As a steady stream of Twin Cities sports superstars relocates to Boston, a hoops-crazy reporter asks himself: What price fandom?
If you're a die-hard sports fan — and if you live in Boston, you probably are — you’ve undoubtedly had moments where you view your obsession from the outside, skeptically, like an anthropologist watching a painful circumcision ritual for the first time. You see salaries exceed the GDP of some small nations. You watch greedy owners snooker taxpayers into building new stadiums, then pull the same exact scam 10 years later. You learn that your favorite players are wife-beaters or dog-fighters or just serious assholes. And you ask yourself: “Why do I care so much about [Team X]? Why do I waste so much time watching them, reading about them, googling them, talking about them, agonizing over them? What’s the point?”
Adam Reilly discussed Kevin Garnett, Randy Moss, and his home state with Phoenix cleaning guy and resident sports stud Pat D.
Pat D. on Kevin Garnett:
I wish Garnett came to Boston two years ago, when we got [ex-Timberwolf] Wally Szczerbiak. With the loss of one of the three dominant basketball players in the NBA today — the three being Shaq, Duncan, and KG — Minnesota has given away a possible championship and gives us a possible championship. We’ve tried youth; it don’t work. I feel, within the next five years, that we’re gonna win a championship. And I think we’ll win an Eastern Conference title two or three times.
Pat D. on Randy Moss:
Kraft is turning into the George Steinbrenner of the NFL: I want him, I need him, I’m gonna go out and get him. They’ll sign anybody. Randy Moss has never won a Super Bowl; he’s now in a position to get a ring. I have a feeling he’s a game player, he’s not a practice player — he kinda dogs it in practice. I think he might have lost a step. But because Brady doesn’t throw the ball deep, when you get closer down in the red zone, Moss is gonna play a huge part, because of how tall he is. He’s a troublemaker, but it’s not like he went out and punched somebody in the face or robbed somebody. But he shouldn’t have knocked down that traffic cop — that’s very immature. You gotta understand that your shit stinks just as bad as everybody else’s.
Pat D. on the state of Minnesota:
Minnesota? Never been there, never intend to go there. I was born, raised, and bred in Boston. I don’t give a shit about Minnesota. The only thing I know about Minnesota is from the television show Coach: it’s country, redneck, Maine. It doesn’t do anything. I wouldn’t know Minnesota from a hole in a wall. I don’t even know the capital. Who cares about Minnesota? That’s why you’re not there anymore, ’cause you don’t even care about Minnesota, either. That’s why you’re here.
For your correspondent, a native Minnesotan and long-suffering Timberwolves fan, the July 31 press conference introducing Celtics savior-in-waiting Kevin Garnett to Boston triggered a tsunami of such moments. Here he was — the biggest athletic talent in Minnesota history; the coolest athlete who ever embraced the state; a black, 21st-century Paul Bunyan — holding up his new Celtics jersey, grinning from ear to ear, making me nostalgic and homesick and pissed, and proving that some ex-Celtics can actually make good personnel decisions.
Pre-Garnett, there was already a strange pattern of outstanding pro athletes migrating from Minnesota to Boston: the Red Sox signed David Ortiz in 2003 after the Twins released him; and the Patriots recently traded for former Vikings superstar Randy Moss, who had a brief sojurn in Oakland. But Ortiz’s excellence didn’t really become clear until he established himself with the Red Sox. And while Moss’s massive talent once made the Vikings the NFL’s most entertaining team, it’s long been overshadowed by his reputation as a fan-fake-mooning, meter-maid-vehicular-bumping, referee-squirting, half-assed-efforting, “play when I want to play” douche.
Garnett is different: he’s a perennial All Star, a stellar defender, a former MVP, the only player other than Larry Bird to average 20 points, 10 boards, and five assists a game for five straight years. Of course, that alone doesn’t justify my absurdly melodramatic reaction to his arrival in Boston — a reaction that should be familiar to anyone who still laments the Dodgers’ move to LA or the Colts’ midnight move to Baltimore or the poor bastards in Winnipeg — Winnipeg! — who lost their hockey team to some rectangular- or square-shaped Southwestern state (it doesn’t even matter which one). My Garnett meltdown is really a bigger cautionary tale, a case study in why we overidentify with an athlete or a team, and what happens when that overidentification runs amok.
Unfortunately, it took another Minnesota-based event to open my eyes: the Minneapolis bridge collapse that killed at least nine people and crippled the Twin Cities. Try as I might — and I did try — I simply couldn’t get too worked up by this hometown tragedy. I was preoccupied by other, more pressing matters.
: Lifestyle Features
, National Basketball Association