When the bombs went off last week and the nation turned its eyes to Boston, I had a typical series of responses. Shock, confusion, anger. Sadness. After those traditional emotions cooled, a thought crept into the back of my head: I really hope this doesn't affect the Knicks/Celtics playoff series. Will a strong city become even stronger and pull out an upset? Will our guys play soft, not wanting to beat down a team and a city that's already endured so much? Will our fans cheer quietly out of pity? I know I won't. I'm proud to cheer against Boston, especially in their most tragic hour, not in spite of it.
I raised these concerns to a co-worker, and she said, "Well, why don't you just cheer for the Knicks instead of against the Celtics?" Because that's not how New York/Boston rivalries work. It's not just basketball. The most common cheer at a Yankees/Red Sox game in Fenway is "Yankees Suck!" And we wouldn't have it any other way.
Boston is a tough town, and they want tough love. It would be disrespectful to them as a city for us to do anything but hold up our end of the rivalry. Yes, at the start of Game 1, we honored the fallen and the first responders. But I fully expect Kevin Garnett to be booed at the start of Game 2. We're supposed to boo KG. That's the fuel on the fire of the rivalry, and that fire is part of what keeps Boston sports strong. We hate them, they hate us. They love to hate us. If we behave with pity, we take that away from them. And nobody wants that. When Paul Pierce drains a dagger 3 to silence the Garden, we take away Boston's satisfaction if the Garden is already observing a moment of silence.
They say if you change your lifestyle to accommodate terrorism, then you're letting the terrorists win. I agree. I'm not going to change my lifestyle one bit. I'm not just going to cheer for the Knicks. I'm going to cheer just as hard against the Celtics, booing their stars, jeering their bench. I'm proud to cheer against them. It's my way of honoring them.