Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Behind Enemy Lines - Boston, Mass.

I guess I was asking for it. Still basking in the glow of last Tuesday night's Lakers win over the Boston Celtics, I confidently went forth to spend 47 hours behind enemy lines. Everyone in that town wore either red (Red Sox) or green (Celtics), and many had new shirts that just read "BEAT LA!" I'm used to being a minority in everyday life because I speak English, but in Boston I felt very alone with my SoCal roots.

It was Thursday evening, and I had just finished an outstanding meal at Clio. I changed into my Lakers t-shirt, but thought it best to cover with a button-up just until I found a safe place to watch Game 4. There was a pretty cool pub named Daisy Buchanan's with plenty of televisions, and I didn't see too many jerseys... it looked fairly laid-back. Perhaps that was because the Lakers were still up by 20 points. Once inside and in a somewhat inconspicuous spot, I decided to show my colors. There was a unique disruption in The Force. The girl nearby, obviously looking to be noticed scoffed. The bartender attempted to charge me $40 for a $4 beer while struggling to keep his composure as a tipped employee obligated to keep certain things left unsaid. I was semi-politely admonished by several patrons that I "should be careful." What is this, the wild west?

At this juncture, I had reached the point of no return. I was proud of my team, and that was that. To their credit, many with whom I spoke were understanding (if that's not too strong a word) when I told them I was from Southern California and just there for a visit. They seemed to respect that. Well, I'm thinking "respect" might be too strong a word, too, because it wasn't long before the Celtics started scoring and the volume in the room got a lot louder and livelier.

Now in roughly 20 years in sports, both as a player and a coach, you learn how to lose with dignity. This... was something very new. Not only did my team lose, but they choked. And I was the only loser in the (very packed, at this point) sports bar. I heard it from EVERYBODY. "What happened to your boy Kobe?!!" "You guys suck! Ha, ha!!" "Better watch out!" This was a very peculiar situation. I decided the best course of action was to keep smiling and be very congratulatory; don't let anything bother you. I gave a few high-fives... "Good game! Good game!" I bought the guy closest to me a beer (but definitely not the scoffing girl). He said thanks and accepted, but also that "I won't protect you though." (He shook my hand when he left.)

I found that in the face of severe embarrassment, staying positive and resolute can turn a potentially ugly situation with an adversary into an ambassadorship of character and good will. Reading too much into it? Perhaps, but you try it.

Public Garden

Mark Wahlberg at The Happening premiere

1 comment:

escamillaweddings said...

i miss you, my friend.

glad you stayed positive.
i did too...only for the "other" team. :)

i'll be a fan of the lakers again when kobe leaves. although i must say...i saw him play more as a team player during these finals than i remember him doing, well...ever.

on with Euro2008, the road to the World Cup, and go Angels (and Cubs)!!!