for anyone who hasn’t heard: the Celtics have defeated the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals. they clinched it in game 6, in front of the home crowd at the Garden. and the flow of goodwill (of course, i don’t live in LA, but) in general, seems wildly different from hearkening back to the Patriots’ Super Bowl flop.
people are excited not only for the Celtics players, the coaches, and the staff; but they’re happy for the city and the fans. even documented boston haters have offered their accolades. what’s different?
i believe people, by their nature, are averse to hubris. they generally want to see the good guy triumph, the bad guy get his come uppance. what defines whether others think you are good or bad? identifying with you, your intentions, and your goals. judging whether you deserve to attain that goal or not. and herein lies the big difference.
the 2007-08 New England Patriots were quite possibly the most arrogant collective of individuals in professional sport in recent history. i didn’t quite understand this at the time; i kept wondering “why do they hate us?” and i only really began to understand, when i started watching the Celtics-Lakers series.
i won’t say that it’s an out and out david vs. goliath story. the Celtics team is more than capable and full of talented and accomplished people. but the media, most professional sports fans, commentators, and the courtside celebrities (athleteratti?) had pretty much assumed the Lakers would win. how could they not? Kobe Bryant is the best player in basketball, how is it possible that they could lose?
the satisfaction in victory, for a new fan of the Celtics, was phenomenal. i’m surprised how much i wanted the Celtics to win almost equally to how much i wanted the Lakers to lose. after seeing the chest-thumping of the Lakers players, the smirking Jack Nicholsons. everyone (except Matt Damon) thinking there was no way these “Boston” guys could take the trophy from it’s destined recipients.
then they did, beating the Lakers 131-92 and proving beyond any doubt that they deserved it. piling on points? maybe. outplaying the Lakers in every dimension of the game? more likely.