Somehow I scored not just good seats , but great seats; the best seats and to Michael Jordan’s last game in Boston, directly behind the Celtic’s bench, close enough to hear Antoine Walker scream “[Explicative]” after missing a key free throw in the fourth quarter. Close enough to grab a Gatorade from the Celtics drink tray. Close enough for Walter McCarty and Mark Blount to flirt and banter with my female friends during timeouts when they should have been paying attention to Coach O’Brien.
Close enough to be on television during every time out, prompting us all to call our significant others and parents telling them to turn the television to ABC immediately. Close enough to see and hear Michael Jordan emotionally harass Antoine Walker and anyone else who guarded him after hitting his patented fade away. And most importantly, we had better seats than Michael Bivins from New Edition/Bell Biv Devoe fame. But I’ll get to that later.
During the traffic packed drive to the Fleet Center, I professed that regardless of the source of the tickets, and despite the location of the game, I was going to openly cheer for the Wizards (The Wiz) even through Boston locals spitting on me. I’ve been a Jordan fan, wait, a religious devotee, since adolescence. I’m not afraid to openly say that I love him and having the opportunity to see one of his last games was the closest thing to heaven that I could experience in Boston during a 20 degree April day.
The Wiz didn’t fail me as they won a nail biter in overtime 99 to 98, thinly remaining in the playoff race. Jordan was clearly the player of the game scoring 25 with 7 assists and 13 rebounds. Boston’s Walter McCarty (aka McCarty-O because his number is 0) had a great game off of the bench for the Celtics scoring. Antoine Walker had an off shooting night (3-16 from the field) but compensated by dishing out 14 assists. The game seesawed for the entire game giving the fans their money’s worth.
Not having an internship yet, I jealously stared at a 9 year old kid pouring Gatorade for the Celtics. I wondered aloud how a kid got a job like that. One of my friends at the game then told me that I should have received a Job Bank notification had I set up my search agent properly.
There are costs and benefits to going to a basketball game with a man to woman ratio of 2:6. I’m going to now focus on a major draw back. Women: adult males do not dance at pro basketball games, particularly when one’s grandfather can see them on national television. This is a rule as documented in the guy code and cannot be changed. It doesn’t matter if the arena plays 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”. In that situation, I’m not a shorty, and it’s not my birthday. Through an anthropological perspective, we have to understand that guys grunt and yell at bad calls, and stand up and slap hands during ridiculous dunks. That’s what we do.
At any game with a woman, without fail, they always insist that not only do you dance, but you stand up during every musical break and dance until you all get on the stadium jumbotron. That’s the last thing we want; a historical record of our humiliation. One of my female friends even told me to “drop it like it’s hot” as she “took it to the floor”. I was like “Hell no, you drop it, I’ll watch”. Now that I’ve explained this, I don’t expect a guy anywhere at anytime to have to dance at a sports game.
McCarty-O became a problem for two reasons. First, the Wizards forgot to cover him several times, which led to several gut wrenching 3 pointers including one on the baseline right in front of us. Second, when my three female friends kept calling his name during timeouts, he kept looking over, smiling on the fringe of blushing. Now, I’m not a hater but Walter McCarty, are you kidding? He’s not the best looking player in the league.
Scene from Braveheart:
During close games, the Celtics play scenes from popular movies including Braveheart, where Mel Gibson, as William Wallace, pumps up the troops. Ordinarily the Fleet Center gets louder than the car horns on Storrow when a car breaks down. I think Michael Jordan was the X-Factor; today’s Celts fans aren’t die hard enough to want him to lose in his last visit to Boston. The crowd was apathetic as best; if my eyes were closed I could have easily thought Phil Mickelson had just sunk a par put in an unimportant golf tournament. The fans absolutely didn’t want it bad enough.
I thought he was supposed to be old. Metamucil, Ben Gay, and all, Jordan was incredible which was obvious from his stat line; he was three assists short of a triple-double (points, assists, and rebounds). During this season, he’s struggled at points, especially against younger, more athletic stars exactly like Boston’s Paul Pierce. However, down the stretch in a close game, Jordan turned up his game a notch, hitting three consecutive key fade-aways and making key passes literally willing the team to victory.
Plus he can still entertain. Reminiscent of the highlight reel move played over and over again, where Jordan pump faked an outside set shot with one hand, buckling Cliff Livingston’s knees like a fold up chair, Jordan again broke out the one handed pump fake baffling McCarty-O. The crowd broke out into a collective ‘ahhhhh’ and I was riveted.
So we were watching the games, minding our own business when Michael Bivins from Bell Biv Devoe shows up, only his seats are 5 rows behind ours. I’ll be honest, I was a huge New Edition/BBD fan as a kid – comparatively a magnitude ahead of my reverence for Justin Timberlake. As the game progressed, I would periodically look back over my shoulder to make sure it was real, that of all the people there, Biv was at the game too. I feel pretty confident that it wasn’t a Biv look alike. After the last buzzer sounded, Biv raced for the exits, until my friend (a woman, because guys can yell but not scream at sporting events) screamed out “Mr. Bivins”. He immediately turned around as we ran up the stairs to ask him if we could have a picture with him. He graciously accepted and looked as cool as 1992. When he walked away, my same audacious friend broke into a chorus of “Poison”. Biv responded by kissing two fingers and then spreading them into a peace sign as he spun away. This was clearly the best part of the game.