The annual FanSided 250 was released yesterday, and there has been an egregious error: the Boston Celtics were ranked below the Brooklyn Nets for the ultimate fandoms of 2019.
FanSided (which is the network that powers this very site) does an incredible list every season for the readers: a comprehensive ranking of the most passionate fan-bases across sports and entertainment from 250 down to strongest fandom in any given year. The 2019 list was released on Tuesday and I got bad news for Boston Celtics fans.
Unfortunately, the powers that be felt that this fan-base is behind six others in the NBA. While I can swallow the pill of being below Drake (whose team he ambassadors for–the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship) and the Jonas Brothers (who wrote one of the year’s true slappers in “Sucker”), I absolutely object to one team in particular.
The Brooklyn Nets.
I have a very interesting viewpoint regarding that fan-base, being that I used to serve as the co-expert of Nothin’ But Nets back when the team featured household names like Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Quincy Acy playing significant minutes.
While there was a very passionate community of snarky Nets fans around #NBATwitter, the overall fandom surrounding the team was not vocal. Even when the team had Boston Celtics icons like Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett headlining the team during years where they went to the playoffs, they couldn’t corral the majority of the New York market.
The lowly, embarrassing, disappointing, league-wide punch-line New York Knicks were still the talk of the town when Andrea Bargnani was falling flat on his face attempting to dunk while robbing the franchise of over $20 million during his disastrous two years there.
Again though, even while the Knicks were embarrassing themselves, the Nets couldn’t grab a stranglehold of the city. Blame it on what you want, whether it be brand awareness (their black and white color scheme matched with an urban twist) or being confined to the borough of Brooklyn (they did use to have their own state in New Jersey and failed to convert fans there too), but the Nets’ first three years in Brooklyn was as good a time as any to establish a strong footing in the basketball world.
Admittedly, the Nets did make a huge leap towards being a premiere franchise league-wide. They signed a top-3 player in the league in 2x Finals MVP Kevin Durant and another fellow NBA Champion and All-NBA point guard in Kyrie Irving. The talent on the team is undeniable.
But even with the biggest off-season coup outside of the Clippers landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (minus points for DeAndre Jordan scheming Brooklyn out of $40 million), the Nets weren’t grabbing the back page headlines.
Instead, it was the Knicks and their $74 million in cap space being doled out to the likes of Wayne Ellington, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Julius Randle, Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock being discussed at length by New York media outlets. Moreso than the Nets.
Which brings the Houdini to the superior team–and fan-base: the Boston Celtics. The C’s have experienced more changes this season than any team in the league. They went from a 48-win team with incredible talent but mismatched from a personality standpoint to a team on pace for over 50 wins that has arguably less talent.
Let’s not forget that what Brooklyn gained in Irving, the Celtics waived goodbye to. And I’d like to add…the Celtics fan-base gladly did it. Irving was a bona-fide superstar in Boston. He was a two-time All-Star and received All-NBA honors for his 2018-19 efforts.
The vibe was off, though.
Boston Celtics fans sniffed out his nonsense ahead of time. He was like a cheating spouse who wasn’t covering his or her tracks up. Luckily, the next franchise point guard available on the free agent board this past summer also happened to be a 2011 lottery pick that landed on the All-NBA third team in 2018-19. Kemba Walker was the perfect replacement for Irving, considering the two have a pretty similar aesthetic to their game–with Walker being bouncier but Irving having the more creative offensive repertoire.
Going through the 2019 playoffs (watching Irving shoot the team out of the conference semifinals), then watching Al Horford depart to the Philadelphia 76ers and Aron Baynes get traded to the Phoenix Suns, and still coming out on the other side selling out every game this season should tell you how dedicated this fan-base is.
The Boston Celtics fandom is one that is so ingrained in American culture that it is almost hereditary. You see that in the loyalty shown to the green and white from those who saw Bill Russell collect hands worth of championship jewelry and now those who witnessed Isaiah Thomas‘ heart-stealing efforts in the 2017 playoffs.
To say they rank beneath the Brooklyn Nets is just wrong. The Houdini will always be happy to have the passion of the Boston Celtics fan-base backing us for as long as you guys do.