I generally would not consider myself to be a gambling man, not when it comes to sports anyway. The swings of emotion and unpredictability of the action are generally enough to keep my heart racing too fast as it is, thank you very much. Making any wagers to pile on top of this emotional rollercoaster, would probably be enough to send me to an early grave.
Last night, though I broke this rule and made a bet on the the result of game 5. I watched the contest at The Draft, a local bar in Boston with a number of friends including my roommate Cal. Cal and I are an odd pairing considering the fact he is a huge Lakers AND Yankee fans, so many could consider the friendship to be a bit unorthodox to say the least. I haven’t minded it much given that I have been rooting for the winning side in the past few years.
Despite despising the Green, Cal has actively watched the majority of the Celtics games with me this year, giving his unbiased opinion of the hated enemy. I like to turn to him in times of uncertainty during Celtics games for his honest two cents. Unlike other C’s fans who will get too high or too low in their reaction to the events of these contests, Cal can look past any rooting interest and tell you fairly accurately how he expects things to break down.
Last night was one of those nights I turned to Cal for guidance. He missed much of the game’s early action as the game wore on for three quarters with the Celtics showing limited signs of life and the Magic responding to any mini run the Celtics made with a big basket of their own.
Things looked bleak for even the most devoted Celtic fans at this point. Ray wasn’t shooting, Rondo looked like a rookie, Perk had a bad shoulder, Scal was sick, the list went on. The team had the look of an overmatched foe that had played above its head all year and it looked to be the beginning of the end.
Then miraculously, the Celtics recovered and found a pulse. Marbury couldn’t miss and Big Baby was making tough post shots over the NBA defensive player of the year. These events also coincided with Cal’s arrival at the bar.
Yet despite the tell tale signs of the C’s resilience to hang in there, I still wasn’t convinced of a full comeback. I had been teased by the team in game 1 when the team let its opportunities to steal a win slip away. Orlando called timeout at this point, up 8 with about 4 minutes left and I walked over to Cal for what his instincts told him about this one.
“It’s over. You guys have it in the bag.” He told me.
“But I don’t know man, we did this in game 1 and couldn’t finish them off.” I responded.
“Believe me, I’ve seen enough Celtics and Red Sox games the last few years to know when they will comeback and finish off their opponents. Tonight’s one of these.”
“Tell you what. Let’s make a bet. If the Celtics don’t win this game, I’ll buy you a beer and if they win, you have to buy me one. I’ll save you the trouble and let you know now I want a Harpoon”
After a quick bit of deliberation with myself, I accepted the bet, thinking wisely I was hedging my rooting interest and if the C’s did somehow find a way to pull it out, I’d be happy to buy him (along with everyone else at this bar probably) a drink.
I returned to my seat, and obviously everyone knows what happens from there. I would look over to Cal every couple minutes gleefully and he just turned and nodded disgustedly. No one hated to see the Celtics win more than Cal. But he also had seen them enough to know when they would. It’s easy to hate the fans of the enemies, but the truth is a lot of them know our teams almost as well as we do.
Two minutes later, I headed over to the bar with the goofy smile on my face and placed my order. Buying a beer for someone else never felt so good.