June 2, 2015 by NowhereButPop
I’d imagine that being a fan of any other NBA team besides the Lakers or Celtics is a lot like being a neutral country during the Cold War. Caught between two antithetical juggernauts, knowing that whatever you do is ultimately inconsequential, yet favoring one side over the other, you’re just trying to get by without being demolished by either superpower. In the event that nuclear war broke out in 1951, 1962, 1985, or 1989, every country was ready to take a side in the melee. Turkey, Brazil, and Greece (begrudgingly) would all side with the U.S., while India, Nicaragua, and Chile would back up the C.C.C.P. Much in the same vain, if the next war was fought between the Lakers and their allies against the Celtics and their entente (which back in 1984, 1987, and 2010 looked like a real possibility), every fan of the NBA would be forced to take a side.
No one hates both the Lakers and Celtics, and as Chuck Klosterman perfectly illustrates why in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa-Puffs, it’s because they inherently represent and embody opposing thoughts on everything. Unlike baseball, where the Yankees own a monopoly on championships, or the monopolistic competition of football where there is an almost perfect division of championships among a handful of teams, in the NBA, there are only two power brokers, an oligarchy of wealth shared by two warring nations, one with a gigantic inferiority complex, and the other with malevolent sense of entitlement. Between the two teams, the Lakers and Celtics account for exactly 50% of all NBA title won. Despite their perpetual success and status as perennial contenders, people don’t hate them equally, or in the same vain that they hate the Yankees or the Cowboys. You either prefer one team and hate the other, or hate one team more than you do the other. It doesn’t come down to the derivative and negligent “they win all the time”, it’s something more; something guttural that makes it easy to despise one team over the other.
Because I’m stupid, I’m a Knicks fan; which is the emotional equivalent of self-flagellation. If I were a sensible human being, I would be a Laker fan. Magic Johnson is my second favorite player of all time, and my favorite non-Knick, I love the Showtime Lakers, I don’t find Kobe Bryant to be personally offensive to my existence, and I blame Bill Russell and John Havlicek for turning Jerry West is the most spiteful and embittered genius to ever walk the planet. They’re a model franchise that will do whatever is necessary to put a quality product on the court year after year. They’ve had some of the most memorable, exciting, and best players play for them (and enjoy it); and more importantly, they enjoy being one of the biggest power players in the league. They take their success in stride with a carefreeness that makes them more human and endearing than the Celtics. Magic’s glowing smile, Shaq’s jovial nature, and James Worthy’s affinity for prostitutes give the franchise an uplifting soul that contrasts the self-serious yet abusively arrogant nature of the Boston Celtics.
Contrasted with the colorful characters and the fun history of the Los Angeles Lakers, which ingratiates itself onto everyone save for Celtics fans and sore losers, the Boston Celtics are the most universally despised and unlikable team in the entire NBA. Everything from the attitude of the franchise, the players on the team (both past and present), and even the team’s history, shed an irredeemable light on the more disagreeable of the two goliaths in the NBA.
Each franchise has an attitude to them, an aura that they exude that essentially describes that team in a nutshell. For the Knicks that aura is futility, for the Clippers it’s desperation, for the Lakers it’s flashiness, and for the Celtics it’s 100% pure arrogance. No other team in any sport has ever believed in their own supremacy and fallen so in love with their own reign like the Boston Celtics have. It’s as if just by being the Celtics they have a higher calling to win, like it’s their innate right simply by playing in Boston. Maybe it’s because Red Auerbach would routinely flood the toilets and turn off the heating or AC in the visitors’ locker room, maybe it’s because the Celtics stole Robert Parish away for nothing, or maybe it’s because they kidnapped Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett for an oft injured Al Jefferson and an underachieving Jeff Green, but the arrogance of the Celtics comes from a complete absence of humility.
