It’s time for Red’s Army “Fan Friday,” the weekly feature that introduces you to Celtics fans from all around the globe. If you’d like to nominate someone to be featured – including yourself – please email us at [email protected]. Provide the person’s contact info and some brief details about the fan’s background as a member of Celtics Nation.
This week we feature one of the most dedicated fans of the many Celtics followers from Down Under. He’s Ben Vallis, age 29, of Sydney, Australia. Ben has traveled to America three times to see the Celtics in person! Follow him on Twitter at @FunBen123.
How he became a Celtics fan:
My first basketball card was a Larry Bird card. I still have it somewhere. When I was 7, we moved to Bangkok, Thailand, for a few years. My parents are both teachers and both got jobs at the International School. Most of the kids I went to school with there were American, and they got me into basketball and NBA trading cards. Maybe it was the cool, crisp jerseys, or just some kind of mystical appeal about the league I couldn’t quantify, but I was totally hooked!
I could ramble about this basketball discovery for ages, but the short version is, the first card I remember getting was this Larry Bird card, and I remember thinking, “this guy looks just like my Dad!” Just this old, no-frills guy hooping with all these athletic dudes. I couldn’t believe it when I saw his stats, that he was a dominant player. It would still be years until I saw my first full NBA game on TV, but that was when I decided the Celtics were my team.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Boston to see the Celtics play in 2011, 2012-13, and 2014-15, and I’ll be heading back with my wife, Kristen, for the playoffs in April on our honeymoon.
A while back I submitted a Reddit post that sums up my three trips from Sydney to Boston.
His favorite player:
Paul Pierce (yeah, I know everyone says this!). I am wearing a Paul Pierce jersey as I type this. Once I had fast-enough Internet to actually start watching games, Paul Pierce was leading the Celtics. He just has this “old man at the Y” kind of game – you know what I’m talking about. The way he always gets to his spot and gets his shot off without the speed and athleticism we see from other all-star players, it’s amazing and a pleasure to watch. I was lucky enough to see him play in a Celtics uniform a few times.
Best Celtics moments and games:
There are so many fantastic Celtics moments to choose from, but my absolute favourite was on December 19, 2012: Watching The Truth drop 40 on the Cavs in the Garden. This is not just my favourite Celtic moment, but one my fondest memories in life. We had some great seats near the baseline too and got to see some vintage Pierce buckets up close. I was there with my girlfriend at the time, who is now my beautiful wife.
Here’s a couple clips from the game.
Why the Celtics are important to him:
You know when you follow a team for so long that they start to feel a bit like your family? I think that is what I have with the Celtics, and that’s why they are so important to me. I have followed them for so long and really come to admire the concept of “Celtic Basketball,” and we’ve been really lucky to have quite a few players over the years who embody that.
The Celtics are a great franchise, top to bottom, which just makes it easier and more fun to root for them.
Also, all of these things in no particular order: Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn, KG, “Playoff Rondo,” 17 titles, Banner 18, “The Gahden,” Red Auerbach, The Truth, parquet floor, GINO, Scal, Ed Lacerte, Brad Stevens. These are all beautiful things that’ll warm the heart of any Celts fan.