Writing For Rodney – Day 21

The first pro football game I ever went to was the New England Patriots vs the New York Jets. Nowadays a classic rivalry, but back then they were just two tweets to me. The hometown team and the other guys.  The Patriots ended up beating the Jets 56-3, which, in any sport, would be a huge margin. On this day, it was a literal embarrassment for the Jets. But it was a complete thrill for a 6 year old kid at his first ever big time sporting event, and it kicked off a lifelong obsession with events for me.

Since then, Ive pretty much never passed up an offer to go to a major event, sporting or otherwise. But in those early years, there weren’t a lot of chances.  Not as many as there would come to be, anyways, and not as many as I would have liked in that time. But, more than most kids had, probably.

My dad was big into sports and would take me to one game a year, by each of our local Boston teams. The New England Patriots for football, the Boston Celtics for basketball and the Boston Red Sox for baseball. He never took me to a Boston Bruins game. My dad didn’t like hockey. He didn’t even care about it, really. Not sure why. He always just shrugged it off. So I never got the chance to go to a game. Or play, for that matter. But I remember sitting in our family room, watching the Bruins play on. WSBK – Channel 38. Back then Hockey was wi=ld. These crazy characters would crash into each other with violent hits, and fire a hard ribber disk at speeds over 100 MPH with long wooden sticks. Sometimes they would hit each other with those sticks. Or the puck. Or their huge bodies. But sometimes, when you were lucky, which was usually at least once a game, if n to more, they would hit each other with their fists. 

Watching a hockey fight break out was insane. The guys would just throw their gloves down on the ice and start a boxing match. On ice. With sharp as fuck knives attached to their feet. And the rest of the player, AS WELL AS THE REFEREES, would just stand around them in a. Circle and wait for one guy to knock the other one down to the ice. That would, usually, signal the end of the fight, and both guys would stop. Not always, but usually. Sometimes there would be so much animosity built up that these monster would keep on fighting. Those times were my favorite. Looking back now, it’s not hard to see why I loved hockey so much. Or why it’s gone on to become my favorite sport to go see live.

Just a few months after that Patriots vs Jets game, the Boston bruins travelled to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers, and the greatest fights of all time broke out. Taking things way beyond your average hockey fight, the Boston Bruins actually went up into the stands and beat the hell out of a bunch of Rangers fans at the Garden. Defenseman Mike Millbury even beat one fans with the poor guy’s OWN SHOE!

I’m dead serious. See for yourself!!

That’s the kind of things DREAMS are made of. Especially for impressionable 6 year old boys. Im not sure how may folks hid that one from me as a kid, butI didn’t find out about it until many many years later. I guess at 6pm I wasn’t staying up to watch the local news at 11pm, or reading the sports pages. Which is a bummer, because I wish I had been. I would have Demanded that my dad buy season tickets to the Bruins that very next day. Not that my demands as a kid held any weight. Hell, it wasn’t unity I was working  different jobs in high school that I finally had the money and wherewithal to buy myself Bruins trip kets and go to a game. With a sweet young thing who worked at the local burger king. Man, those were a memorable bunch of dates. But I digress…

Of the teams I did get to go see live in my youth. Only was a real winner. Sure, the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl in 1986, which was the end of the 1985 season. But they got thrashed 46-10 by the Chicago Bears, and it would be a whole until they got good again. And then there were the Red Sox, which we willet into tomorrow.

But the Celtics. Man the Boston Celtics. One fo the best all time teams in the NBA. Going back to the 1950’s where they had an incredible run of 8 straight NBA titles from 1959-1966. But that team they had in the 80s was an absolute pleasure to be able to watch on TV, and then in person once a year. The core of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Jonson and Danny Ainge, and later Bill Walton, was literally incedible. Larry Bird was easily the nest white guy to ever play in the NBA, and was knows as “the Hick From French Lick” He veritably wasn’t blessed with a lot of natural athletic ability. But he made up for it ion sheer grit, determination, and hard work. Watching him made you feel like anything was possible. And his teammates were a bunch of the same. Especially when compared to the glitzy and sinewy specimens that made up the Los Angeles Lakers of the 80s. The SHOWTIME team as they were known. They were everything the Celtics weren’t. Cool, good looking, prone to fast and flashy fats breaks. And physically and skillfully dominant. Their start was Earvin “MAGIC” johnson. With a million megawatt smile. It was like he was made to play in Hollywood. And he led his hard charging Lakers against the “Hick From French Lick” and his Celtics. It was like a real life version of the Harlem Globetrotters vs the Washington Generals, but int his version the Generals sometimes won.

Thought the 80s, both teams were dominant in their divisions. And they ended up in the finals three times. With the Lakers besting the Celtics twice.  Thought the Celtics still managed to win 3 NBA titles in the 80s. 

Going back now and watching those Larry Bird highlights, those plays seem even more amazing to me now than they did back then. Im so lucky to have got to witnessed them, and they have gone on to keep being a com petite team, even winning a title in 2008. Nowadays though, they do it with pretty much zero white fellers. But thats pretty much the way the entire NBA goes now.

The Patriots have of course, gone on to be one of the most impressive dynasties in the history of the NFL. And are the only Boston team I still identify with, because they kept putting out decent albums. The Red Sox, on the other hand. That’s a whole other ball of wax, which we will get into tomorrow….