Near the bottom of the logo on the white playoff T-shirts that will dot the TD Garden tonight is the Twitter hash tag #iamaceltic. (That's "I am a Celtic" for you non-Tweeters to think a "hash tag" is the sticker price for a plate of corned beef and vegetables).
Yet for many of us, especially here in Connecticut, the land of eclectic sporting allegiances, it should read "I am a part-time Celtic." Me included. I believe I speak for many of us here when I say the passion for The Green isn't what it used to be.
Not that it wasn't a hoot walking around Crystal Mall on Wednesday being stopped a few times by people who actually wanted to talk Celtics-Heat. But it got me thinking: What's happened to us since Larry left?
Theories abound, of course. They'd have to. Sports watching doesn't necessarily require rational thought. It's just that 30 years ago, the idea that anyone would suggest many of us would watch the Celtics more casually than religiously would have been blasphemy.
Two of my happiest memories growing up: 1) Sunday at 1 with my father and Uncle Joe, who took turns swearing at the Giants; 2) in our basement rec room, just my dad and me, watching the Bird/DJ/McHale Celtics every night. Mike Gorman and Tom Heinsohn were the voices of our cellar as much as Rizzuto, Messer and White.
No different in college. All my BC guys would make their way to the now defunct Arbuckles, where they'd silence and music and crank the sounds of the game, to continue the Celts a pastime.
Larry's departure, no doubt, curbed the enthusiasm. And for many of us, it's never quite regained full potency. Some factors:
It didn't help they were lousy for a while in the M.L. Carr days.
It didn't help that the post-Larry/Magic NBA became a nightly tractor pull: Walk it up, throw it to the post, double the post, pass it out, miss a jump shot. Rinse. Repeat.
And for those of us in this corner of the world with DirecTV, the Celtics are verboten. As in blacked out. DirecTV, in its lack of infinite wisdom, has designated the Nets as our "home" team. In my 43 years on the mortal soil, I have never known one Nets fan.
Yet some scholar at DirecTV said, "Let's make the Nets their home team!"
And some other returning Jeopardy champion said, "Excellent idea!"
But I digress.
The Celts, when we can watch them, have been pretty darn good since Doc Rivers arrived. So what's our excuse, really?
Full disclosure: I'm not exactly a regular at the TD Garden. All I know is what my spies tell me. Here is what they tell me:
Sun coach Mike Thibault knows Rivers and coached Ray Allen. I trust Coach T when he says they are exactly the good guys you think they are. Thibault knows Rivers from his old NBA days. He was an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks when Allen was there. Allen showed up at a Sun game last year and said hello (during the game) to Eric Thibault, Mike's son, and part of the Sun coaching staff.
I said to Eric, "you KNOW Ray Allen?"
He shot me a look as if to say, "well duh."
Sorry, but that's tremendous. Especially in an era of self-entitlement and self-importance, Allen not only remembered Eric's name, but said treated him like an old pal.
Former Sun (and UConn) forward Tamika (Williams) Raymond played for the Minnesota Lynx when Kevin Garnett played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Raymond gushed about Garnett, the way he treated the Lynx players and everyone else. KG was all-inclusive and always the first one to plunk down the credit card to pay the bill at the end if the night.
Even Sun stat crew members Sherri Geller and Scott Shore, who do the same job for the Celtics, can't say enough good things.
So I'm relatively confident in saying it's a group of guys worthy of our admiration. Put it this way: I doubt they're eating chicken and playing video games during the third quarter.
Oh, well. Maybe now's not the best day to question our passions for the green. Today is the day to appreciate how they're not quite ready for the rocking chair. And to revel in how much joy they've provided. Even if we're only part time.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.