Lakers fans are known for hating Boston. Now the Celtics are making a bad year worse

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum wore a purple and gold #24 armband honoring Lakers legend Kobe Bryant during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals May 29 in Miami. (Lynne Sladky/Associated Press)

Cynthia Amerio knows better. she swears

Hate is not a positive emotion – empty calories for the soul. But you have to know not to be hateful and the Boston Celtics are playing for their 18th NBA championship.

“I don’t like the uniform. I don’t want anything to do with them,” said Amerio, a 55-year-old from Sierra Madre. “…If Boston was the last team in the NBA, I would take cricket.”

It’s been a rough couple of months for Lakers fans like Amerio, the team’s bitter rivals, who penned a finals run built around a likable core of players. If they wore different colors and just played in a different zip code, Amerio would cheer for them, especially against a Bay Area team like the Golden State Warriors.

But instead they are damned to the coldest corners of their hearts.

“I don’t like Golden State that much, but Boston can’t get 18th. They can’t,” Amerio said. “It took us years to get to 17th and I can’t see that two years later, they turn 18 and we’re sitting on the sidelines.”

It’s a strange time for the Lakers-Celtics rivalry. Boston star Jayson Tatum is a student of Kobe Bryant, who even wore a Bryant armband for Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Rajon Rondo won titles in both cities. And Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and Boston owner Wyc Grousbeck are partners in a tequila brand.

Fortunately for Amerio and Lakers fans, happier times for the championship-court rivalry are well-documented — happier times that HBO’s “Winning Time” has happily recreated based on two iconic words in team history.


The show used the phrase at pivotal moments, making it a key motivational point for the Lakers. (The show also included a memorable scene of Jerry West driving through Boston wishing Paul Revere had slept in).

Max Borenstein, the Valley-born showrunner for “Winning Time,” said the phrase became a rallying cry in the first season. It was originally written sparingly into a few scripts, but one of the show’s directors, Payman Benz, saw its potential.

“It hadn’t occurred to me – and I don’t know why – but it hadn’t occurred to me that it was a moment to remember. And Payman… he just loved it.

“He let the actors bring in more than the script said, and that was really great. He knew. He said we should put more “F—Boston.” And I said, ‘Damn yes!’ ”

They didn’t have to convince Borenstein. He still bears the wounds from the Celtics’ win over the Lakers in 2008. The 2010 win helped — sweet redemption, Borenstein said — but it wasn’t enough to stop him from holding back on “Winning Time.”

Kobe Bryant celebrates the Lakers' Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics at the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center.Kobe Bryant celebrates the Lakers' Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics at the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant celebrates the Lakers’ Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics at the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Michael Chiklis, the actor cast as Red Auerbach, provided the necessary balance — a die-hard Boston sports fan from Lowell, Mass., who broke the bar for broken Red Sox the night Bill Buckner saw a baseball split his wickets. fans served.

He’s got his laugh now. He spoke about the current status of the two teams – one in the final, the other with so many questions.

“But you know what I would love more — if the Lakers were good right now. … It’s just not nearly as fun,” Chiklis said. “It’s so much more fun when they’re both great and at war with each other.

“There is a hole, a gap that the Lakers are struggling with. As much as I hate them, I’d rather see them hunt and watch us fight them. … It’s fun to grind in the face of my Lakers fan friends that they suck. But at the same time I would prefer if they were better.”

If that sounds like the high road, it’s very temporary.

“Yeah, I hate the Lakers. I mean yes,” said Chiklis. “From 1981 to 1985 I went to Boston University. I screamed until I had no voice with this team. And yes, I called James Worthy “Worthless”. We yelled at all these guys.”

Marcus Smart, who watched “Winning Time” and laughed at the Boston slur, said the team feels that energy whenever they leave the Boston Garden.

“Everywhere we go, people are always talking,” Smart said. “It’s really not about you. It’s just the Boston name. We’re a historic franchise and a franchise like the Boston Celtics, that’s part of it. When you do something bigger, you are part of a great culture. It happens. You take it and run with it.”

Whatever happens in Game 6 on Thursday, it’s going to ruin someone’s night.

It could be like it was in the early ’80s when Amerio sat outside a San Diego bar and sobbed at the curb. Or when Borenstein thinks of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Or when Chiklis yelled at James Worthless and Tragic Johnson.

Hopefully it’s only temporary.

Maybe it won’t

“I hated [Kevin] McHale. And I’m a lady,” Amerio said. “But if I saw him on the street today, I would smack him on the nose.

“…Now that I have my three boys, they don’t like Boston. And all because of me – I hope.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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