Has anybody else been noticing how it just got cool to be a Boston sports fan? Yes, a Boston sports fan!
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s put this sports year into perspective. Where do I start? Oh yes, those Patriots. After a questionable off-season where they signed underachieving quarterback Drew Bledsoe to a $100 million contract, started the season 2-5 and did not have a soul in the locker room worthy of an ESPN: The Magazine cover page, the Patriots are Super Bowl XXXVI Champions. How did they do it? Luck. Five game-winning Adam Venitieri field goals’ worth of it! But how many teams are able to win a championship without a little luck? Then how did they really do it? Very simple: by outplaying every team they had to. The Patriots closed the season by winning eight straight games, going into Pittsburgh and spanking the number one-ranked team in the AFC, and were a Willie McGinnest tug on Marshall Faulk’s jersey away from doing the same to the Rams. That sounds like the best team to me. So don’t tell Patriots fans, band-wagoners, or bootleggers about “Cinderella.”
Now, as one of the big surprises of this wacky NBA season, the Boston Celtics have won 30 games with half of the season remaining and are legitimate Atlantic Division contenders. To be fair, the Eastern conference is often just short of a joke and the Celtics have had favorable schedule. However, there is no doubt that Celtics fans can realistically, realistically, speak of watching their team in May. What has changed in just ten months â€“ why are the Celtics doing so well? It must be that same “thing” that has made the New Jersey Nets the number one team in the East, and the 27-win Wizards almost destined for the playoffs. Whatever that “thing” is, Boston fans aren’t questioning it; they’re just happy they can finally get those old Celtics jerseys out from under their beds and actually bear to stay until the end of games. Granted, the Celtics have had only a handful of sell-out games, with those coming when the likes of MJ and the “Lake Show” come to town. But this crop of Celtics isn’t too bothered by its lack of sell-outs; they’re busy working their tails off, winning games they shouldn’t be winning. Led by all-star forwards Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, the Celtics are finally giving New Englanders a reason to go the FleetCenter, other than college hockey. So for true Celtics fans, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 1993, this season has been more than just a solid start â€“ try a dream start.
As if the Patriots and Celtics didn’t represent enough of a sports catharsis for Bostonians, now with the second half of the NHL season more than two weeks old the Bruins are Northeastern Division leaders at 32-16-4. Honestly, you all can even check for yourselves. The Bruins are division leaders and have done it by playing exceptional hockey. With Joe Thornton third in the NHL in both assists and points, and all-star Billy Guerin second in the league in scoring, it makes the story a little easier to believe, doesn’t it? As if the solid play of those two wasn’t enough, consistent goaltender Bryon Defoe is only allowing a stingy 2.21 goals each game (good for seventh in NHL); wingers Sergei Samsonov and Glenn Murray are quietly having undoubtedly their best seasons as professionals; and newcomer Sean O’Donnell is playing as well as the league’s elite defenders. The Bruins finally have three legitimately good lines and are playing great team hockey. If you add it all up, you realize that a first place Bruins team isn’t so unbelievable after all. At least not to Bruins fans!
Also, just a few anecdotes about the sports year 2001, where even in the college ranks it was a remarkable year for Boston sports: Boston College became national champions in hockey in late April after the basketball team was more than a credible force in March Madness, which showcased one of the elite college basketball players in America, Troy Bell. Moreover, the Boston College football program recently made it two straight bowl victories after upsetting Georgia in the Music City Bowl. Harvard even won Ivy League football.
What a great 15 months this has been for Boston sports fans â€“ it’s been like one of those dreams you always wish would last well into the day. But even if daybreak does awaken Boston sports fans from their dream, their Patriots will still be Super Bowl champions.
Wait! I feel like I’m forgetting something. But what is it? (Curious sigh). Ah yes, the Red Sox. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Bostonians: as my mother always reminds me, “you have to crawl before you can walk.”
With that in mind: patience, Red Sox fans! Patience!