It’s time for this season’s final installment of “Fan Friday,” the Red’s Army feature that introduces Celtics fans from all around the globe. If you’d like to nominate someone to be profiled next season – including yourself – please email us at Redsarmy.firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide the person’s contact info and some brief details about the fan’s background as a member of Celtics Nation.
This week we highlight Mike Dynon (at left above) of North Kingstown, R.I., an “O.G.” Celtics fan since 1965 and a Red’s Army writer for the past two years.
How he became a Celtics fan:
I was born and raised in Brooklyn (like Red Auerbach), and only good luck saved me from becoming a tormented Knicks fan. As a teenager, I was just getting into basketball when my best friend, Joe (at right in photo above), read an article about Celtic Frank Ramsey and the tricks that he used to draw fouls. Joe decided he liked Ramsey and became a Celtics fan. Since Joe and I did everything together, I became a Celtics fan too. We began going to the old Madison Square Garden whenever the Celtics played the Knicks. Admission to the balcony was $1 with our high school IDs. That happened to be during Red’s last season as coach. Joe is still my best friend, and we still go to games together.
His favorite player:
There are two: Bill Russell and Don Chaney. Their games resembled my schoolyard skills – couldn’t shoot but played tenacious defense. I’m fortunate to have seen Russell play in person many times. And although Chaney wasn’t a scorer, I luckily attended his top two games for points: 32 vs. the Warriors in Boston and 29 vs. the Knicks in N.Y. It killed me when Chaney jumped to the American Basketball Association (ABA) as a free agent. He eventually returned to the franchise, but his number (12) was never retired.
Three fun facts about Chaney:
- My Twitter avatar is a photo I took of Chaney during warmups; the next time at the Garden, I brought along the print and he autographed it.
- Chaney was the only Celtic to be a teammate of both Russell and Bird.
- I named my first dog “Chaney.”
My other top guys through the years are Cowens, Dennis Johnson, Bird, Pierce, and now IT.
Best Celtics moments and games:
There are so many. An actual low-key reason I attended Boston University was so I could go to Celtics games. Years later, my job was transferred from New York to Rhode Island, and I was happy because it brought me close to Boston.
Memorable games in-person:
- I attended the final home game of Russell and Sam Jones (1969 Finals), Havlicek’s final game (1978) and Bird’s first game (1979). Also saw Sam Jones score 51 in a playoff game at New York and Havlicek drop 54 in the playoffs at Boston Garden vs. Atlanta.
- 1981, playoff Game 5 vs. Philly. The Celts trailed in the series, 3-1, but as we chanted “See you Sunday,” the Cs came from behind in the last two minutes to win by two points. The chant turned out to be prophetic. The Celtics won Game 6 by two on the road, forcing the Sixers to return to Boston on Sunday for an epic Game 7. The Celts won by a single point and went on to beat Houston for the title.
- In 1984, my son was 5 when we went to his first game at Boston Garden. The Celts won a thriller on a last-second shot by Bird. My son wanted to stay afterward to meet his favorite player, Robert Parish. We waited near the locker room, but security was telling everyone to leave. “But I want to see Chief!” my son wailed. The guard took pity and let us stay, with the upshot being we got autographs on our game program from Parish as well as Bird and McHale – the entire Big Three. Still have it.
- Besides seeing the Celts play in Boston and New York, I’ve been to games in Brooklyn, New Jersey (the old Nets), Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis, Houston and Hartford (the Celtics’ former home-away-from-home for a few games a year). Hope to one day see them in Memphis, which is a fun city to visit, and San Antonio, where friends of mine live.
- In college, a friend invited me to play poker with him and his neighbors – JoJo White and Steve Kuberski. They lived in an apartment building in the suburbs, and the game took place at Kuberski’s dining room table. I lost $30 for the night and it was totally worth it.
- I once met Tommy and Mike at a Special Olympics fundraising event.
- In 1978, I was working in New York City. A coworker and I sneaked out of the office and went to the hotel ballroom where the NBA draft was taking place. Back then, the draft was not open to the public, but we talked our way in. (No one cared about security in those days.) In that era, the draft wasn’t televised, and fans would have to wait for their local TV sports report or morning paper to find out who was picked. So, standing there in the room, I was possibly the first Celtics fan in the world to hear the announcement that Boston had drafted Larry Bird.
- In 1996, I was on business for a couple of days at a Boston hotel – coincidentally, at the same time as former Celtics players and coaches were having a private reunion with the Phoenix Suns. They were marking the 20th anniversary of the triple-overtime victory by the Celtics in Game 5 of the ‘76 finals – widely considered the NBA’s greatest game. The banquet room doors were open during the presentations, so I quietly sat down in the back to watch highlight films and listen to the recollections of Tommy, Havlicek, JoJo, Cowens – all of them now Hall of Famers.
- My wife, Bonnie, and I were on a cruise ship in the Caribbean when I discovered that the cigar bar was showing that night’s Celtics game via satellite TV. It was Valentine’s Day 2007, yet Bonnie never hesitated to let me stay and watch (she’s so good to me). That turned out to be the night when the Cs broke an 18-game losing streak.
Why the Celtics are important to him:
The Celtics have been ingrained in my life for so long, I can’t imagine what it’s like not to be a fan. Since I began rooting for them, I figure I’ve watched well over 3,000 games and they’ve won nine championships. At one point during the Pierce years, I wasn’t sure I’d ever see another banner go up. But the turnaround and the 2008 championship, all coming so fast after the KG and Ray trades, made that year possibly my favorite title of all. It felt so good to see the payoff for Paul’s years of loyalty, because loyalty is essential to being a Celtics fan.
There’s a quote from Red that sums it all up for me: “The Boston Celtics are not a basketball team, they are a way of life.”