Erin Andrews, John Cena Q + A
Celtics fans Erin Andrews and John Cena talk about their favorite teams.
by Kyle Stack / @NYsportswriter
One of the interesting things about talking to sports personalities is finding out the teams they’ve cheered for since childhood. In the case of ESPN’s Erin Andrews and WWE’s John Cena, that would be a common bond as Celtics fans.
I spoke with both of them about the Celtics (and also about college basketball with Andrews) at a recent Gillette event in a basement lounge of the Hudson Hotel in New York City. (This was Tuesday afternoon, before Tom Izzo announced his decision to stay at Michigan State and before Game 6 of the NBA Finals.)
SLAM: Do you know what’s going to happen with Izzo?
Erin Andrews: I’m close with Izzo but I’m so in the dark with this. I have a feeling Izzo is not going to leave. The only thing I read in an article today that was a really good piont is that this is the most he’s talked with an NBA team. He doesn’t owe East Lansing anything. But it’s kind of like a situation where, do they have to be worried every year if he’s going to [possibly] leave?
SLAM: Do you feel like he, more than any other college coach, could make the jump to the League?
EA: I don’t know about any other coach. I’m a huge Calipari fan. I know he’s obviously been in the NBA before. I love Izzo, I’m a huge fan of him and he’s been very close with me the last couple years. I just wish him the best whatever he decides to do.
SLAM: There’s wasn’t much conversation during the college conference realignment rumors about how the basketball landscape would be affected.
EA: Right, well then everybody was talking if the Big 12 split up, was that fair for KU. That was a huge ordeal.
SLAM: How do you feel Colorado will fare in the Pac-10 and Nebraska in the Big 10?
EA: So I’ll cover Nebraska now since I cover the Big 10 [for basketball]. I didn’t get to cover much of Nebraska the past couple years but it’ll be interesting to see. I didn’t see much of Colorado, either. I am thankful that Texas stopped the bleeding and refused to leave [the Big 12].
SLAM: Do you think Texas A&M could’ve survived in the SEC had they made the switch?
EA: Texas has a ton of talent in the state. It’s sick, it’s ridiculous. My fear would be if Texas A&M went to the SEC, you are dealing with freaks on Alabama, on Florida, Georgia…Texas gets the main guys in that state and then OU gets them. And then Texas Tech. I don’t know if that would’ve been the best thing for Texas A&M.
SLAM: You’re a Celtics fan, right?
EA: Yeah, I am. My family is from New England. I was actually born in Maine but I’ve always been a Celtics fan.
SLAM: Which Celtics team do you prefer: 2010 or 2008?
EA: 2008 was special because it wasn’t just like the Red Sox in ’04. I remember I was on the phone with my dad when the Celtics won in ’08. I was in Omaha, Nebraska working the College World Series and I called him the last five minutes of the game. I couldn’t hear anything because we were in a bar but I asked him if he wanted to watch it together. My grandpa was a huge Celtics fan and would have huge Larry Bird talks with my dad. So I just wanted to be on the phone and I was like, “I love you Dad, this one’s for Grandpa” so 2008 was pretty special. But I’d love to see it again.
SLAM: What’s impressed you most about them in this series?
EA: What’s impressing me the most is that while you have the Big Three, Rondo has been sick. Big Baby has been there when they needed him. That night when Ray Allen went off was ridiculous. I think everybody said they were old and slow and couldn’t compete with the Lakers. And they have.
SLAM: Do you consider the Lakers the Celtics’ biggest rivals? Is there any other team that can come close to the Celtics in terms of a rivalry?
EA: I became an NBA fan because of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson so I’ll always say L.A. is their big rival.
SLAM: You grew up outside Boston so would that make you a Celtics fan?
John Cena: Yes, sir.
SLAM: What’s your favorite Celtics team?
JC: The teams of the ’80s.
SLAM: Why is that?
JC: To be quite honest, my age at the time. I was quite an impressionable teenager, 10, 11, 12 years old, thinking that local sports heroes walked on water. You don’t know enough, the fact there was no simulcast of every game. All we got to see the Celtics, so those guys became the best players in the world. The old Garden, the fact it was such a tension-filled building. That’s a mystique I don’t think will ever be replicated just because of where sports have evolved. As a kid, I truly thought those guys were unstoppable. I have the same memories of the ’86 Red Sox. Sports has become so readily available that you have everything at your fingertips. You can like Albert Pujols because you can see him play every day. Back then, it was your local team because that’s all you could see back then. I could see the Red Sox and the Braves and the Braves weren’t any good back then.
SLAM: Dale Murphy and that’s it.
JC: [Smiles] Exactly, Dale Murphy and Bob Horner. The [NBA] is still intense but there was something about those [Celtics] teams that made it extra special.
SLAM: Have you been able to watch the series?
JC: Oh yeah, I went to some games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The NBA is tough. They don’t win me around until the playoffs but when the playoffs come around, I’m all aboard.
SLAM: What’s it about the playoffs that makes it so appealing?
JC: I just think the [regular] season is too damn long. Too many teams make the playoffs. It’s almost like the season is irrelevant; you’re playing for a couple more home games than everybody else. The playoffs start, especially when teams start to go home, that’s when it gets really exciting.
SLAM: What’s impressed you most about the Celtics this series?
JC: Game 5 defense. The team is known for its tenacity on defense and that didn’t show up for the first four games. When I saw the pairing — either Magic or Celtics — I said L.A. is gonna get played off the floor because by then they were playing a zone team in Phoenix and they were going to be shown an Eastern Conference defense and be like, “What the hell just happened?” It was absent, it’s been absent. There were a boatload of turnovers in Game 5 but they made it back with an aggressive defense.
SLAM: Being a pro wrestler, is there ever a point in a basketball game where you consider it to be too physical?
JC: [Smiles] Basketball is kid’s gloves. Those guys, some of the haymakers they throw are at points laughable. I dig the aggression of guys. It was fun to see Rondo give Artest a shove [in Game 5]. There is no denying the focus and intensity of a guy like Kevin Garnett. But I don’t know how those guys would fare in the squared circle.
SLAM: The NBA does have McHale clotheslining Rambis [in Game 4 of the '84 Finals].
JC: [Laughs] Yeah, that was awesome. That was awesome.