. My Dad told stories about Bird and McHale all the time when I was growing up. Even told stories about Russell that his father had passed down to him. You hear about the legacy and tradition and can't help but want to add to it. Can't help but want to carve out your own chapter with your own guys. And get the older generation to acknowledge that what your teams did was damn good. Maybe not as good (I can hear my Dad now saying they've still got a long way to go to catch Bird haha). The Jays will never be on Russell's level. And probably never will be on Bird's. But being able to add another notch in the belt means so much. It's very much a family affair in that regard.

And the last time we won back in '08 I was a burgeoning teenager at just 15 years old. Just over half a lifetime ago. To think of what has happened in those years since is wild. I watched that title on a tiny little 20" TV in my kitchen lol and couldn't wait to talk about it with friends the next day. Last night we watched on a massive flatscreen and I was texting my buddies the whole time. And was all over social media the whole night when I got back home. The world is so different. 

There were also huge trials and tribulations for the Celtics in those 16 years. And there were many ups-and-downs in my own life too. Successes along the way. Good decision-making. But also pain and heartache. Costly mistakes. The Cs had many different team iterations in the decade-and-a-half since the last banner. And I too have had many different people come in and out of my life. But the core has stayed strong through it all. The Jays have been here their whole careers. Pritchard is our dude. Hauser is our dude. Mazzulla is New England to the core. And I know who my ride-or-dies are. A victory like last night's makes that all so clear. Sports reflect life in so many ways. It's why a championship means the world to so many of us.

So yeah, I’m feeling pretty damn good right about now haha. Boston is so back, baby. Unreal. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Our own guys from day one. You can't write this shit. They had always shown signs of being the next great Celtics to hoist the trophy. They even got us 2 games away from it back in '22. But they hadn't quite gotten over the mountain. And it was a scary place to be. They had always given us solid teams and deep playoff runs. But they had yet to deliver, and the last place you wanna be is in that best-to-never-win-one category. This is the Boston Celtics. Legacies aren't secured with just dominant regular seasons and Eastern Conference Finals appearances. I don't say that trying to be a douchey Boston sports fan lol. I'm just stating the facts. The expectations are insane here. The tradition is hallowed. The burden is heavy. And finally the weight is off the Jays shoulders.

The eye-popping stats from this season have all been validated. A title is what makes the all-time great numbers actually mean something. Anything short of that and it's mute. But now the haters and doubters can't say shit. Myself included. I was never a hater (Celts 4 Lyfe baby), but doubts admittedly crept in. This team had ripped my heart out many times before. For an offense this historic, their dry spell shooting sprees were beyond mystifying. Anything could happen with them - good or bad. And after a handful of years of the rollercoaster, it was a put-up-or-shut-up season. And they put the fuck up. What they gonna say now? Ain't shit.

That's all I got. I could spend some more time polishing this up, but I'd rather it be raw and pure. In the words of the great Kevin Garnett - I'm so hype right now. I want that hype and all it's scattered messiness to show itself in this moment.

Much love to all Celts fans. We did it!!! Horford you fucking dawg you finally got one! The Dirty Horrrrr!!! KP, DWhite, Jrue, Paypay, Hauser, Kornet, fucking Tillman aka P.J. Brown 2.0. What a squad! 

Can't wait for the parade on Friday. LFGGG!!!

-Z.B. James

No comments:

Post a Comment