This is a franchise that really hasn’t known any hardship for the entirety of their history. And because of that, everyone in the organization, from management, executives, coaches, and players carry this aura that they can do whatever the hell they want, because things will always work out for the Celtics. Which it has! For however much fans will lament the death of Len Bias (the only real tragedy the franchise has ever faced), there’s no guarantee that he wouldn’t have been a bust, the franchise was still going to fall to shit as the early 90s were completely devoid of quality prospects (save for Shaq), and they swiped the pick from Seattle in another trade heist, so they were lucky to even have selected him at all.
Despite this inhumane arrogance, the Celtics carry with them this very impersonal and off-putting burden of having to dominate the rest of the league –As if they were on a holy crusade to not just win, but to suppress every other team and assert their own superiority over them. It’s like they want you to know that they’re better than you. No Celtic fan will ever let you forget that their team won eight championships in a row, but what they won’t tell you is that those team routinely had more than five Hall of Fame players on the team, or that there were only nine teams in the league at that point, which made winning a whole lot easier. It seems then, that they want to suffocate you with the immensity of their history and blind you to the fact that since the NBA merger, as the league expanded and excellent players became more of an abundance, they’ve only won four championships.
The Celtics have also had some of the biggest assholes in the league play for them over the course of their history. Paul Pierce is way more smug and self-satisfied than George Clooney could ever aspire to be. Kevin Garnett will make fun of you for having dead parents. Jason Terry knees other players in the balls. Kevin McHale, who leeched off of Larry Bird and Robert Parish once described his skills as “putting opponents in the torture chamber”. Kelly Olynyk ripped Kevin Love’s shoulder out of its socket and then said it was an accident. Tommy Heinsohn was the dirtiest player of the 60s, often kicking and punching Wilt Chamberlain in the back. Danny Ainge is so unlikable, that even though he was bit by another player during a fight, everyone convinced themselves that the opposite had actually happened. Only Red Auerbach or whichever other jerk-off is calling the shots now would actually want these players.
The Lakers have a national fanbase because they’re a fun franchise with likable players and a light-heartedness that doesn’t intimidate people. No one outside of Boston likes the Celtics because they’re run by shrewd smokers with Napoleonic Complexes, they seek out the biggest assholes in the league to play for them, and they constantly try to assert their own superiority at every turn…even when they suck. This year’s playoff series where Olynyk purposely injured Kevin Love, and where Isaiah Thomas tried to step on Kyrie Irving’s foot, and where Jae Crowder kept elbowing and punching Lebron and J.R. Smith are all prime examples of who the Celtics are as a team and how they operate. The thought is “OK, you’re gonna beat us, but we’ll take some of your guys down with us”. They did that to J.R. Smith in 2013, Kurt Rambis in 1984, and to Tree Rollins in 1983. What’s worse is that despite their winning ways, and the offensive ways of trying to convey their superiority to the rest of the league, they act like a bunch of sore losers when things don’t go their way…which it rarely does to being with.
The Celtics are unlikable because they take themselves way too seriously, and see it not only as their mission, but their personal right to abuse every other team in the league. From the way their players act, and the numerous one-sided trades that they enacted, the Celtics are a franchise that has no respect of the other 29 teams in the league. It’s so easy to hate the Celtics because they give you so many reason to hate them. I guess you can call this the “Red Auerbach Effect”.
 Except for 76ers and Suns fans who would remain as conscientious objectors. Larry Bird’s Celtics were the Jacob to Dr. J’s 76ers, while the Showtime Lakers were the Roger Klutz to their Doug Funny. The entire state of Arizona will never forget the 1976 NBA Finals, nor will they ever forgive Steve Nash for jumping ship to chase championships in L.A.
 Boston has 17 and L.A. has 16. Although since 1980, Boston has only won 4, while L.A. has gone on to claim 10. No Bill Russell, no problem apparently.
 McHale is also the same motherfucker who clotheslined Kurt Rambis from behind during the 1984 NBA Finals. McHale then quickly ran off to his bench like a little bitch.