I Went On Boston Sports Talk Radio To Get Yelled At About My Take On Boston’s Love Of White NBA Players
Here's a bit of advice for those of you who have any sort of issue with the city of Boston: if you want to avoid conflict, keep it to yourself. After a posting an article about the racial subtext of Celtics fans' pregame cheers for Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward -- they're the only fanbase in the NBA that applauds him besides, ya know, Jazz fans -- the mentions started piling up on my Twitter feed.
Here's a taste of some of the diplomatic counterarguments I received:
@_JakeODonnell you are a stupid piece of shit. Celtics fans wanted Kevin Durant the most of any player ever
— Matt Perry (@MPfourthree43) January 4, 2017
Hey @_JakeODonnell U wanted your 15 minutes of fame. Now u have it. Stop being a pussy & defend yourself...if u can
— greg dickerson (@gdickerson_mass) January 5, 2017
Then there was the "Celtics fans are the kindest people in the world" rebuttal...
— Raymund ∞ (@Raymundg15) January 5, 2017
But the most popular reaction, by far, was the "we cheered for black guys too so we can't be racist" syllogism, also known as the "I have a black friend" defense...
@_JakeODonnell Better for your writing if you "forget' the standing ovation at the Garden for Kevin Durant last year? Unoriginal
— Matt Forde (@MattForde2) January 5, 2017
In fairness, some Celtics fans did cheer for Kevin Durant when he was about to become a free agent, as they did with DeMarcus Cousins, and I did not mention this in my original article. My sincerest apologies. However, none of that changes the fact that I never implied that Celtics fans were incapable of appreciating non-white free agents. I wasn't trying to say that ALL Boston fans prefer ANY white player to ALL black players. Most Boston sports fans are decent people who judge athletes by their athletic ability. Most Boston sports fans are no different than the fans in New York or Los Angeles or Milwaukee.
My point was/is that there must be an underlying reason as to why Celtics fans seem to be the only fans in the NBA cheering for Gordon Hayward -- an extremely white basketball player -- and it can't only be because he played for Brad Stevens in college. You know why? Hayward's teammate Shelvin Mack also played for Brad Stevens (he's a free agent next summer, too), yet the crowd wholly ignored him during player introductions. On one hand, I understand why no one would cheer for someone as unexceptional as Shelvin Mack, but on the other hand, the same can be said for Gordon Hayward, which is why other fans do not cheer Gordon Hayward when he's in visiting arenas. What exactly is the criteria that Boston Celtics fans look for when deciding which opposing players to root for? The way I see it, there are two types of free agents who get the red carpet treatment in Boston: superstars and white guys who are pretty good.
Just because TD Garden has cheered black MVP-caliber free agents in the past doesn't mean there isn't something odd about their unique reaction to an objectively less sought after white one. After all, these are the same fans who ignored bench players until Brian Scalabrine walked to the scorer's table, at which point an entire stadium acted as if one of their relatives had just entered the game. When taken in conjunction with the city's past, this behavior connotes a racial subtext. Optics 101, folks.
All I was/am getting at is that, to my eye, Boston fans seem to have a particularly noticeable affinity for white players. Other fans elsewhere do, as well, it's just more pronounced in Boston. Full stop.
Needless to say, the WEEI sports talk radio team of Kirk Minihane (of Erin-Andrews-is-a-gutless-bitch fame) and Gerry Callahan (who once compared a gorilla to black kids) did not agree. Soooooo, when they asked me to come on their show and defend myself, I agreed to do so knowing full well it wouldn't be fun or constructive by any definition whatsoever.
I was wrong -- it was fun, albeit because I was high on adrenaline after being told "you suck" two minutes into the interview. As far as how much our conversation will contribute to the dissolution of deep-seated racial preferences lurking inside sports fans, well, let's just say that the three of us won't be accepting a Nobel Peace Prize anytime soon.
I still think a good chunk of Celtics fans have a disturbingly strong affinity for white basketball players.
Celtics fans still think I'm a race-baiting Brooklyn troll who puts pageviews up his butt for pleasure (it feels so good though!).
Ultimately, the fact that my opinion managed to offend so many people speaks volumes about the point I was getting at in the first place: there's a lack of perspective among Boston sports fans. The visceral backlash to my implication that race might play a role in the Gordon Hayward cheering makes me feel like I'm onto something. A sort of the-fanbase-doth-protest-too-much situation.
If what I had published on the web's 80th-most trafficked sports blog was, in fact, completely ridiculous, Celtics fans would've ignored it, but they didn't, presumably because they see stuff like this happen at home games and know that I'm not totally full of it. Then again, maybe these fans are such paragons of racial tolerance that any and all suggestions to the contrary send them on a righteous crusade to prove otherwise. That may be the case, sure, it's just that I tend to think people who see this much red definitely see other colors, too.
Watch me "backtrack" and "get embarrassed" for being "exposed as a race-baiter", here.
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