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Celtics: How the Celtics helped me enjoy Berlin...

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Published Time: 28.05.2024 - 01:04:25 Modified Time: 28.05.2024 - 01:04:25

“I know a lot of English and European that stay up late to watch the games live. I can’t do that,” Adam told me as I was putting together this article. “For one, I’m a dad. I have parent duties in the morning. Secondly, that’s never been how I experience games.” Celtics


“I know a lot of English and European that stay up late to watch the games live. I can’t do that,” Adam told me as I was putting together this article. “For one, I’m a dad. I have parent duties in the morning. Secondly, that’s never been how I experience games.”

For Adam and many other European basketball enjoyers, it all rests on the “hide scores” button on NBA League Pass, enabling one to watch complete replays of all games without any spoilers so long as one manages their notifications and dodges text messages from family and friends. I will often wake up with over a hundred unread texts and muted notifications from my 76 different sports apps, but I am forced to resist in favor of watching the game spoiler-free…

…is what I would do if I wasn’t a complete lunatic who routinely stays up until 5 a.m. to watch the Celtics playoff games live. I see no contradiction with transposing my life back by five hours and sleeping from 6 a.m. to noon like some sort of medical professional who works crazy hours. I have my own room, a very flexible class schedule, and crazy good blackout curtains.

Maybe I’m too young, or maybe I’m just too crazy, but I usually can’t stand waiting until the next morning to know if the team that I have baked a truly absurd amount of my emotional wellbeing into will deliver on the promise they made two years ago: get back to the Finals and close the deal.

In any case, European Oliver is very much a product of American Oliver. Adam, a lifetime British time zone dweller, also mentioned how watching games live can be harder for him than watching on replay, since it’s such a foreign concept to him — pun very much intended.

“I find myself getting frustrated during timeouts or free throws when I can’t just skip forward and get back to the action,” Adam said. “I hate how if I see something I like and want to try and break down, I’m falling behind everyone else watching live. Honestly, I struggle when watching in real-time.”

In any case, my psycho-sleep-schedule routine worked well until this past week, when myself and the other Americans in my exchange program traveled to Berlin for a week-long vacation. I was sharing a room with two other guys, had the worst curtains ever, and we were also, you know…in Berlin—a place with more after-dark activities than anywhere else on earth.

We also had a pretty full schedule, so my graveyard-shift-medical-professional routine wasn’t going to work with 8:30 a.m. alarms and trains to catch. And so, I didn’t watch a single second of Games 1, 2 and 3 live, activating my spoiler-free replay bag while I waited for my friends to wake the hell up.

I had to trust the Celtics to get it done without me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I wasn’t involved in the game. I was merely a historian watching something that had already happened, forced to experience all the emotions of the moment without talking to my friends or family. It feels just a little insane.

For career-Europeans, replay-watching is totally normal, but for me, it’s a form of psychological warfare. Whenever the Pacers made a run, I was tempted to skip ahead in the recording since I just didn’t want to deal with this pain and suffering. And in the back of my mind, I knew that I could just check who won at any point, and all my fears and anxieties would be released in one way or another.

But each time I was tempted by that impulse, I was reminded why I love basketball. It’s not knowing who wins. It’s not even winning or losing games, scoring enough points to silence the haters, or even hoisting the trophy at the end of it all.

It’s that split second when the ball is in the air and not one person alive knows if it’s going to go in. Even the 10-minute condensed highlight reel the NBA produces doesn’t work, because until the last few minutes, they only show made shots, blocks, or steals. Once Andrew Nembhard gets the shot off, I know it’s going in.

But I live for that half-second when it could go either way. Maybe it’s why I love these Celtics, since they hunt for threes so much and thus present me with a lot of high-octane split-seconds. In those moments, it can feel like the fate of the universe rests on a knife’s edge and no one can do a thing it.

There’s just nothing else in the world that will have me frantically fist pumping in total silence in a hotel room in Berlin when Jaylen Brown hit that shot over Pascal Siakam. Nor is there anything that could make me quietly celebrate at 6 a.m. quite like when Jayson Tatum delivered that behind the back pass to Al Horford and Jrue Holiday stole the ball to all but seal it.

And then there’s my prediction that the Celtics would sweep the Pacers, a pretty asinine take at the time that is roughly 12 hours away from making me look like a total genius. I had to trust the Celtics to handle that too, and they’ve done wonderfully.

They’ll have me back for Game 4, but I couldn’t be prouder of this team for letting me get some sleep in the past week and enjoy Berlin without having to worry if I’d have to deal with Celtics obituaries. In the immortal words of, well, everyone, the job is not finished. But we can just call this the official thank you note for a truly awesome week.

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