The right thing to have hoped for, at the outset of Thursday night’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals, if you were a true neutral fan, was a Game 7. The series was very good and featured some extremely high-quality hoops action, but through five games it had not yet produced a memorable finish, or even a particularly closely contested game. The two Boston wins came by a combined 24 points; the three Golden State wins, heading into Game 6, had come by a combined 39 points. A great result, for a true neutral, would’ve had the series going the distance, and producing two down-to-the-wire nail-biters.
Through five games of the series, I thought of myself as a true neutral. Then the Celtics opened the game with a shocking 14–2 run, the Boston crowd was whipped into an immediate frenzy, and I realized three things, pretty much all at once:
- The Celtics winning Game 6 would mean euphoria for the approximately 20,000 Boston sports fans crowding their arena, and the thousands more that filled the sold-out lower bowl of Fenway Park’s Game 6 watch party
- The Warriors winning a potential Game 7 Sunday night, at home, would mean euphoria for the approximately 18,000 fair weather-ass Silicon Valley-ass Warriors “fans” filling Golden State’s blasphemous San Francisco “home” arena
- The only way for the series to go seven games without producing both of those outcomes would be for the Celtics to win Game 7 on the road, thus supplying another championship and another round of euphoria for Boston sports fans.
So it was not possible to be truly neutral about Game 6, at least not while continuing to consider yourself a moral person. This is the most likable Celtics team in decades, but it is simply impossible to enjoy their success when it comes in front of a euphoric Boston home crowd. Early in the game, with the Celtics opening up a big lead and appearing poised for another emphatic victory, it seemed like it would be this kind of night:
Unacceptable! Thankfully, in the end the game produced the only satisfactory outcome: Bostonians watching in stunned horror as all their hopes and dreams shriveled and died, one brutal Jayson Tatum lowlight at a time, and a Warriors “home” crowd denied the opportunity to celebrate the championship on the “home” floor. Whew! Instead of the many happy bros of Boston or the many happy crypto investors of Golden State, we got this:
A title team we can all feel good about, a satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable NBA season, and precisely zero Getty images of people who I strongly dislike feeling happy about the outcome of a basketball game. Nice!