Defiant spirit of Boston reminds us of what is best about America
Bostonians are a seriously different breed of Homo sapien. If you’ve seen the film “Goodwill Hunting,” or been in a sports bar when a group of Red Sox fans were watching the ball game, this isn’t a total news flash.
It’s well-known that the folks from Boston are wound a little tighter, talk a little tougher and — how to say this delicately — exude a little more emotion than most of the rest of us.
Two years ago, I took my son to a Denver Nuggets game when the Boston Celtics were in town. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were way more than the Nuggs could handle. The game was over midway through the third quarter and, Nuggets fans being the fair-weather type that we are, the Pepsi Center mostly cleared out before the fourth quarter even started.
There was, in fairness, no shame in leaving the Pepsi Center early given the circumstances. The worst kind of doldrum in all of professional sport is an NBA blowout.
Chase and I stayed. I paid 50 bucks for our seats. Short of the roof collapsing or something, we weren’t going anywhere
The composition of the rest of the crowd was about 200 Nuggets-backers and, you see where this is going, 2,000 Boston Celtics fans.
What made the whole event so memorable — and at that time, so utterly annoying — was that the Celtics fans refused to sit quietly in their seats and relish the glories of their resounding win over Carmelo Anthony and the Boys. Oh, no. In the vacuum of the departure of most of the Nuggets faithful, the Boston loyalists hijacked the arena during the fourth quarter, turning the scene at Pepsi Center into the equivalent of a Celtics home game.
For the near-entirety of that final period — even during television time-outs, even at the beer stand, even in the stalls in the men’s room — those couple thousand Celtics fans chanted at the top of their lungs over and over: “Let’s go, Celtics. Let’s go, Celtics. Let’s go, Celtics.”
The folks from Boston are known for such defiant boosterism. Last year, in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, losing by 20 points to Lebron James and the hated-Miami Heat, the Celtics fans defiantly chanted at the top of their lungs over and over and over the same thing: “Let’s go, Celtics.”
Their message to Lebron, et al., was pretty clear: “You may have won, but we’re still Boston. We’re not going anywhere, so go pound sand, ya jerk.”
These Bostonians are a different breed, fo-sho. But until last Friday night, little did we know.
Most cities — most people — would meet the end of a brutal, life-ending saga like the events surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing with tears and reflection and relief.
Not Celtics fans and not Boston.
Instead of candle-light vigils, the streets of Boston filled with cheers and chants, high-fives and flag-waving.
Yes, there were hugs and tears, but they were significantly outnumbered by fist-pumps and chants of “U-S-A.” Cops, firefighters and other first-responders received thundering applause that made the whole scene feel more like Larry Legend’s last game at the Boston Garden than the nerve-center for first-responders in the wake of a domestic terrorist attack.
Boston, after five fear-subsumed days that must have been the worst in that city’s long history, had a little something that it wanted to tell whoever was watching. In chorus, the city wanted the world to know that it was unbowed. Unshaken. Defiant.
Inspriringly, unalterably, epically defiant.
Last weekend’s outpouring by that peculiar brand of humanoid known as Bostonian painted a vivid picture of what’s good in humanity, and what’s great about America. The human spirit is a remarkable thing to behold. And Boston’s peculiar version is even more so.
For Boston and for America, defiance never felt as good as it did last Friday. In the faces of those cheering on the streets of Boston under the most dreadful of circumstances, we saw what is good in us all.
Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.