By Sam Rubenstein

Hello 2008! Nice to see you, happy new year. We are back on schedule.

Fortunately and unfortunately I attended a sporting event the other night which has changed the way I view one of the feel good stories of the NBA season. The Boston Celtics are running away with best record in the league, and are doing so with a likeable cast of characters. I was aware that Boston sports fans are enjoying themselves right now, from their baseball team going from tortured rite of passage to the new Yankees, spending money without any sense of loyalty or remorse for mistakes. I knew their football team was a dynasty in what was supposed to be a post-dynasty world.

I had a little experience with Boston sports fans, but I’d never been there at the epicenter of one of their crowning achievements. I witnessed the full glory in person of what has come to be known as the ma$$hole, at it’s horrifying worst.

For you see, I was at the Giants-Patriots game on Saturday night, and the fans were out in large numbers to watch their unstoppable juggernaut shatter records as they put the finishing touch on the undefeated regular season dream. This was not some media work related press pass and quiet professional viewing. I went as a fan. Tailgating, screaming insults at the players, the whole thing.

The Boston/New England fans were big talkers in the parking lot, acting like they owned the place. Once we were inside the stadium, there were Patriots jerseys everywhere. Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Wes Welker, Mike Vrabel, you know all of the players that fanbase embraces. They were talking big before the game, emboldened by their 3 championships in football and 2 in baseball in the 2000s.

And then the game began.

And then the Giants acted the part that inspires my favorite quote in the history of describing a sporing event.

“THEY DON’T KNOW IT’S A DAMN SHOW, THEY THINK IT’S A DAMN FIGHT!” – Apollo Creed‘s trainer, from Rocky. I think his name was Duke.

Eli connected with Plaxico for a 52 yard pass on the second play of the game, and it were as if all of the Pats fans had taken a vow of silence. Not a word from them. Tommy carved up the Giants defense with some 3rd down screen passes, and when he combined with Randy Moss to tie those individual records they were chasing, followed by Randy drawing a penalty for excessive celebration, the Pats fans emerged from out of the woodworks to beat their chests.

Domenik Hixon, the man who began his season by tragically paralyzing Kevin Everett in Buffalo, ran the ensuing kickoff back for a TD. Right then I started to believe. The Pats fans disappeared into thin air once again. At halftime I made my way to the bathroom, which had a prison feel to it. In there, my fellow Giants fans were afraid to step up and claim the win, even with a lead at halftime. Pats fans, so bold and loud a few hours earlier, were keeping their heads down and avoiding eye contact. When confronted, they would say things like “As long as we win the Super Bowl again…”

In the early stages of the third quarter Eli hit Plaxico for a TD. It pushed the score to 28-16 GMen. I looked up and saw Eli’s numbers, which included 3 TD passes and a high completion percentage, with lots of yards per completion. That was when I really started to believe. Is Eli Manning not afraid to gunsling with Tom Brady? Is Brandon Jacobs bludgeoning the Belicheater’s defense? Would the 2007 Giants live forever as the one stain on the record of the best team ever, like the ’85 Dolphins on the Bears? Could this really be happening? Giants stadium was raucous. I believed. I actually felt bad about the thousands of Eli jokes me and my friends make to each other.

I believed.

When the defender covering Randy Moss fell down and Randy dropped an easy TD, I really thought this was our destiny. Fate. This was when I went over the line to the realm of the obnoxious live fan. I was screaming “Raaaaaaaannnnnddddyyyyy” in the Austin Powers voice “Do I make you raaaaaandy?” which was something I developed for Randy Johnson in the past.

Anyways, I was in the midst of one of my Raaaaaaaandy’s when it happened.

Tom Brady, Randy Moss, 65 yards, historic record breaking I dunno… the worst thing as a sports fan is when you start to believe in something, only to have it crushed by inevitability. For you heavy metal fans out there, it’s what you could call the sad wings of destiny.

The Patriots fans were suddenly the overwhelming majority. The rest of the game is a blur. We knew it was over, we tried to support the team again, but there was one bad interception, some other stuff, it just wasn’t meant to be. Thank you to the Giants players who gave their all in a meaningless game for them. Every team that rested starters in week 17 should have to come to my house and kiss my feet. Shoes off.

I spotted discarded champagne bottles in the parking lot, there were victory laps around the stadium in Patriot jerseys. It was over the top. Congrats you jerks.

And now to bring it back to the NBA…

I can not fault Lamar Odom for his flagrant foul. Nothing personal against Ray Allen. Nothing against the contingent of civilized Boston sports fans, but you guys are being dragged down by the louder side of your fanbase. Handle that.

Ray Allen and KG are two of the NBA’s only true “gentlemen athletes” as pioneered by Joe DiMaggio. Good for them, and it’s fun to have a new exciting team. I enjoy many of the Celtics players individually. Is it possible to want a team to succeed but not for their fans to enjoy it?

I have scars that will never heal from Saturday night. My favorite story in the NBA right now is Portland.

Welcome to 2008 everyone.