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by John Cardullo, sports
After what seemed to be a never-ending season, both professional Basketball and Hockey finally get to the play-offs!
For the marathon seasons of professional basketball and hockey, with the spring having already sprung, it means that the play-offs will begin for both sports. The Boston Celtics are already hip high in their round one play-off series with the Brooklyn Nets as the Boston Bruins are still positioning themselves for the play-off run.
For both the Celtics and the Bruins, their seasons had begun back in October. That’s six months ago, the winter was over a month away, professional football was in the middle of their season and baseball was still hitting the diamond in their play-offs. Back in the fall, when all this professional activity was going on, the professional sports fan was in sports eutopia! As all of this was going on, college basketball and hockey crowned their champions (Kansas was the Men’s NCAA champion, South Carolina won the Women’s NCAA crown. The Men’s NCAA hockey championship went to Denver and the ladies crowned the Ohio State Lady Buckeyes NCAA champions).
As far as the professional ranks are concerned. the play-offs are known as the sports second season. However, as each of the sports are concerned, the season seems endless with almost half of each league making the play-offs and trying to take advantage of the momentum of the “hot” March set up that the colleges provide. But there is a division of interest that both professional sports provide their fan base. In Hockey, the play-offs are often edge of your seat nail biters! Every game seems to be a one goal last minute stress fest for their fans as basketball seems to lose its luster. The NBA’s inability to prevent their star players from putting together their own version on a pickup team (sorry, LeBron). It is now more often than not that the team that amasses the most star power often makes the run to the NBA championship. Gone are the days when teams built from the draft made it to the NBA’s biggest stage. For those teams that don’t make a play-off run, they too look into the buy them, rather than draft them, mentality, so the cycle just goes round and round!
The other difference of both sports is when the NBA gets into their play-off run, the white hot spotlight shows a league where the starts rule the sport and the focus is totally on the offense and scoring as many points as possible while often ignoring defense completely, throwing away the concept that defense wins championships. This concept is totally the opposite as the NHL marches through the play-offs, defense often shines, and the games often are won by a single goal or in overtime.
As for the fans of both sports, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Throw in the start of baseball season, Professional Golf, NASCAR and the revamped USFL and all the options that the colleges provide, sports are on virtually 24 hours a day every day of the week.
The bottom line is that the teams in both sports are in the sports entertainment business to make money and that they do! They make millions of dollars respectfully and this is the biggest reason that both sports play what like seems a never-ending regular season and go onto three round of conference play offs before landing in the finals.
As the teams themselves are concerned, their goal to make the play-offs may be monetarily motivated but as we witnessed over the years, the Boston teams seem to play for a little more, they seem to carry a sports wild region on their backs. We are a fan base that live and die with what our hometown teams do, and not just in the play offs, but in each and every game they play. This is why the Boston teams have been as successful over the last several years – the Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and yes, the Revolution have achieved a level of success. Each franchise in each sport doesn’t want to be the one who lets the region down. In turn, the fan base of each team holds each team as well as themselves accountable for the success of each team. If you don’t believe me, turn on any of the many sports radio or television programs and listen to the fans as they speak out on what they perceive as lackluster play, or what they consider their methods of correcting the failures that befall their teams and what they as fans can do to make the situation better. The New England sports fan is engaged and involved, and this is what makes the New England region one, if not the best sports regions in the country.
As both the Celtics and Bruins are concerned, the New England region is reinvested in “their” teams as each make their way into the play off’s and if both teams reach their goal of taking the Championship title back home to New England at the same time, can you imagine what a Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins day would look like being held on the same day in Fenway Park? While the Patriots show up in support? That would be a good day! And if you really think about it, this dream can really come true!
John Cardullo, sportswriter