Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 10/30/12
With Opening Day just a few hours away, I decided to post an introspective look into my being a Celtics fan in another country. Hope it satiates the hunger for a bit while waiting for the 2012-2013 season.  There is something special about being a Celtics fan. Maybe it’s the rich history, or the championship banners, the legendary Celtic pride, Ubuntu or all of them. I really cannot explain. Let me rephrase that: there is something special about the consequences of caring for a group of professional athletes who have embraced true team basketball and inimitable pride in their craft. I am proud to call myself a Celtics fan, even in a country where basketball is only played by expatriates and the number one sport is soccer. Here in the United Arab Emirates, the sport of David Beckham is king. Still, life isn’t so bad, as the numerous basketball tournaments here sponsored by generous Filipino communities make sure that the game of hoops is well and alive in the Middle East. I have played and watched the game from a young age, coming from a country where, despite our inappropriate statures, the game is revered and played on any and every surface imaginable to man. (Rafe Bartholomew of Grantland wrote an excellent book about Philippine hoops, and a pretty nice piece on Heat coach and half-Filipino Erik Spoelstra). Young boys are taught the game at an early age, enter into sports clinics, play pickup basketball almost every day (even at school lunch breaks) and follow the NBA and local leagues religiously. Where our love for basketball started, I do not know: I just know that being Filipino meant that you knew how to play and enter a pickup game at anytime, anywhere, any place. Being overseas means a deeper, stronger bond with your countrymen in a land where basketball is the secondary sport but is still the primary sport in our hearts. And of course, the best basketball on the planet is being played in the NBA, and the best team basketball is played in Beantown. And so we stay tuned, no matter where we are, time zones be damned. There are some sacrifices entailed in being a Celtics fan in another country. For me, the time difference leaps out as the most challenging. Most Boston home games are shown a little past 3 a.m., which meant getting up early (not a problem for me, as I am an early riser and a morning person), sleeping as early as 8 p.m. on a workday just to tune your body clock to catch the tip-off (I swear, I saw the Celtics-Knicks preseason comeback win in spurts – half asleep most of the time. They were down by 20 so I kinda dozed off, only to be awakened by excited squeals of delight as the C’s came back to take the game) and explaining to your better half why you need some alone time sometimes. (I have a plan to make my girl love the Celtics as much as I do. Hope it works.) I hope she will understand why I celebrate Kevin Garnett’s intense focus and appreciates his chest pounding, crowd pleasing pregame tipoff routine. The way Rajon Rondo shovels impossible looking passes and penetrates to the cup like nobody’s business. They way Paul Pierce is always a threat to nail a dagger to the heart of the opposing club, in the face of the opposition’s best defender, even after a subpar shooting night. I hope she feels the same jubilation I do on every made shot; the same fist-pumping excitement on every and-one; and the same feeling of ice running through my veins after every loss, especially close losses. That’s what’s so great about this game: every play is a chance to commemorate something. All the little nuances flow beautifully like supremely fitted pieces with these Celtics: no hero ball, no overused isolations. Mortal men sacrificing their minds and bodies for the greater good. Neatly set picks, tight defensive rotations, extra passes out of beautiful ball movement. And most of all, the fire and passion of playing the game the way it was meant to be played. I remember my dear mother once telling me that caring for teams don’t make your life better: they won’t give you a share of their earnings once they, you know, earn them. You’re not going to any postgame parties in Boston. You ain’t going to be anything else than a fan. I don’t know if that’s correct though. I may never party with Rondo and KG, but seeing them play the game with the passion of a true baller inspires the heart. It soothes the spirit, and makes you feel like you, yourself, are a part of the journey through eighty-two grueling regular season games and the brutal battle that is the playoffs. You have taken this journey. With this team. I’m in love. And I bleed Celtics green. Through and through. [Discuss on CG Forums!]
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