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 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 feature Red’s Army writer Kevin “KJ” Kourafas, age 25, from Randolph, Massachusetts. In the photo above, KJ is at the upper right, along with his mother, Patty Kourafas, sister Erin Kourafas, and brother Peter Kourafas, Jr. The picture was taken at the Garden after Peter had returned home from military deployment to Afghanistan.
How he became a Celtics fan:
It sounds cliché to say, but I’ve been a C’s fan since I can remember. I followed every sports team in town, but the Green were the first team to leave a real impression on me. A big reason for that is because of the Paul Pierce/Antoine Walker tandem that was formed via the draft in the late ’90s, but what solidified my lifelong fandom was the 2001-02 Celtics season.
Even looking back at the roster after all this time, my mind becomes flooded with memories and nostalgia galore. From Kenny Anderson’s hustle, to Walter McCarty’s clutch 3’s that brought about Tommy’s favorite tag-line, “I love Waltah!” Hell, even Vitaly Potapenko holds a special place in my heart as the first white guy I saw live in Celtics green. This team was special to me, and, despite ultimately coming up short of another banner, Pierce and Co. officially proved their worth to me during the playoffs that year.
I vividly remember sitting in the now-defunct Piccadilly Pub watching the greatest 4th-quarter comeback in NBA playoff history – down 21, Pierce scored 19 points in the final frame to steal one from the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Nets. It didn’t matter that they didn’t achieve a championship that year. The Celtics had shown me they had heart and would fight back in every situation, and I decided that’s the team I’m rolling with for life.
His favorite player:
The easy answer for any Celtics fan born in ’91 would be, of course, Paul Pierce. Putting The Truth aside for a moment, I’d really like to focus on the man, the myth, the legend: Eddie House (or “Eddie M**** F*****’ Money”, as I affectionately called him throughout his Celtics tenure). That first year in ’07-’08, Eddie came in and shot the lights out from beyond the arc, making nearly 40%. He eventually lost playing time due to human-alien Sam Cassell stepping into the backup PG position, but he made the most of every opportunity presented during the playoffs and was a HUGE catalyst in bringing Banner 17 to Boston.
My favorite Eddie House moment would have to be Game 4 of the 2008 Finals, when the Celts found themselves in the Staples Center down 24 points. No sweat to “Mr. Money,” though, as he came out and drilled a couple of 3s after the break, and the team became alive again – like they were just given an adrenaline shot. Celts eventually won the game, and of course the series, in large part to some timely shooting by House. #NeverForget #EddieMoney
Best Celtics moments and games:
My favorite Celtics memory occurred during that incredible run for Banner 17. I was lucky enough to have a gracious older brother with some money saved away and very little options for him to spend it on at the time. He had been overseas (either in Iraq or Afghanistan), and realized the special opportunity the Celtics had in front of them during the season. He also realized he could get me to scream like a little girl if he bought me playoff tickets (which he did, a total of five times). Among the five playoff games I attended was the first Finals game in the Garden since ’87, which is not lost on me. But my favorite moment had occurred during the Game 7 matchup against the Cavs. For the rest of my life, I’ll never forget the scoring clinic LeBron James and Paul Pierce put on. The feeling in the arena after that win was euphoric.
Why the Celtics are important to him:
The Celtics are important to me because of the respect for history from the entire organization, from ownership on down to the players. Now that’s not to say the Red Sox or Bruins don’t respect their history. It just seems, more often than not, that when a player puts on the Celtics uniform then they are indebted to the legendary players who came before them. Take a look at guys like Isaiah Thomas or Jae Crowder, two guys who didn’t willingly come to Boston, but who now represent for the city on a nightly basis. They know the type of effort this city requires, and they thrive off of it. Whether it’s the various retired jerseys (too many?) hanging from the rafters, or hearing guys like KG and PP wax poetic about what it means to play here, it just feels different with this team. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then go to a playoff game in the TD Garden. I assure you, you’ll feel the difference, too.