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I’m Thankful For The Boston Celtics (It’s not why you think)

The positive impact the Boston Celtics had on one Canadian youngster



Thanksgiving is a time when everyone reflects on what they are thankful for. Like most, I am thankful for my family, friends, health & job. I have a great life, but in my thanks I cannot forget the one team that helped me through some of my darkest times: the Boston Celtics. 

Growing up in Montreal in the early 80’s was a treasure trove for sports fans.  The Montreal Expos were beginning their run as the winningest team in the 80’s while the Montreal Canadiens were perennial Stanley Cup contenders. For sports heroes a kid could chose from the likes of Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Steve Rogers. It was awesome. However, on Sunday afternoons in the winter, after football season had ended, there was nothing for a sports fan to watch. 

My parents were going through a bitter divorce in 1980. On Sundays it would be my fathers time to see my brother & I.  He would pick us up and drive us to see his parents. Like clockwork we’d be sent down to the basement while the three of them would yell and scream at each other for reasons that for the life of me I can’t recall. My younger brother would cry. I would have no words to console him so I’d try to find anything on TV to calm him (and me) down. 

My grandparents didn’t have cable so we’d be stuck watching whatever was on CTV or CBC, usually Wide World of Sports (the most boring sports television program of all time) but one afternoon I decided to see what was on the snowy channel, WCAX TV, channel 3, North Pole - Burlington. They were a CBS affiliate. As the picture got clearer I recall seeing and hearing the announcers talk about a magician with a basketball, Pistol Pete Maravich. The game hadn’t started and they were all raving about Maravich and the wizardry he could do with a basketball. My brother and I picked up 2 pillows from the sofa and tried moving them around our backs, passing them between our legs - we were forgetting what was happening upstairs. 

We were playing the Detroit Pistons that Sunday afternoon. This was one of the first basketball games I’d ever seen. To my disappointment Pistol Pete hardly played even though the game was very close (Celtics were losing at halftime) but then something amazing happened, I started to notice a rookie named Larry Bird. Every time he touched the ball something amazing happened. Each possession was pure magic. Three point shots, behind the back passes, scoring baskets while being hounded by absolutely everyone on the visitors. I was in awe. The man would not let the Celtics lose. I had found a new hero to get me through those rough times. My brother never developed the love for basketball like I did but we’d still spend every Sunday afternoon playing with those basement pillows pretending that we were the Boston Celtics and I was Larry Bird. A life long love affair had begun. 

Steven Mayer 



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